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Jerusalem: The Biography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 25 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (Oct. 25 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307266516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307266514
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Vlad Thelad TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 21 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was already a fan of Simon Sebag Montefiore, as I consider his biographies of Potemkin and Stalin outstanding works of scholarship and great writing. Consequently, it would have been an understatement to say that my expectations regarding "Jerusalem: The Biography" were anything but huge. Yet, the book overwhelmingly surpassed them.
This is an "opus magna."
No one, secular or religious, can be indifferent to Jerusalem, the city at the epicentre of humankind and its relationship with God. This is what makes Montefiore's such a remarkable feat: he manages to navigate Jerusalem's history with objectivity, extraordinary lucidity and compelling writing, without losing an ounce of passion for his subject. This is History at its best, to be read, discussed, treasured, and imbibed by all.
Bravo, bravissimo!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Mareschal TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 30 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed by Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem, the biography. This book tells the history of a 3,000 years old city that grew in the desert and became the center of worship of three major religions, and the locus of unending wars and conflicts. It also tells the history of city at the confluence of western and eastern civilizations. The story of Jerusalem is also 3,000 years of history of the world.
There is no doubt that Simon Sebag Montefiore is a good writer and a fine historian, but telling the history of Jerusalem is an enormous task. The history of Jerusalem is related to the birth and decline of civilizations and empires. It is incomprehensible without understanding the development of three religions. Unfortunately, the book does not provide sufficient historical background and the broad perspective that one needs to understand the story. The book is full of anecdotes, interesting anecdotes, but it reads like a long list of murders and massacres, with very little space for compassion and mercy. It is full of sound and fury and the story makes little sense. After reading this book, one still wonders how and why the three religions that claim Jerusalem as a holy city brought so much violence and destruction to the region.
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By Patrick Case on July 5 2012
Format: Hardcover
One of the criticisms of this book is that it is written on too narrow a gauge, that it tends to ignore the motivation and behaviour of masses of people. Most of us, understand that history is not just about the actions of kings and queens. However, a story told from the point of view of great people has its place. No one book can address, in all of its dimensions, the history of Jerusalem and its peoples and I do not think that book is touted as work of definitive proportions. Having said all of that, the book yields up a large amount of information and gives readers a sense of the unbroken chain of hostility that has characterized the history of Jerusalem. We are still, many of us, captive to the notion that Jerusalem belongs to one side or another in the centuries old fratricidal war between adherents to the Abrahamic traditions. This book represents a challenge to those whose views about the Middle East start and stop in the most recent sixty-year time frame. In my view, the indivisibility of Jerusalem seems clear and the city stands as a taunting challenge to create one state within which Jews and Arabs can live in peace.
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Format: Hardcover
Simon Sebag Montefiore writes the history of Jerusalem from its beginnings as a fortified village through successive conquests or occupations: Canaanite, Israelite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, Ummayad, Abassid, Fatimid, Seljuk, Crusader, Saracen, Tartar, Mamluk, Ottoman, British, Jordanian and finally Israeli. As different religious groups occupied Jerusalem, earlier (and rival) places of worship were destroyed or taken apart and rebuilt into new places of worship. From an archaeological perspective, this makes Jerusalem a very complicated site. And what happened to the people through these successive conquests or occupations? Some populations were slaughtered, others were sold into slavery, and each dispossessed population was replaced by new waves of immigration.

`The story of Jerusalem is the story of the world.'

Jerusalem's story involves accounts of massacre, rape and war; of persecution, fanaticism and feuds; of corruption, betrayal and hypocrisy; and of spirituality. Trying to make sense of it all is difficult; although reading a chronological account of events makes it easier to understand the significance and ongoing importance of this city to the three monotheistic religions that hold it sacred.

`It is only by chronological narrative that one avoids the temptation to see the past through the obsessions of the present.'

There's a lot of history covered in this book: Jerusalem was exclusively Jewish for 1,000 years, Christian for about 400 years and Islamic for 1,300 years: `not one of the three faiths ever gained Jerusalem without the sword, the mangonel or the howitzer.
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