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The history of Jerusalem is the history of the world, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the American Century. Now the author of the acclaimed Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar presents a grippingly original epic history of Jerusalem through the lives of those who created, destroyed, conquered, wrote about—and believed in—the Holy City.
Here are all the key players in a vast, thrilling, and intimate panorama that brings every epoch and titan blazingly to life, from King David to Jesus and Muhammad; from Maccabees and Herods to Churchill and Barack Obama; from Cleopatra, the Caliphs, and Saladin to Mark Twain and Rasputin; from Dayan, Arafat, and King Hussein to the author’s ancestor, Sir Moses Montefiore, who founded the new city of Jerusalem 150 years ago.
Drawing on new archival materials, the latest scholarship, his own family papers, and a lifetime’s study, Montefiore illuminates the essence of holiness, power, empire, and the only city that exists twice—in heaven and on earth.
“A fittingly vast and dazzling portrait of Jerusalem, utterly compelling from start to finish.” —The Sunday Times (U.K.)
“This is an essential book for those who wish to understand a city that remains a nexus of world affairs. . . . Although his Jewish family has strong links to the city, Montefiore scrupulously sustains balance and objectivity. . . . Beautifully written, absorbing.” —ay Freeman, Booklist (starred)
“A panoramic narrative of Jerusalem, organized chronologically and delivered with magisterial flair. Spanning eras from King David to modern Israel with rich anecdotes and vivid detail, this exceptional volume portrays the personalities and worldviews of the dynasties and families that shaped the city throughout its 3,000-year history.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“An essential text, bathed in blood, lit with faint hope. . . . The author sees Jerusalem not just as the setting for some of history’s most savage violence but a microcosm of our world. . . . The story is horribly complex, and Montefiore struggles mightily to make everything clear as well as compelling.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Jerusalem has been the subject [of] surprisingly few single-authored books aimed at retracing her uniquely varied, long and rich history. Simon Sebag Montefiore, to whom we already owe a debt for his magisterial biography of Stalin, has daringly attempted just that. . . . He has both read voraciously, and made excellent use of family archive.s . . . This reviewer, resident in the Jewish part of Jerusalem, was impressed by Sebag Montefiore’s ability to find the right tone, and to retain a fair approach to Jerusalem’s history. . . . A lively book.” —Guy G. Stroumsa, Times Literary Supplement (UK)
“Four thousand years of history absolutely romped through–a masterwork.” —David Sexton, Evening Standard (UK)
“Montefiore writes with elegance and authority. . . . His footnotes throughout the book lead the reader to up-to-date archaeological evidence or to an enjoyable anecdote, [emphasizing] the unpredictable, many-layered quality of the city.” —Diarmaid MacCulloch, London Review of Books
“Sebag Montefiore’s book [made] me realize how little I knew, let alone understood, about Jerusalem’s pivotal role in shaping the world’s dominant civilisations. . . . At the same time, the book leaves me wanting more than ever to visit Jerusalem. . . . Jerusalem: The Biography is compelling and scholarly work by an author whose own Jewish antecedents have not stopped him from delivering an even-handed account of the city’s four thousand year history. Just as Peter Ackroyd’s London: A Biography illuminated my capital city, so Sebag Montefiore’s book has added immensely to my patchwork understanding of the Middle East.” —Steve Royston, MiddleEastPosts.com
“Magnificent. . . . The city’s first ‘biography’–a panoptic narrative of its rulers and citizens, heroes and villains, harlots and saint.s . . . 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. . . . For a book that spans 3,000 years, it does a remarkably inclusive job.” —Jonathan Rosen, New York Times Book Review
“Sweeping and absorbing. . . . Montefiore is a master of colorful and telling details and anecdotes. . . . His account is admirably dispassionate and balanced.” —Jackson Diehl, Washington Post Book World
“In his stunningly comprehensive history, Simon Sebag Montefiore covers 3,000-plus years of the Earth’s most fiercely contested piece of geography. . . . Not only has Montefiore delivered a piece of superb scholarship, he has done so in an extremely easy-to-read style. The author tells the history of the complex relationships that existed between long-dead peoples in a manner that makes them seem human and understandable. . . . Meticulously researched.” —Imre Lake, Newark Star-Ledger
“Few historians have demonstrated the vision, mastery, and boldness necessary to publish on a subject so vast and in such detail as Montefiore. . . . A marvelous panorama.” —Zachary T. Irwin, Library Journal
“So many books about Jerusalem have been written from the perspective of Judaism or Christianity or Islam and there’s plenty to go around there. But [Montefiore] really tries to tell you what the life of the city has been like . . . why it means so much to everyone and why it’s so spectacular. You fall in love with the city and it breaks your heart that people can’t make peace over it, because it’s a treasure. It’s a wonderful book.” —President Bill Clinton, #1 holiday book pick on the Today Show
“Densely textured. . . . Montefiore embraces Jerusalem’s paradoxes in his chronological account, which seeks to avoid hindsight and disclaims a political agenda. He succeeds admirably in remaining evenhanded, a particularly notable achievement.” —Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times
“A memorable and distinguished history of a city where ‘the truth is much less important than the myth’ . . . Splendidly evoked.” —Judith Chettle, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Magnificent. . . . A spectacular book for general readers. . . . This is a book about the ages, for the ages.” —Gaylord Dold, Wichita Eagle