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Publisher's Summary

Jerusalem lies at the centre of the world, the capital of three faiths, the prize of many conquerors, the jewel of many empires, and the eye of the storm of today's battle of civilisations. But the city lacks a biography. It lacks a secret history. Simon Sebag Montefiore's epic account is seen through kings, conquerors, emperors and soldiers; Muslims, Jews, Christians, Macedonians, Romans and Greeks; Palestinians and Israelis; from King David via Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Herod, Caesar, Cleopatra, Jesus and Saladin, to Churchill, King Hussein, Anwar Sadat and Ariel Sharon. Their individual stories combine to form the biography of a city - a gritty, dramatic, violent tale of power, empire, love, vanity, luxury and death, bringing three thousand years of history vividly to life.

©2011 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group Limited
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Jerusalem

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  • 05-22-22

Choped

There's an unabridged version of this book which is much better at explaining details. Jerusalem is not a city that can be summarized.

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Excellent

An amazing history of Jerusalem - well worth the listen. I enjoyed it a lot

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Interesting, captivating and informative

Simon Sebag Montefiore's 'Jerusalem: The Biography' tells the story of Jerusalem through the ages, starting from its hidden beginnings to its place in present day Palestine and Israel. Montefiore's writing style keeps the reader interested, while the content captivates you. This city has a story that needs to be heard.

Spanning three millennia Montefiore's treats Jerusalem as a Israelite, Jewish, Pagan Christian, Muslim, Crusader, Mamluk, Ottoman and International City. The material is vast, yet Montefiore is able to weave together a gripping account of the many phases and faces of the holy city through time. It is difficult to keep your mind wrapped around all the facts shared in this book.

There is one thing that did hinder me, and for which I do not have a solution. Due to the vastness of Montefiore's subject matter, while using most of the time the newest insights into the founding of the different faiths, like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, he tends to be uncritical towards some of the sources, especially when using the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible to describe the beginnings of this city. At times he seems to be at the forefront of what secular scholarship says about important characters, while at other times he seems to be completely ignorant and almost parrots the ancient sources like Josephus and even when it suits, the Gospels. This brings a mix-up of perceived fact and that which is actually fiction. One wonders at times what to believe and what not.

That said, I couldn't find any clear preference for a specific group of people that laid claim to Jerusalem over the centuries. His bringing together of a vast array of sources to paint the biography of this spectacular city, helps the listener to see the bigger picture of how the puzzle of politics surrounding the city in various era fit together. His explanation of Herod's role within the Ancient Near East and how he fitted in with Anthony and Augustus is just one example.

I found the later parts of the book (the founding of the State of Israel etc.) more difficult than the earlier parts. What became clear is how complex the issues surrounding Jerusalem has become. The book also challenges your own prejudices and traditional stance towards the holy city.

Andrew Sachs does a superb job in reading this book. He has an easy to listen to voice.

The book comes highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-18

Brilliant. Extremely well narrated

Loved it. Wonderful story telling that goes some way to helping understand the history, and therefore claims made toward, this holy city. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and this is up there with the best of them

4 people found this helpful

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  • lyn K
  • 08-31-20

Dry

Wish I had never bought this book it was dry beyond the usual history.
It may or may not be accurate last time I checked more than 3 firsthand accounts provided something to have happened but apparently not in this not very humble author's opinion.
The only real use for this book is research.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andre Gibson
  • 02-22-22

Superb

A superbly written and performed relatively unbiased history of Jerusalem. Visiting soon for the fifth time, for me it has cast a new light on the city with its almost innumerable tragedies.

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  • Mark Antony Lisle
  • 11-14-21

Interesting history about this hard fought city

Andrew Sachs is a great narrator and he kept the story going, the modern time troubles are explained and the story is balanced and neutral and no one comes off looking good in this tale of bloodshed in a supposedly holy city of God. You get the feeling conflict will continue evermore due to the high cost paid by Jews and Arabs and Christians.

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  • AM
  • 03-22-18

Excellent to gain some understanding.

Would you listen to Jerusalem again? Why?

Yes - over and over - to pick up on some era or some point I may have missed earlier. Love listening to it in background of whatever I'm doing at time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-24-20

A must listen if you're Jew, Christian or Muslim.

I wish I would've listened or read this book before traveling to Israel and Jordan.

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  • Hermien Bouman
  • 01-26-18

Fascinating history

Fascinating history of Jerusalem. I look forward to reading the unabridged edition some time soon.

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  • Rodney Wetherell
  • 09-09-17

Gripping story of a famous city

Would you listen to Jerusalem again? Why?

Yes - Montefiore describes so many intrigues and atrocities, I really need to read it again to get more of it straight in my head. But before I read this book again, I need to read some Jane Austen or PG Wodehouse to recover.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Jerusalem?

I found the story of the Crusades particularly interesting, though also horrifying for the way both sides gloried in the grisly deaths of their opponents.

Which character – as performed by Andrew Sachs – was your favourite?

He didn't exactly perform characters - this is history.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me feel quite sick at several points. If I were a cryer I'm sure I would have cried.

Any additional comments?

I am again highly impressed by Montefiore's grasp of history and his narrative skill.