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Jerusalem: The Biography | [Simon Sebag Montefiore]

Jerusalem: The Biography

Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice - in heaven and on earth.
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Publisher's Summary

Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence.

How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the “center of the world” and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs and revelations of the men and women - kings, empresses, prophets, poets, saints, conquerors and whores - who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient world of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Lincoln, Rasputin, Lawrence of Arabia and Moshe Dayan.

Drawing on new archives, current scholarship, his own family papers and a lifetime’s study, Montefiore illuminates the essence of sanctity and mysticism, identity and empire in a unique chronicle of the city that many believe will be the setting for the Apocalypse. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice - in heaven and on earth.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“Magnificent . . . The city’s first ‘biography’—a panoptic narrative of its rulers and citizens, heroes and villains, harlots and saints . . . Montefiore barely misses a trick or a character in taking us through the city’s story with compelling, breathless tension.” (Norman Lebrecht, Wall Street Journal)

“Impossible to put down . . . A vastly enjoyable chronicle [with] many fascinating asides . . . Montefiore has a fine eye for the telling detail, and also a powerful feel for a good story.” (Jonathan Rosen, New York Times Book Review)

“Magisterial . . . As a writer, Montefiore has an elegant turn of phrase and an unerring ear for the anecdote that will cut to the heart of a story . . . It is this kind of detail that makes Jerusalem a particular joy to read.” (The Economist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (197 )
5 star
 (73)
4 star
 (63)
3 star
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3.9 (171 )
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Story
3.9 (169 )
5 star
 (66)
4 star
 (52)
3 star
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2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (10)
Performance
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  •  
    Nir Weinberger 03-19-15
    ratings
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    "great book"

    amazing epic biography about the mystic city, covers the history of 3 religions, with a lot of piquanterie, and a lot of information, feeding the brain with general knowledge.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 03-17-15
    James 03-17-15
    ratings
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    6
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    "Top Five Instantly!"

    absolutely loved this book. The history of the world wrapped in the history of its most important city. I will read this one again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. J. Collene 03-07-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    64
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Strained Secular History"

    The litany of characters seemed to promote a rational flow of history while attempting to downplay the Judeo-Christian heritage that underpins the spiritual & timeless reality that keeps Jerusalem in the middle of everything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ConvexViews 01-06-15
    ConvexViews 01-06-15
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Supplementary documents"

    It was very nice book full of facts and details. Hearing the audible gave a broad picture. I will certainly re-read the book. It would have been very beneficial if supplementary document contained more facts categorized by chapters

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lynn lubbock, tx, United States 08-06-14
    lynn lubbock, tx, United States 08-06-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Decent, but not worth the time"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The reader could have been more engaging and the story deeper. As it is the reader is quick and clip in his pronunciations and the story highlights only the perverted events of history.


    What could Simon Sebag Montefiore have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Deeper study of the subject and explanations -- including decent historical characters -- a more balanced view of Jerusalem would have been appreciated.


    Would you be willing to try another one of John Lee’s performances?

    Absolutely not.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Richmond, British Columbia, Canada 03-16-14
    Anne Richmond, British Columbia, Canada 03-16-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid general reader with a fondness for British and Irish Writers and world history.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    32
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    "History at it's best"

    Seekers of genuine historical fact (interspersed with a bit of knowledgeable opinion) will find this an amazingly valuable contribution. It is far too much to digest in a first listening but very worthwhile to listen in smaller doses. The points of view of all major players are well presented throughout. This reader will find it invaluable in sorting out all the current opinions which are expressed daily by the press or by those actually involved in making policies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arda 12-19-13
    Arda 12-19-13

    Born to be a writer. Raised to forget about it. Follow me on twitter @ArdaWhateverian

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Well-written and much fun"
    Any additional comments?

    "In Jerusalem, don't ask me the history of facts.Take away the fiction and there's nothing left." (Nazmi Al-Jubeh)

    This was an enjoyable listen on audible while roaming around the streets of Jerusalem. If there is one strong sentiment that resonated about this book, it would be Jerusalem's magic/madness that has repeatedly haunted its lovers and led them to the dying need to have to possess the demented city, claim it as their own and fight anyone who disagrees. A mad city, looks like it has always been this way.

    Montefiore takes us on a wild journey and captures details that make one look at history through different eyes. I found myself disagreeing with some of the terminology and direction he takes, but this was nevertheless an enjoyable and very educational book that adds drama and suspense to history, with touches of gossip here and there that give away little-known-facts about facts. Well-written and much fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauri Donahue 10-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    3
    3
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    "All the gory details"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Jerusalem to be better than the print version?

    It was an excellent performance, but it's easier to find a particular passage in a print edition.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Jerusalem?

    The capture of the Kotel in the 1967 war was thrilling.


    Any additional comments?

    This was terrific fun, as well as being packed full of fascinating details and characters. I especially appreciated the insightful and contrasting quotes at the beginnings of the chapters and the trivia in the footnotes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Hartmann New York, NY 07-20-13
    C. Hartmann New York, NY 07-20-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    322
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    358
    39
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    "Superb book....Superb narrator"

    The book is, quite simply, a revelation. The performance (by the same person who did epics by Hamilton and Reynolds) is breathtaking. it is far better on Audible than when read. It is like going through all three parts of Stoppard's "Coast of Utopia" in one day. It is a wonder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benjamin 03-25-13
    Benjamin 03-25-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Biblical history comes alive"
    Would you listen to Jerusalem again? Why?

    I would gladly listen again because of the richness of the narrative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It flows so compellingly. It is like listening to a historical novel.


    What does John Lee bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He brings a richness that makes the story come alive.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. 25 hours is a long time for one sitting, but it is well worth setting aside like the intermissions in long movies of years ago.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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