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Jerusalem: The Biography Hardcover – 27 Jan 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (27 Jan 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297852655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297852650
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over 45 languages. His next major history book will be 'The Romanovs: 1613-1918,' a full history of the nineteen tsars of the Romanov dynasty over three hundred years, to be published in 2016.
He has won literary prizes for both fiction and non-fiction. His latest novel, 'One Night in Winter' won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was longlisted for the Orwell Prize. His thriller-love-stories set in Russia -'One Night in Winter' and 'Sashenka' - are both out in paperback.
Amongst his history books: 'Catherine the Great & Potemkin' was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper, and Marsh Biography Prizes. 'Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar' won the History Book of the Year Prize at the British Book Awards. 'Young Stalin' won the Costa Biography Award (UK), the LA Times Book Prize for Biography (US), Le Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique (France) and the Kreisky Prize for Political Literature (Austria). 'Jerusalem: The Biography' won Jewish Book of the Year Prize (USA) and was Sunday Times number one non-fiction bestseller (UK).
Montefiore read history at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University where he was awarded his Doctorate of Philosophy. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham, Dr Montefiore is the presenter of 3 BBC TV series Jerusalem (2011); Rome (2012) and Istanbul/Constantinople - 'Byzantium: a tale of 3 cities'...

To follow the author on twitter: @simonmontefiore. For more information: www.simonsebagmontefiore.com

Product Description

Review

A fittingly vast and dazzling portrait of Jerusalem, utterly compelling from start to finish. (Christopher Hart THE SUNDAY TIMES)

Astoundingly ambitious and triumphantly epic history...His achievement, in fashioning a fluent narrative out of such daunting material can hardly be praised enough. There are few themes as demanding as the history of Jerusalem...tautly gripping...a book with its gaze fixed on the stars [but] also with its feet firmly in the gutter... A heavenly city Jerusalem may be; but it is also a relentlessly terrestrial one. The achievement of this marvellous book is to fuse them into one biography. (Tom Holland THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)

as one turns the pages of Simon Sebag Montefiore's absorbing book...[one] becomes gripped by the rich, pungent detail of the lives of Jerusalem's rulers and the ruled. Montefiore has a great novelist's eye for detail, a great journalist's nose for human frailty, and a great historian's touch... judicious, nuanced, balanced and sensitive... when a history is written this way one can never have too much. (Michael Gove THE TIMES)

Outstanding, superbly objective, elegantly written and highly entertaining (Saul David MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Simon Sebag Montefiore's history of Jerusalem is a labour of love and scholarship... a considerable achievement... he has a wonderful ear for the absurdities and adventurers of the past... totally gripping... vivid compelling, engaged, engrossing, knowledgeable (Barnaby Rogerson THE INDEPENDENT)

Compelling and thought-provoking...Working on an immense chronological and thematic canvas Sebag Montefiore does his subject more than justice. He narrates the terrible history of Jerusalem vividly and graphically... fascinating but ghastly. (Munro Price THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Montefiore's book, packed with fascinating and often grisly detail, is a gripping account of war, betrayal, rape, massacre, sadistic torture, fanaticism, feuds, persecution, corruption, hypocrisy and spirituality...Montefiore's narrative is remarkably objective...A reliable and compelling account (Antony Beevor THE GUARDIAN)

masterly, vastly entertaining and timely... Sebag Montefiore has an unerring eye for the vivid detail to illustrate his point and the telling quote to place it in context... a compelling narrative and an important book. (Victor Sebestyen EVENING STANDARD)

Jerusalem is an extraordinary achievement, written with imagination and energy that threatens to mesmerize and exhaust the reader at the same time...the resulting impression is of a unique borderline personality, with an irrepressible capacity for love and hatred; an aptitude for poetry, prophecy and the sacred; with no lack of the grotesquely profane...Read this book. (FINANCIAL TIMES John Cornwell)

To write a "biography" of Jerusalem is a formidable undertaking. Simon Sebag Montefiore has risen to the challenge. His book can be commended to anyone who is planning a trip to Jerusalem, or who wants background on the Palestinian question - or who just enjoys a good read. (PROSPECT)

Jerusalem is as a big as its gets... brilliantly accomplished (Dan Jones INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

This is [a] compendious and fleet-footed history of a city (Jonathan Beckman THE OBSERVER)

A riveting account of the eternal battle to prove whose God is best. (WORD magazine)

an enormous and enthralling epic, the prose equivalent of those sprawling Hollywood films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur or The Fall Of The Roman Empire. Here are dashing warrior kings, feuding prophets and priests, beautiful and dangerous women, spectacular battles and a potent mix of piety and profanity. All human life was there. All human life is here...this magnificent history gives the general reader a vivid insight into a conflict that seems without resolution. (Peter Burton DAILY EXPRESS)

a tour de force (Philip Mansel SPECTATOR)

Montefiore has constructed a narrative that has a pleasing flow and more than does justice to his subject...his history is remarkably clear-eyed and even-handed whether recounting tales of Jewish, Persian, Greek, Roman, Arab, Crusader, Ottoman or British rulers of the city. (SUNDAY HERALD, GLASGOW)

Religion is not an abstract theory...It involves the story of people's actual encounters with God. Simon Sebag Montefiore understands this...his lack of theological training... makes him exceptionally sympathetic to the city whose story he tells. He is not trying to impose some theory upon it. He just wants to tell the tale of its terrible, beautiful, God-intoxicated, squalid (and surprisingly louche) life...There is never a dull page. (Charles Moore DAILY TELEGRAPH)

superb (Paul Levy WALL STREET JOURNAL)

compelling...it is a tribute to the author's skill that he has been able to make 672 pages highly readable. (CATHOLIC HERALD)

As a writer, Mr Montefiore has an elegant turn of phrase and an unerring ear for the anecdote that will cut to the heart of a story. When Queen Victoria's son, the 20-year-old Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, rode into Jerusalem in 1862, escorted by 100 Ottoman cavalrymen, the plump princeling could think of little else but getting a Crusader tattoo on his arm... It is this kind of detail that makes "Jerusalem" a particular joy to read. (THE ECONOMIST)

authoritative and illuminating...Cantering through 3,000 years of dramatic history at a lively pace and with never a dull moment in the 500-odd pages... I found the chapters about the British rule in the region especially fascinating...[a] commendable analysis (THE OLDIE)

Sebag Montefiore made a judicious choice in privileging the modern era while not neglecting any important chapter in the city's history. This reviewer... was impressed by Sebag Montefiore's ability to find the right tone, and to retain a fair approach to Jerusalem's history. (TLS)

Anyone with an interest in history should read this, if only to be reminded of just how much history has rolled back and forth over this pile of stones between 1458 and today. In fact, when compared with the carnage visited on it by the Romans, Crusaders, Albanians and, in the 12th century, the teenage King of Norway, the last 100 years there have been relatively peaceful. (David Hepworth THE WORD MAGAZINE - 10 Best Books of 2011)

Book Description

The epic story of Jerusalem told through the lives of the men and women who created, ruled and inhabited it.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Davidoff on 2 Feb 2011
Format: Hardcover
Right from the off, with a blistering opening set in 70AD as the Roman general Titus lays siege to Jerusalem, this is a well-paced and absolutely gripping read.

Early on Simon Sebag Montefiore tells us that a story of Jerusalem is, really, `the story of the world'. If at the beginning I was sceptical, by the end I was not. What stops Jerusalem from being a Wikipedian succession of kings, rabbis, muftis and patriarchs is the author's elegant and consistent ability to supply fascinating characters - the kind of characters you might not expect to find in a book like this. For every despot - and there are plenty - Sebag Montefiore gives us a rake, a bungler or an eccentric. Just as Jerusalem emerges as a place of religious intensity, it is also a city addicted to vice.

An important and beautifully produced book. Highly recommended.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Asmahan on 15 May 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came to this book as an Arab reader, growing up with songs, poems, and books written about beloved Jerusalem, but never have I come across a book offering such a luxurious detailed and honest view and at such a scale! Written with remarkable neutrality and taking us through the diverse and rich history of the most disputed and news making region in the world! This comprehensive, and unpatronising treatment of Jerusalem's past is neither overwhelmingly scholarly to gloss over the gory (and fascinating) details, nor too hurried as to miss out important facts. Simon Sebag Montefiore combines the rare talent of total political and cultural understanding with a great and most eloquent narrating skill!

"Jerusalem, the Biography" is a new sort of History, written as a biography, through the people who made Jerusalem, starting with King David and ending with Barrack Obama, over a span of 3000 years. Each section is about a person who, made, destroyed, believed in, or fought for Jerusalem, some are ordinary people, some are monsters and dictators. There is massacre, siege, blood, violence, but also beautiful poetry.

The story of Jerusalem, is truly (as the author expressed) the story of the world, as well, of the Middle East, of religion, of holiness, of empire! I was thrilled to read about one of the greatest philosophers, the Arab historiographer "Ibn Khaldoon", about Suleiman the Magnificent, Caliph Muawiya, Saladin Dynasty, Druze princess and angelic voiced Singer "Asmahan", the Hashemite (Sherifian) Dynasty, and most exciting to read was some poignant poetry by Nizar Qabbani.
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134 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Rose BookBud on 22 Jan 2011
Format: Hardcover
If Jerusalem is a City of World History then it is the capital of blood and holiness. Simon Sebag Montefiore's superb new book is rich with salacious detail, scholarship and narrative drive. Such has been Jerusalem's centrality to history that the author is able to use the city as a prism to shine light upon a number of diverse periods and movements - Roman, Jewish, Christian and Islamic.
The structure of the book is chronological and finely weighted. Jerusalem has witnessed blood upon the hands of Jews, Christians and Muslims alike - yet the author is balanced and insightful enough to praise those rulers and characters of all religions who infused Jerusalem with a sense of tolerance, prosperity and architectural beauty.
Jerusalem may be a long book, but it is never laboured. One can read this book cover to cover, or dip into it to mine facts or comment on your favourite chapters, such as the Crusades or the middle east during WWI or WWII.
Am pleased to say that Jerusalem: The Biography lives up to the anticipation and hype.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Sophie Pullan on 23 Jan 2011
Format: Hardcover
Throughout history Jerusalem seems to have been at the hub of where the world can come together - and then also pull itself apart. The city, from King David's time to the present day, has served as a place of worship and a prize to be won. Simon Sebag Montefiore has written an expansively researched but pacy account of this desert town which, even now, somehow resides at the centre of the world. In many ways the author's Jerusalem is a stage, upon which players make their entrances and exits - but what characters they are: prostitutes and prophets, crusaders and caliphs, worshippers and warmongers.
If you enjoyed the author's gossipy yet elegantly written biographies of Stalin then you should enjoy this title too.
The publishers should also be applauded for framing such a sumptuous portrait in old fashioned production values. The cover is attractive and textured, the book contains four sets of plates where one usually just gets one or two nowadays and the paper quality and typesetting are excellent. My advice is to buy this book as a present for someone - and read it first.
My one criticism would be that I would have liked the maps to be in with the text, rather than filed at the end.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By jenniferangeline on 6 Feb 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem is an entertaining and engaging romp through history, the present instability in Egypt and the Middle East adds greater resonance to this wonderful book.
Jerusalem: The Biography tells of past uprisings, powerful yet unpopular leaders, bloodshed and religious and political conflict.
I purchased this book after reading various favourable reviews - yet such is the scope and richness of this book that no one review (including this one) can do justice to this book, period and region (which is again at the centre of the world's attention).
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