Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jerusalem, the Biography

Steven Zoraster recommends we read Cairo To Damascus, if we're interested Egypt, even though it's hardly a recent book.

If it's brand new books you prefer, there's one about Jerusalem which is making waves, at least in Britain: Simon Sebag Montefiore's Jerusalem: The Biography. (Alas, in the US it will only be published much later this year; in the meantime you'll have to wait or buy it from the Brits). It has been reviewed by Antony Beevor in the Guardian; by Virginaia Blackburn in The Express, by John Cornwell in the Financial Times; by Bruce Anderson in Prospect; and, the review I liked the most, by Tom Holland in The Telegraph. There are links to a reading by the author here, and an article by Montefiore himself about Jerusalem, here.

I don't see how flooding the British airwaves with praise for a book about the history of Jerusalem can be a bad thing, and if lots of people read it, all the better.

On a personal level, apparently Montefiore's book ends with the Israeli conquest of the city in 1967. These days I'm gearing up to write a book of my own about Jerusalem, starting with 1967. Just saying.


Anonymous said...

I can assure you of this: If you write a book, put me down for at least 10 copies for distribution to friends & family.

Be Kef!


Silke said...


thanks for the additional info on "Jerusalem"

In his BBC History Magazine interview he said that Begin and the Mufti were both considered terrorists by some and heroes by others then and to this day.

Did Begin labour for genocide?

He said that his ancestor was against Zionism.

So let's hope that the book will still be good for Israel.

and in his JC piece he admires "Mo" for having fathered a child at 81 with a servant girl. I hope the experience for the servant girl was tolerable and that at least she and the child were adequately provided for.

I am all in favour that other times were other times and I can't stand authors dripping with PC but still there are writers who put it this way and writers who put it that way.

- did you notice that he starts his book talk with an over the top eulogy for Dome of the Rock.


Even if your history starts in 1967 given the place it is about I trust that there will be enough history from before in it when you explain how what became the way it is.

Bella said...

Actually the FT review by John Cornwell is absolutely vile.

"Please respect's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article -

In the meantime, it is the determined aspiration of extremist Zionist Jews and Zionist Christians, who hail mostly from America, to expel the Muslims from the Temple Mount, which they have held for 1,300 years. The Jewish Zionists seek to rebuild Herod’s Temple and reinstitute animal sacrifice (special cattle are being reared to this end)."

Sylvia said...

"The Jewish Zionists seek to rebuild Herod’s Temple and reinstitute animal sacrifice (special cattle are being reared to this end)."

Ignoramuses. In fact, Jews are prohibited from rebuilding Herod's Temple on Temple Mount. Everyone knows that in Israel including the Islamists who feed those fears. All Rabbis agree on that point (perhaps the only point on which they agree).

We just don't tend to spell out the reason out of sensitivity toward Muslim feelings.

bataween said...

Simon Sebag-Montefiore bends over backwards to give equal weight to Christian and Muslim claims to Jerusalem. This kind of political correctness we can do without. Yaacov you have your work cut out!