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Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345391683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345391681
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jerusalem is the most famous city on the planet, a place vibrantly imagined even by people who have never been there. Karen Armstrong, author of the best-selling A History of God, shows why it might also be the most interesting, a sacred ground for rival Christians, Jews and Muslims. Much of her book is devoted to 5,000 years of history, but all of it addresses a longstanding and contemporary fascination unmatched by any other urban center. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

British religious scholar Armstrong (A History of God) has written a provocative, splendid historical portrait of Jerusalem that will reward those seeking to fathom a strife-torn city. Her overarching theme, that Jerusalem has been central to the experience and "sacred geography" of Jews, Muslims and Christians and thus has led to deadly struggles for dominance, is a familiar one, yet she brings to her sweeping, profusely illustrated narrative a grasp of sociopolitical conditions seldom found in other books. Armstrong spares none of the three monotheisms in her critique of intolerant policies as she ponders the supreme irony that the Holy City, revered by the faithful as symbol and site of harmony and integration, has been a contentious place where the faiths have fought constantly, not only with one another but within themselves, in bitter factions. Her condemnation of Israel's 1967 annexation of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War ("It was impossible for Israelis to see the matter objectively, since at the [Western Wall] they had encountered the Jewish soul"), however, pushes too far her theme of sacred geography as the physical embodiment of motivating myths and legends.-- they had encountered the Jewish soul"), however, pushes too far her theme of sacred geography as the physical embodiment of motivating myths and legends.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs-including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation-and two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. She has addressed members of the U.S. Congress on three occasions; lectured to policy makers at the U.S. State Department; participated in the World Economic Forum in New York, Jordan, and Davos; addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and New York; is increasingly invited to speak in Muslim countries; and is now an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. In February 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and is currently working with TED on a major international project to launch and propagate a Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public and crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, to be signed in the fall of 2009 by a thousand religious and secular leaders. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

We are going to read this in book club, so I decided to get ahead of the rest and read it first.
L. Bruce
No, these folks are just interlopers who had to invent arbitrary myths to pretend that they cared at all about the place, much less had a right to be there.
Jill Malter
This book provides a very balanced view of the factors leading to the present day situation in Jerusalem.
J. Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Giant Panda on September 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
In books concerning hot conflicts like the Middle East, it is commonplace to cover only part of the story or to concentrate on one set of events more so than others. This is understandable of course since most people with adequate interest in a topic typically have made up their minds and favor one of the conflicting sides. Not so with this book. I read this book with a critical eye, begging to find any evidence that the author is partial to anyone anyone, but in all of the 430 pages I could not find a single biased reference nor any significant omissions. By writing this wonderful comprehensive and well-researched history of Jerusalem, Karen Armstrong has done all of us concerned about the city a great favor. Throughout the 5000-year history of the city, this book describes in an unbiased tone the enormously interesting history of this hotly contested city. Many remarkable and little-known facts are can be found here. For example, I was surprised to learn that the history of Jerusalem extended for 2000 years before King David, its purported "founder". The book covers all the different eras of the city: the Canaanite, Egyptian, Israelite, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Muslim, and Crusader eras. The last two chapters focus on the 20th century history of the city.
Though the author was a former catholic nun, she displays no bias whatsoever towards Christianity. The book displays the history of the city equally from the points of view of all three religious groups that care about it: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus the book dwells in detail about the extreme agony of the Jews for their loss of the city and their being forbidden to enter it during Byzantine Roman rule.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on May 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I walked into this book having read several of Karen Armstrong's books, so I knew of her leanings that other reviewers have pointed out. Of course, if you are going to write about three major faiths, it is natural to expect some bias towards one of them. That aside, I found her history to be very interesting and helped put this city into a perspective I had not had before. She shows how an off the beaten path city became one of the most important places for three of the world's religions, and a contentious site of conflict. What Armstrong does well is to show the shifting lines that have occurred between areas of the city as various religious powers came to control. But more importantly she brings the various pieces of Jerusalem and puts them in a coherent organized narrative. Many of the places mentioned in the bible are put into perspective with each other, and their historical changes are traced over time. Even more useful is that the author generously includes maps throughout the book to show the changes and shifting lines of groups throughout time. As someone who knew little about the geography of Jerusalem, I found this to help keep all the players and movements straight. The book lags at points but overall moves very well through the centuries. This is an excellent overview history of this holy city and would be a very good introduction to the reader wishing to know more. It should not be the only book you read on the region, but rather use it as one view of the history which has brought us to the modern religious conflicts of the area.
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30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As one who has studied and read much on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I greatly appreciated Armstrong's even-handedness in this book. It made it a pleasure to read. She has a way of making history so much fun.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Wilson on November 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book provides a very balanced view of the factors leading to the present day situation in Jerusalem. Although somewhat heavy on the religious influences, not inappropriately so, since this is what made Jerusalem what it is today. I would have liked to have learned more about the situation with the Armenians in that quarter of the city throughout the turmoil of the last few hundred years. The many maps of the changing city were outstanding. Excellent!
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1996
Format: Hardcover
If you're like me, you'll buy Karen Armstrong's Jerusalem just
after purchasing your plane ticket to the historic city. And
you'll try to read it before you leave. My advice: wait
until you're on the plane to begin reading--no guilt for not
getting to it before departing. The early chapters are better
read while en route, and the later chapters "live" while sur
rounded with the three faiths that have made Jerusalem the
most interesting city in the world. The old city still has
the same flavor, I'm sure, as it did centuries ago. The
Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy
Sepulchur are all infinitely more meaningful after reading Armstrong's history. So save the money that local guides want to charge you and read Armstrong's book, muster your self-control (if you have any) and wait until you're on your way to the holy city to read her
rich account of Jerusalem, a city that still needs our prayers
to live up to its name--"city of peace."
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
While this is a superb, fair-minded and empathetic history of the city which will be enlightening to all except very knowledgeable specialists, it is at the same time Karen Armstrong's meditation on the "sacred geography" conceived by the three faiths in its spiritual and its material form. She is very sympathetic to and receptive of the spiritual ideals of all three faiths, and is dismayed by how so often they have all been debased by bitter rivalries (between as well as within religions), by demands for exclusivity and domination, as well as by the "idolatry to see a shrine or a city as the ultimate goal of religion". This is something the wisest theologians - few, alas, in number - have taught. At the same time, however, a material shrine is one expression of one's spiritual identity, so that the perceived threat or the destruction of a shrine - let alone expulsions and exile - are experienced as violations of one's spiritual identity. She shows that the potency of religious symbolism is such that even secular nationalism (to which she perhaps does not pay quite enough attention) has recourse to it. She shows how the best periods in the history of the city have been those few when the rulers of one faith or ethnicity have respected the faith, ethnicity and buildings of another. She is not optimistic that such wisdom is available in Jerusalem in the near future.
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