- Hardcover: 688 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; First American edition (October 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307266516
- ISBN-13: 978-0307266514
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 2.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 371 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jerusalem: The Biography Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 25, 2011
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“It's a wonderful book . . . [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.”
—President Bill Clinton, #1 holiday book pick on the Today Show
“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
“This is a fittingly vast and dazzling portrait of Jerusalem, utterly compelling from start to finish.”
—Christopher Hart, Sunday Times (UK)
“Immensely readable . . . Montefiore is that rarest of things: a historian who writes great, weighty tomes that read like the best thrillers . . . He has a visceral understanding of what makes history worth reading.”
—Philip Kerr, Newsweek
“Ambitious and arresting . . . A powerful achievement, erudite without pedantry, and intimate with the complex archaeology of the city on the ground. In the matter of competing faiths, it is all but pitch-perfect . . . Jerusalem: The Biography is a double-headed book: at once a scholarly record and an exuberantly written popular tour de force.”
—Colin Thubron, New York Review of Books
“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
“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.”
“Simon Sebag Montefiore’s magnificent biography of Jerusalem has all the grandeur and sweep of her 3,000-year history. His masterful research and his gift for bringing it all to life make this fascinating work a treasure-trove for scholars and laymen alike.”
“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.”
—Imre Lake, Newark Star-Ledger
“A Meisterwerk . . . As one becomes gripped by the rich, pungent detail of the lives of Jerusalem’s rulers and the ruled, it becomes clear why this work was conceived as a biography. It provides a perfect, almost providentially designed, opportunity for one of our greatest biographers to display every one of his skills. Montefiore has a novelist’s eye, a great journalist’s nose and a great historian’s touch . . . He manages to construct a history that no fair-minded reader can conclude is anything other than judicious, nuanced, balanced, and sensitive . . . When history is written this way one can never have too much.”
—Michael Gove, Times (UK)
“Already a classic—a gripping and thought-provoking study of the city whose modern religious, political and ethnic rivalries can be understood only in the context of its preceding 3,000 years of history. Montefiore writes with verve, sensitivity and a keen eye for the entertaining historical detail.”
“A masterly, vastly entertaining, and timely book . . . Montefiore succeeds because of the power of his storytelling. [He] has an unerring eye for the vivid detail to illustrate his point and the telling quote to place it in context . . . Some fascinating sources are entirely new to English readers . . . This is a compelling narrative and an important book.”
—Victor Sebestyen, Evening Standard
“An astoundingly ambitious, triumphantly epic history of the city . . . Montefiore’s achievement, in fashioning a fluent narrative out of such daunting material, can hardly be praised enough . . . A marvellous book.”
—Tom Holland, The Sunday Telegraph
“Montefiore’s book, packed with fascinating and often grisly detail, is a gripping account of war, betrayal, looting, rape, massacre, sadistic torture, fanaticism, feuds, persecution, corruption, hypocrisy, and spirituality.”
—Antony Beevor, Guardian
“An outstanding work . . . Anyone who has a role to play [in the future of Jerusalem] would do well to read this superbly objective, elegantly written, and highly entertaining book.”
—Saul David, Mail on Sunday
“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.”
—Jay 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)
“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 archives . . . 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)
“Totally gripping . . . Montefiore’s history of Jerusalem is a labour of love and scholarship. It is a considerable achievement to have created a sense of pace and variety throughout his 3,000-year narrative. He has a wonderful ear for the absurdities and the adventurers of the past.”
—Barnaby Rogerson, Independent
About the Author
Simon Sebag Montefiore read history at Cambridge University. His books have been published in more than thirty-five languages. Potemkin: Catherine the Great’s Imperial Partner was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper and Marsh Biography prizes in Britain. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar was awarded the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. Young Stalin won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Award (U.K.), le Grand Prix de la biographie politique (France) and the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Montefiore lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.
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Other periods were more competently researched and the book is otherwise a good reference for much if not all of the rich history. There is an even handed approach for the barbarity of both Christians and Muslims, for example.
The preferential red carpet treatment for the cruel Roman siege is an unforgivable blot on what otherwise could have been a truly excellent work.
This book enables one to place the present ebb and flow of mayhem and slaughter over Jerusalem into context and for that I am extremely grateful to the author. Whether ALL and every detail is true is really irrelevant. I am not interested in whether the Jesus, who was crucified on the cross, in a huff really did tip over the tables of the money lenders but the vision of this grumpy Messiah doing so did make me smile. What is fact is that the religions, tribes, sects and nationalities that all want a slice of Jerusalem will continue to be denied their wishes whilst one of them holds control. How it happened that the Jews finally have Israel and control of Jerusalem is simply part of the city's history. It's their turn but those denied control are grumpy, as they have been for millennia. This book enables one to wonder at why anyone could possibly think (the arrogance of ex British PM Tony Blair comes to mind here) that they could ever mediate all parties with an interest in the city to produce everlasting peace. But what comes out of its pages is the clear fact that man, in search of eternal salvation of his soul, will not hesitate to inflict immeasurable harm on others to achieve his aims. Stand in his way at your peril. This very readable book allowed me a much deeper understanding of the turmoil that is that part of the world and especially allows one to place the atrocities of the current unrest in Syria into context. Disgruntled parties have been lobbing stones at each other - and worse, much worse - for thousands of years, Jerusalem, bombed, bruised and besieged as the ultimate prize. And so it continues.
I would have given it five stars but for one fact that I found the amount of detail in names utterly bewildering and in many places, impossible to follow. But this is a learned book, the author to be congratulated on such a monumental work.