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Shout Out: Jerusalem: The Biography, Simon Sebag Montefiore

Published 2010

I always enjoy writing a Shout Out, giving praise to a service or product, or an individual that has gone beyond the expected.

This time around the Shout Out is for a book.

I’m tempted to refer to Simon Sebag Montefiore's epic tome as a novel, which of course it's not. That said, the pages read as in the best tradition of a suspense novel. There is intrigue, trickery, deception, mayhem, anarchy, murder, assassination, massacre, rape, love and so much more on every page.

If you are looking for the history of Jerusalem in a scholarly work, then look elsewhere. However, if you are looking for a well written, well-researched rip-roaring adventure yarn, then Jerusalem: The Biography is for you. It’s hard to put down.

In his October 2011 New York Times appraisal of Jerusalem: The Biography, Jonathan Rosen entitled his review “Caliphs, Crusaders, and the Bloody History of Jerusalem”

For me, while the early history of Jerusalem based on the bible and other sources is interesting, what grabbed my undivided attention was the post bible period through to the 20th century. (Simon Montefiore takes the reading as far as 1967 and the Six Day War.) I appreciate that you can’t have one without the other, that the post bible period is built on the foundations of the former. The problem is that as a non-religious person, I find the bible to be made-up of stories rather than facts. Of course, research and archaeology support much of the bible, nevertheless, I can’t relate to the period as I can with the post bible years.

This is my first Simon Montefiore, I now look forward to reading his other historical offerings.


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