The epic story of Jerusalem told through the lives of the men and women who created, ruled and inhabited it.
Simon Sebag Montefiore was born in 1965 and read history at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Santa Montefiore, and their two children.
Few historians have demonstrated the vision, mastery, and boldness necessary to publish on a subject so vast and in such detail as Montefiore (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar). Since Jerusalem's origins as a settlement more than 5000 years ago, its history, in the author's citation of 19th-century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, is "the history of the world." Montefiore explains the city's significance to the three Abrahamic faiths, the idiosyncrasies of its builders and conquerors, and the persistent perception there of a "divine presence." Montefiore starts with King David (he takes the Old Testament as the historical source), gets to the "quixotic and risky but pious" Crusades about halfway through the book, and goes on to note such "pilgrims" as Rasputin and Mark Twain. He confronts challenging questions, including the destruction of the Temple at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E. and by Titus in 70 C.E. and the remarkable "Dome of the Rock," and he moves onward to the creation of modern Israel. VERDICT A marvelous panorama for all readers with an interest in religious studies or world history. [See Prepub Alert, 4/4/11.]-Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ.-Erie (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.