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Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0472113132
ISBN-10: 0472113135
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cline, an associate professor of ancient history and archeology at George Washington University, begins his history of Jerusalem with mythical, biblical and archeological clues to its past, and the Roman histories of Josephus. Cline's narrative thread is the battles over control of a dusty village that took on increasing emotional content as it became a contested religious site. Cline claims "assimilation, annihilation and acculturation" through 10 empires and occupancies have left no one in the area today with "a legitimate pedigree definitively extending back to any of the original inhabitants." Of the alleged 118 conflicts over Jerusalem, few lacked a religious basis. Until 1917, Cline shows, Westerners controlled Jerusalem for less than a century. Beyond the Solomonic years, Jews have controlled the old city only since 1967. Perhaps no fragment of global real estate has been so volatile over so long a history. Despite sanguinary, even horrific detail from past memoirs and narratives, Cline's retelling is flat and repetitious, and the numerous references to Saddam Hussein, physically absent from this history, overreach in attempting immediate relevance. While a useful, well-annotated, textbookish guide to Jerusalem's violent past and present, it will not replace Karen Armstrong's stylish Jerusalem. One City, Three Faiths (1996). 10 color photos not seen by PW, 24 maps.
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"A beautifully lucid presentation of four thousand years of history in a single volume. Cline writes primarily as an archaeologist-avoiding polemic and offering evidence for any religious claims-yet he has also incorporated much journalistic material into this study. Jerusalem Besieged will enlighten anyone interested in the history of military conflict in and around Jerusalem."
-Col. Rose Mary Sheldon, Virginia Military Institute

"This groundbreaking study offers a fascinating synthesis of Jerusalem's military history from its first occupation into the modern era. Cline amply deploys primary source material to investigate assaults on Jerusalem of every sort, starting at the dawn of recorded history. Jerusalem Besieged is invaluable for framing the contemporary situation in the Middle East in the context of a very long and pertinent history."
-Baruch Halpern, Pennsylvania State University

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; 1st edition (September 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472113135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472113132
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,264,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

DR. ERIC H. CLINE is Professor of Classics and Anthropology, Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute, and former Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The George Washington University, in Washington DC. A National Geographic Explorer, Fulbright scholar, and NEH Public Scholar with degrees from Dartmouth, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, he is an active field archaeologist with 30 seasons of excavation and survey experience in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Crete, and the United States, including ten seasons at the site of Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) in Israel and eight seasons at Tel Kabri, also in Israel, where he is currently Co-Director. Winner of the 2014 "Best Popular Book" award from the American Schools of Oriental Research for his recent book "1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed," a three-time winner of the Biblical Archaeology Society's "Best Popular Book on Archaeology" Award (2001, 2009, and 2011), and a popular lecturer who has appeared frequently on television documentaries, he has also won national and local awards for both his research and his teaching. He is the author or editor of 16 books, almost 100 articles, and three recorded 14-lecture courses. His previous books written specifically for the general public include "The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age" (2000), "Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel" (2004), "From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible" (2007), "Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction" (2009), "The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction" (2013), and, most recently, "1177 BC: The Year Civilzation Collapsed" (2014). He has also co-authored a children's book on Troy, entitled "Digging for Troy" (2011). For a video of his "Last Lecture" talk, go to http://vimeo.com/7091059.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Eric Cline has written a vast range of books and articles for both specialized publications and general audiences. His latest book, "Jerusalem Besieged", is written in the same vein as his previous book "Battles of Armageddon" and yet in many ways this new book must have been difficult to write. While Megiddo is in ruins, Jerusalem is still the religious center of three major world faiths and is held sacred by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. It is almost impossible to write a book on Jerusalem without offending someone, but Cline has managed to write one of the most tactful books possible. Nowhere does he slide into polemic, nor has he made any religious claims in lieu of evidence. He has tried his best to write an even-handed account of Jerusalem's military past. He has spent a great deal of time in that city and his love of the subject comes through loud and clear. He writes as an archaeologist not as a political commentator, and yet there is much journalistic material he has read and incorporated into the text. Cline writes in beautifully lucid prose. General readers will find the material accessible and yet Cline's research is available in the footnotes and the extensive bibliography. Readers are given a framework within which to think about the repercussions of several millenia of strife in Jerusalem. Cline documents 118 separate conflicts during which Jerusalem has been destroyed completely twice, besieged 23 times and attacked an additional 52 times. It has been captured and re-captured 44 times and this does not even include the 20 revolts and innumerable riots. Cline manages to cover them in less than 500 pages while covering each incident, and giving judicious opinions in places where controversy occurs. This is a must purchase for military historians and general readers alike.
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Format: Paperback
Overall I greatly enjoyed the book. It was a good read, and I liked the format and how he tied it in to current affairs and political events in each chapter. It was informative and ballanced, and in most points he did a good job of being objective and neutral about issues.

However in the last couple of chapters I feel that he did fall down a bit. The most glaring example for me was in his discussion of the Six Day War. If you read his account with no other knowledge of events you would think that Israel pulled off a almost completely unprovoked pre-emptive strike. There was a very fleeting minor mention of Egypt's military build up, though unless memory fails he did not mention how focused that build up on the border was. However he UTTERLY fails to mention that Egypt had blockaded and shut down Israel's ports, which ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL LAW is an act of war. That is a huge oversight in understanding the events and causes of the Six Day War.

But, a few skewed points aside, again I enjoyed the book a great deal. As a conservative christian theologian I will warn other Christians if you are not comfortable reading other views and interacting with secular historical thought this may not be the book for you. It is not written from a Judeo-Christian presupposition. That is not a knock on the book, as I enjoy historical books, and enjoy reading altering viewpoints and opinions.

Again this book receives the highest marks and for people who want a greater understanding of what is going on in the Middle East today, and the many factors throughout history that colour current events, this is one of the better "introductory" books I have read. You could obviously write whole books or series on each one of these individual events or periods described, but this book does an excellent job as a survey of historical events that have given us the Jerusalem of today.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book that really needed to be written.

When I lived briefly in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, I was told that in ancient times, Tabuk had been known as "the most evil place in the world." Frankly at the time, I doubted that any geographical locality could have a karma of its own. After reading Eric H. Cline's book, Jerusalem Besieged, I think I'm going to have to reconsider the issue.

What I found most intriguing about the author's discussion was his concept of the origin of the site's importance. Most archaeologists tend to point to the advantage of a location as the inspiration for settlement and development in the area. Often things like access to a sheltered harbor, a fishing resource, mineral wealth such as flint, obsidian, ceramic clay, iron, gold or silver, or water availability and so on are reasons that a city grows and flourishes through time. As one realtor has said, "there are three things to remember in selecting real estate: location, location, location."

Jerusalem however seems to defy that premise. According to the author, it is neither exceptional for its geologic nor for its geographic gifts. The agricultural value of the surrounding land is marginal, water supply is iffy, there are no large stands of timber to be harvested and few if any valuable mineral riches to be mined. Geographically it seems to have been an isolated site, in the back of beyond. It lies well inland of the coast and is not the hub of intersecting trade routes. In fact, although it is mentioned in the Egyptian Armarna texts, it seems to have held little political value until David took it forcibly from the Jebusites, its previous owners, and made it the center of his new monarchy.
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