4 1 2 stars actually This book was massive in it s scope and reach, the best sentence to summarize it and get a sense of The amount of work and the nuances that went into this book comes from the book itself Jerusalem s history is a chronicle of settlers, colonists and pilgrims, who have included Arabs, Jews and many others, in a place that has grown and contracted many times Duringthan a Millennium of Islamic rule, Jerusalem was repeatedly colonized by Islamic settlers, scholars, Sufis 4 1 2 stars actually This book was massive in it s scope and reach, the best sentence to summarize it and get a sense of The amount of work and the nuances that went into this book comes from the book itself Jerusalem s history is a chronicle of settlers, colonists and pilgrims, who have included Arabs, Jews and many others, in a place that has grown and contracted many times Duringthan a Millennium of Islamic rule, Jerusalem was repeatedly colonized by Islamic settlers, scholars, Sufis and pilgrims who were Arabs, Turks, Indians, Sudanese, Iranians, Kurds, Iraqis and Maghrebis, as well as Christian Armenians Serbs, Georgians and Russian Jews who later settled there for similar reasons this books tries to chronicle all of this migrations , and at the same time trying not to offer anyone s claim to the Holy City It is a great work of study , but you will define get information overload and in a case as complex as Jerusalem evenso Definitely recommend it , but remember this is a study of very different multitude of cultures, peoples and nationalities , so don t expect this to be an easy book Jerusalem is a fascinating city Holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims it has at times been the center of internaational intrigue, conflict, and reverence and at other times a forgotten backwater pile of rocks Its history stretches over thousands of years and has been the subject of countless prayers, hopes, dreams, and aspirations It has inspired awe of the divine and hatred for our fellow human Its history is the history of East meeting West, of religion and realpolitik, of imperialism and Jerusalem is a fascinating city Holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims it has at times been the center of internaational intrigue, conflict, and reverence and at other times a forgotten backwater pile of rocks Its history stretches over thousands of years and has been the subject of countless prayers, hopes, dreams, and aspirations It has inspired awe of the divine and hatred for our fellow human Its history is the history of East meeting West, of religion and realpolitik, of imperialism and indigenous rights It is a messy, complicated, and bloodstained city that has at times been Jewish, Christian, and Muslim It is, simply put, as complicated a place as it is holy.Jerusalem The Biography sets out the very ambitious task of telling the story of this embodiment of contradictions It presents an unbroken account of what was happening to the city and the surrounding area from its founding through the present day I think in some ways the book succeeds in relating the events of Jerusalem but fails in telling the story of Jerusalem.What I mean by that is Montefiore does a very thorough job cataloging the important events and happenings of Jerusalem but for much of the book I felt like I was reading one long Wikipedia article The writing, for most of the book, was very dry and had a very simple structure of A happened then B happened then C happened It was not terribly engaging and I didn t feel as though Montefiore provided much added value to the narrative of events This did diminish as the narrative approached contemporary times and my guess is there just wasn t a ton of sources for a lot of Jerusalem s early history for Montefiore to draw upon.But lackluster writing aside the story of Jerusalem is fascinating It has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times It has fluctuated in importance over the course of its existence Sometimes having massive amounts of wealth poured into it to beautify it, sometimes ignored as an inconsequential town Its population has likewise fluctuated significantly over the period from a bustling metropolis to a ghost town While I consider myself an appreciator of history there was much that I was surprised to learn such as The early Jewish dynasties and ruling families Macabees and Herodians for instance were just as petty, scheming, shortsighted, and conniving as Western aristocrats I guess we all are human underneath, warts and all Even at the height of its power as an independent kingdom Jerusalem was very much a small fish in a pond with much, much bigger fish and had to play them off against each other to maintain some degree of independence The aforementioned fluctuation of Jerusalem s importance and size over the years It was as though Christian Bale s amazing power of losing and gaining weight for movie roles was manifested as a city I had no idea how serious the Russians took Jerusalem and how important of a role Jerusalem played in international power politics of the Ottoman era Heck, a French Catholic Russian Eastern Orthodox dispute over control of the Church of the Holy Sepluchre basically started The Crimean War Speaking of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the many churches that maintain it violently hate each otherfrom Wikipedia On a hot summer day in 2002, a Coptic monk moved his chair from its agreed spot into the shade This was interpreted as a hostile move by the Ethiopians, and eleven were hospitalized after the resulting fracasLast time I checked a fracas does not end in ELEVEN hospitalizations And compared to historic HS fracases detailed in the book this fracas was a relatively timid affair Apparently for a good chunk of time under the Ottomans Jerusalem was a wretched hive of scum and villainy in so far as it was a crass tourist trap AND a freewheeling anything goes city Sort of the wild west in the middle east Montefiore quotes a bunch of people s experiences there as being completely turned off or disgusted by the state the city and holy places are in Having visited this ancient city twice I have a very difficult time reconciling that version of Jerusalem withe modern, holy, and religious city it is now.And those were just some of the many nuggets of history I uncovered with this book This book does not lack for historical insights, I just wish the writing was up to the monumental task of telling this complex and unique story of humanity and the divine City of the Book My first sight of Jerusalem was in a taxi, driving up from the airport at Tel Aviv It was a winter afternoon in late November, with the sun well down on the horizon The colour tones were all light grey, not drab, just grey upon grey, dramatically punctuated by a brilliant flash of gold from the Dome of the Rock it was almost as if I had been allowed the briefest glimpse of the celestial city, Zion itself It was the new city we drove into, with the old beyond, the Turkish City of the Book My first sight of Jerusalem was in a taxi, driving up from the airport at Tel Aviv It was a winter afternoon in late November, with the sun well down on the horizon The colour tones were all light grey, not drab, just grey upon grey, dramatically punctuated by a brilliant flash of gold from the Dome of the Rock it was almost as if I had been allowed the briefest glimpse of the celestial city, Zion itself It was the new city we drove into, with the old beyond, the Turkish walls prominent on the horizon My first impression was of sheer ordinariness, all a bit anti climatic After all, Jerusalem is a place that one has visited countless times in the imagination the city of David, the city of Jesus, the city of Mohammed, the city of God It was only gradually that the reality caught up with the romance Yes, this is an ordinarily extraordinary place here I am walking on the flagstones of history itself, on the paths of destiny I ve now visited the city again through the pages of Simon Sebag Montefiore s Jerusalem the Biography What a story he has to tell, tragic and bloody, exhilarating and uplifting how well he tells it, with style, ease and a superb eye for detail, for the artist s colourful vignettes that bring the place to life It s the story of us all it s the story of civilization itself, of the rise and fall of empires and dynasties but it is the particular story of the Jews, the people who might be said to be defined by a place that for so long existed only in prayer and longing Next year in Jerusalem Largely driven out by the Romans in AD 70 and again in AD 135, they began an epic wandering of exile and return, one that has an almost mythic and Biblical quality, a greater Exodus In place of the Jews came so many others the Romans and their Byzantine inheritors, the Persians, the Arabs, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Crusaders, the Seljuk Turks the Kurds, the Mamaluks, the Mongols, the Ottomans and, in 1917, the British, General Allenby achieving something that had proved too much even for Richard the Lionheart Jerusalem is not so much a place,an obsession It was obsession, faith and persecution that finally saw the return of the first people of the Book Montefiore s biography is a stunning achievement given the range of time and the vastness of detail that has to be covered, given the stages of the life History has been laid down here layer by layer, one civilization building on the stones of another, one religion laid down on the beliefs of another, the sediments of time and faith But given the sensitivity of the place, given its importance in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the kind of archaeology that would uncover so much of what is hidden has always been problematic, particularly around the area of the Temple Mount In this particular regard the author touches on the story of one Captain Monty Parker, a louche Englishman, a sort of Flashman like figure, whose archaeological explorations in the city before the First World War in search of the Ark of the Covenant were carried out with an Indiana Jones lack of finesse He is the only man in history to have caused a riot that united Muslims and Jews The other thing about this deeply impressive and lucid book is that Montefiore manages to pack in so much so effortlessly without seeming to overwhelm one with detail but there is detail and detail aplenty, from high history to the comically Rabelaisian I found myself laughing out loud at certain parts, not just his account of Captain Monty but also his sketch of some of the earlier pilgrims, who did not always arrive filled with holy purpose and celestial thoughts It s important to remember that Jerusalem is on so many ways a city of sinners rather than saints Chaucer s Wife of Bath visited three times There is Arnold von Harff, a German knight, who visited the city in the fifteenth century, armed with a few phrases in Arabic and Hebrew, which leave little doubt as to his profane intentions How much will you give me I will give you a gulden.Are you a Jew Woman, let me sleep with you tonight.Good madam, I am ALREADY in your bed Yes, there are moments of comedy but it s heavily outweighed by the tragedy of a place where so much suffering and death has been caused by zealotry and fanaticism There is the madness of the city during the siege of Titus the horror of the mass crucifixions that followed its capture there is the massacre that took place after it fell to the Crusaders in 1099, which caused the streets to stink with decomposing flesh for months after massacre, mayhem and murder, century after century The tragedy, and the pettiness, has even invaded the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the supposed site of Christ s crucifixion, where the various Christian sects acted out ancient debates and hatreds, not stopping, on occasions, short of murder Montefiore is an excellent historian, the writer of superb biographies of people as diverse as Prince Potemkin and Josef Stalin I expect the highest degree of accuracy from him, which makes the occasional minor lapses all theannoying It was Louis IX and not Louis XI, the treacherous Spider King, who led the last effective crusade the idea of the latter on Crusade isthan ridiculous I can excuse that, a mere slip of the Roman digits, but what I finddifficult to overlook is the contention that General Charles Gordon helped to suppress the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, which took place fifteen years after his death But this is a minor quibble that did next to nothing to stop my enjoyment of a work of history that also manages to transform itself into a superlative work of literature I cannot recommend it highly enough Jerusalem is a masterpiece 10 stars Read this book.In Jerusalem Simon Sebag Montefiore presents not just a history of the city but of the region and much of the western world One finds that virtually every prophet and charlatan, king, queen, prince and despot, priest, politician, conquerer and crusader in recorded history has some connection to the city and has often trod its streets Jerusalem is the center of three of the world s religions yet until the 1900s was rarely larger than a small Jerusalem is a masterpiece 10 stars Read this book.In Jerusalem Simon Sebag Montefiore presents not just a history of the city but of the region and much of the western world One finds that virtually every prophet and charlatan, king, queen, prince and despot, priest, politician, conquerer and crusader in recorded history has some connection to the city and has often trod its streets Jerusalem is the center of three of the world s religions yet until the 1900s was rarely larger than a small town 30,000 inhabitants It has been fought over, raised, and rebuilt countless times,than any other city in history It has known little peace and remains a city in conflict today All of this history from Biblical times to the present Montefiore chronicles in clear, concise and importantly balanced detail the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Egyptian, European, Turk, Persian, and Arab experience all presented without favoritism, warts and all with a novelist s eye for character and narrative that makes Jerusalem a brisk and captivating read Montefoire s balanced approach presents some very interesting contrasts For example, while most identified with the Jewish people, Jerusalem prior to the 1880s often saw its worse days when ruled by Jews, infighting between various sects and nationalities often producing terrible unrest and blood shed Adding Christians to the mix typically made matters worse.Western literature describes the Crusades as an attempt to free the Holy City from tyranny and persecution by unbelievers The Crusades were in fact a land grab European rulers seeking to expand their realms into North Africa and the Middle East with the Catholic church providing justification Contrary to the crusader narrative, history shows that Jerusalem s Egyptian, Turk, Persian and Arab rulers where oftentolerant of other beliefs than its Jewish and Christian rulers Saladin and Suleiman not Richard the Lion Heart saved the city from squalor and turned it into one of the most treasured of the age.Montefoire clearly shows that from the 1500 s to today European and later US rulers are largely responsible for much of the conflict between Jews, Christians and the Arab world, granting there is certainly a long line of Egyptian, Turk, Persian and Arab rulers who have also contributed Much of this conflict results from attempts to create a Jewish homeland beginning in the 1900s which I was shocked to learn was initially intended not to protect Jews from persecution but rather to provide a base to convert them to Christianity to bring about the Rapture Ill treatment by the British and French in particular at this time caused many Arabs to side with anti Semite leaders in WW I Kaiser Wilhelm and WW II Hitler , giving birth to many of the militant organizations we read about today Sadly many reasonable proposals for peaceful Jewish Arab coexistence have been made and rejected over the years, often for selfish reasons In the end one finds that Jerusalem, a city that commands so much of the worlds attention for its size only 1MM people and 48 square miles, less 1 10 the population and over 100x times smaller than most US and European capitals , is unlikely to ever be the city of peace that Jews, Christians and Muslims wish it to be Too many people with competing visions for its future will continue to hold it hostage The Bible and Koran teach that the final battle between good an evil will take place at Jerusalem Reading Montefoire s Jerusalem one can argue that battle began two millennia ago and continues today.On my buy it, borrow it, skip it scale Buy ten copies, keep one and give the other nine to family, friends, acquaintances and or strangers on the street Jerusalem is that good Enjoy To try and tackle the history of one of the most famous cities in the world, in one book, is not the easiest of writing challenges, but Montefiore has had a pretty good go at it He has tried to cover from the very earliest references to relatively recent events, and this has made this a very substantial book indeed I won t try and surmise all 600 plus pages into a couple of paragraphs would be nigh on impossible, but suffice to say Montefiore has filled these pages with immense amounts of deta To try and tackle the history of one of the most famous cities in the world, in one book, is not the easiest of writing challenges, but Montefiore has had a pretty good go at it He has tried to cover from the very earliest references to relatively recent events, and this has made this a very substantial book indeed I won t try and surmise all 600 plus pages into a couple of paragraphs would be nigh on impossible, but suffice to say Montefiore has filled these pages with immense amounts of detail and history of the lives of the people that have occupied this city It has played a significant role in many world events and is considered one of the holiest places by the three abrahamic religions He sets the context for each of the eras and highlight the movers and shakers of that time.All good stuff, or so you would think But this amount of detail makes this so difficult to read at times, along with literally a cast of thousands over the millennia, it did feel like I was wading through it at times Jerusalem has been the place where much blood has been shed, and there is almost too much detail with regards to this My other big bugbear with it was footnotes These should be a small piece of information that adds to the main body of text, but some of these were huge A foot note that long should be in the main body, but if that were the case then it would have beenunreadable The author does add in some personal opinions too, not the done this for a history book, which should be impartial and non judgemental.That said is a book I m glad I have now read, and I feel a sense of achievement having done so, but I will be unlikely to pick it up again List of IllustrationsList of Family TreesList of MapsPrefaceAcknowledgementsNotes on Names, Transliterations and Titles Jerusalem Family TreesMapsBibliographyIndex The full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author s website at order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback We hope readers will a List of IllustrationsList of Family TreesList of MapsPrefaceAcknowledgementsNotes on Names, Transliterations and Titles Jerusalem Family TreesMapsBibliographyIndex The full and extremely extensive references for this book are available in the hardback edition and also on the author s website at order to make the paperback a manageable and readable size, the author and publishers have decided not to include the notes in the paperback We hope readers will agree that, for most, the balance of convenience is best served by this policy A very detailed, in depth history of one of the most complex, troubled, emotionally and religiously intense cities of the world, the ideological center of all three Abrahamic religions An emotionally exhausting tour, spanning across millennia of war, pilgrimage, cooperation and coexistence, fanaticism, corruption, mysticism and enlightenment The history of Jerusalem is the history of the World, it has been stated, and I definitely see some merit in this statement The weight of history feels o A very detailed, in depth history of one of the most complex, troubled, emotionally and religiously intense cities of the world, the ideological center of all three Abrahamic religions An emotionally exhausting tour, spanning across millennia of war, pilgrimage, cooperation and coexistence, fanaticism, corruption, mysticism and enlightenment The history of Jerusalem is the history of the World, it has been stated, and I definitely see some merit in this statement The weight of history feels overwhelming here, it really is a very special place It is also the city where these religions and people are forced to live very close together, and as such it is a litmus test for the maturity of human kind a test that currently, considering the political situation in the Middle East, is far from delivering flattering results The author provides a well researched, balanced history of this ancient city, providing an amazingly detailed overview of Jerusalem its history, people, religions, and architecture The book is well written, but I think that some of the author s selection choices are a bit questionable there is too much focus on the personal idiosyncrasies and histories of specific individuals who cares if the wife of some mid rank British officer had so many affairs , at the expenses of the coherence and explanatory depth of the main historical patterns and developments I think the author, who is certainly passionate about Jerusalem and its history, tried hard to keep the reader s interest alive, but in doing so he create something that occasionally feels disjoint and uneven I must admit though that for me reading this book has been at times an enlightening and occasionally even an exhilarating experience I have learned a lot about what Jerusalem is about, and the deep emotional, cultural, political and religious links that tie this unique city to the Jewish, Muslim and Christian traditions It is inseparable part of the DNA of all three religions, and only solutions that take into account this historical truth can be viable in the longer term Jerusalem is a treasure of the world I personally learned a lot by reading this book I already knew about the deep links between Christianity, the Muslim religion and Jerusalem, but only by reading this book I came to the full appreciation of the very profound links between Jerusalem and the Jewish culture, identity and tradition I think that now I have acomplete perspective of things And, while I knew that the history of Jerusalem and of the overlapping networks of conflicting claims to this city were something complex and difficult to accommodate, I did not know that it was so maddeningly complex I also learned about the important relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and Jerusalem, and the important part played by the Russian Jewish immigrants And, most importantly, I also learned that there were periods when the three different religions happily coexisted together I wish we could learn from these enlightened periods, rather than using history as a means to justify exclusivity and extremism Review to followwhen I have the energy to compile all my feelings, beyond the fact that i didn t like it A month laterI still don t have the energy to write a full review for this book There are some good points the sheer amount of research, the wealth of facts, the non bias of religion The bad points it reads like a textbook, there is too much information at times and it needed condensing, other parts felt dealt with too swiftly and left me wanting , the bits I enjoy Review to followwhen I have the energy to compile all my feelings, beyond the fact that i didn t like it A month laterI still don t have the energy to write a full review for this book There are some good points the sheer amount of research, the wealth of facts, the non bias of religion The bad points it reads like a textbook, there is too much information at times and it needed condensing, other parts felt dealt with too swiftly and left me wanting , the bits I enjoyed best were not really to do with Jerusalem bible stories, Anthony and Cleopatra etc despite being such a dense book I never got a proper feel of the city often needed to look up facts pictures online I thought this was an account of Jerusalem s rulers and religions, rather than a description of the city, it s people, or it s cultureThat s it There are other good reviews of this book out there Some praising it, some finding the same faults as me I appreciate the sheer amount of work that Simon Sebag Montefiore put into the book, but I had too many problems with it and ended up not finishing the book I can only rate it 1 star did not like it Let me explain my rating This book was extremely hard for me all the way through I knew if I took a break with another book, I would never pick it up again Nevertheless, the book IS informative and I AM glad I read it, but Books of non fiction do NOT have to be this hard to get through It is non fiction books like this that make people think the genre is difficult I protest It need not be so, and say this with my one star rating Later changed to two because I did learn about the city Let me explain my rating This book was extremely hard for me all the way through I knew if I took a break with another book, I would never pick it up again Nevertheless, the book IS informative and I AM glad I read it, but Books of non fiction do NOT have to be this hard to get through It is non fiction books like this that make people think the genre is difficult I protest It need not be so, and say this with my one star rating Later changed to two because I did learn about the city s history It was not a total waste of time The book is extremely dense and portions should have been cut by the editor One example the very end, the lyrical ending of the epilog, which otherwise rapidly recounts all the historical events from the Six Days War to the present There are numerous derogatory statements that are completely unnecessary These sweeping judgments are not suitable Just one example Truman is introduced as the mediocre senator from Missouri The author s personal relationship to characters of history should have been better clarified and irrelevant people with family connections to the author removed I am not reading this book to learn about the author s family History s violence is on the verge of being graphically depicted in the book Even though this book is so extensive, it is best understood if you know a lot before you even open its covers A word about the audiobook s narration by John Lee I have absolutely loved Lee s narration of other books, but his narration here was a huge disappointment The pacing is wrong, and by that I mean that the words in a sentence are not correctly emphasized It is easy to follow, yes, but it is almost sung So strange and so inappropriate for a book of non fiction In that every single sentence holds so much information, it is a book hard to listen to I didn t need the pictures or maps included in the paper book since such is easily found on the internet You do need access to internet when listening to the audiobook It seems to me that the book s presentation of the three religions Christianity, Judaism and Islam is balanced Perhaps I am not the best judge since I read this book to learn Yes, you have to be a martyr to get through the whole book It is over Thank God, which ever one you happen to choose I personally adhere to no religion Look at the problems they cause In chapter 11 It isn t getting easier If I say this is dense, I really mean it is d e n s e I am going to be proud of myself when it is done.All the difficult names and places and boy what violence What does it say about the human species Phew Don t get me wrong There is a lot to learn from this book, but I instead see it as a textbook at university where you spend a semester on it I in fact did take a semester on the the birth of Christianity and the facts that are known about Jesus, but that was years ago That is why I need this book.I like that in the audiobook the notes are read as part of the text They are very helpful What I am getting is history Straight history Too me it seems as a balanced view of the different religions events, but I am perhaps not a good judge I have heard complaints that if you have faith, well you just don t see the facts this way Maybe I am wrong about it being balanced I don t yet have a feel for the city, but I assume that will come later as we reach modern times You have to understand the history and the growth of the three religions to understand the city, so we are starting at the right end Of course, this is not a book just about the city but also of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.Chronologically speaking I am at the point where Jesus has been crucified and Christianity is developing from Judaism Islam is of course far ahead I liked that the book went back even to Moses, King David and the construction of the first temple by Solomon I have no intention of stopping, but it is NOT an easy read DAUNTING to say the least A few chapters in This is hard for me on audio It moves rather fast and you have to immediately know where old places and peoples are, like Thrace and the Samaritans and Phoenicia I suppose if you know all this BEFOREHAND it is easier I have to rewind incessantly John Lee is the narrator and I thought, He is great this will be no problem Wrong, wrong wrong He sort of sings the words I want slow, clear, strong narration for a non fiction book since I want to pick up every fact It will probably get a bit easier when we get out of the early biblical times I like that the book moves chronologically forward Najnowsza ksi ka autora wiatowych bestseller w Stalin Dw r czerwonego cara Stalin M ode lata despoty oraz Potiomkin i Sasze ka Pasjonuj ca opowie o historii Jerozolimy na tle wojen, powsta i los w jej kr l w, cesarzy, zdobywc w oraz prorok w, wi tych, pisarzy, poet w, kt rzy tworzyli, burzyli, odbudowywali i spisywali dzieje wi tego Miasta Od kr la Dawida do Ariela Szarona od Abrahama do Jezusa i Mahometa od J zefa Flawiusza do Amosa OzaWykorzystuj c nieznane wcze niej archiwalia, najnowsze badania naukowe oraz dokumenty swojej rodziny i w asne wspomnienia, Simon Sebag Montefiore stworzy wspania epopej trzech tysi cy lat wiary, fanatyzmu, zbrodni i wsp istnienia Znakomita biografia Jerozolimy Simona Sebaga Montefiorego ma wielko i rozmach jej trzechtysi cletniej historii Dzi ki tytanicznej pracy badawczej autora i jego talentowi o ywiania przesz o ci ta fascynuj ca ksi ka jest prawdziw skarbnic wiedzy zar wno dla uczonych, jak i laik wHenry Kissinger