Book Review: Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Title: Jerusalem: The Biography
Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
Publisher: Weidenfeld And Nicholson, Orion Books, Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0297866923
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 696
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Jerusalem: The Biography is one of the great reads of the year for me and you should not miss out on reading this one. I have always loved reading anything by Simon Sebag Montefiore. He writes with honesty and passion that is hard to miss. Whether it is about Stalin as a boy and adolescent to Monsters and Heroes, Montefiore does a remarkable job of it.

Jerusalem is a true masterpiece – a biography of a city and yet so much more. It is not easy to write about a city – and also considering that the city is so old and ravaged by the brutalities of time. The thing about the book is that the reader feels as though he is stepping back in time and experiencing the history of Jerusalem first hand.
Jerusalem the book has been written in a very colourful manner – full of anecdotes, how the city came to be what it is today, the rulers, the ones who squandered and looted its riches, the ones who hold it in high regard – its Kings and its Prophets. Montefiore does not leave any stone unturned.

Having said that, there were times I would tend to disagree with the author and yet could not put the book down. There is not much in terms of guidance or analysis by the writer, and yet the book shines. What got me started was the role Jerusalem plays in the apocalyptic vision of fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, and how that has been brought to light in this book. The other aspect that got me going was the deep-rooted connection between Christians and Muslims is made so evident and clear throughout the book and the way it is done is marvellous.

Sparkling and profound, the book is written keeping in mind the most terrible things that have happened behind her walls and also the richness of its land. The book does not take sides. It is an unbiased book and at the same time lays the facts as they are which should be the case while writing about a city. My favourite chapter in the book is, “Sunset of the Byzantines” which truly captures the essence of the book – its timeline and charisma in drawing historical references.

To review a book of Jerusalem’s stature would definitely require a research paper. It is that intense and deep. What I can say is that this is not one of your airport reads. It requires the time and attention that a book of this kind deserves. It however makes you turn the page and wonder at the scale and scope of Jerusalem’s place in history.

Affiliate Link:

Buy Jerusalem: The Biography from Flipkart.com

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

  1. Fred

    No where in the world is as important as Jerusalem. It has been a source of conflict for more than 2000 years. This sounds like a wonderful book. Elaine Charles played an extract of it on her radio Show “The Book Report” recently. That made me interested in finding out more about the book. Listen to the archived show on http://bookreportradio.com

    Reply
  2. vegetarianterrorist

    Thanks for the wonderful review. I would add that Montefiore paints a picture of present day Jerusalem that is curiously missing the stark reality that Israel has become a segregated country, most notably in Israeli Occupied East Jerusalem. He does not seem to either know or want to write about the daily crimes against humanity which affect Palestinians in East Jerusalem. To see how Palestinian homes in Jerusalem are demolished is heartbreaking, and many are, see http://electronicintifada.net/search/site/demolition%20jerusalem
    One wonders if the author has an interest in the Montefiore Hotel – with its 47 comfortable rooms – and wants to somehow promote tourism by ignoring the harsh realities, one being the cruel destruction of a children’s playground in East Jerusalem, simply because the children are not Jewish. This was captured on video at http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/adri-nieuwhof/video-shows-uk-manufactured-jcb-equipment-destroying-jerusalem-playground

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s