Book Review: Jerusalem – The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The road to this book started almost six months ago. I was not into reading about middle-eastern history. I had very little interest in the history of Abrahamic religions, hence I ending up with this monstrous 540 page book (excluding the notes and references section) on Jerusalem was unlikely. I was recommended this book by an uncle with whom I was sharing some interesting articles about middle-eastern culture over email.

The book really is exactly what it calls itself – a biography. It starts with the obvious sketchy details of the city’s origins in the world of David, Solomon, Judah and it’s subsequent insignificance in the Persian and later Macedonian scheme of things. The city gains some importance as the Romans arrive. The city though of not much economical significance is central to Judaism. It obviously attracts a lot of religious prophets, mystics and messiahs. One of them being Jesus Christ, whose teachings finally led to Christianity.

It proceeds very adeptly about the rise of Islam, the crusades, the mamluks, Ottomans. Jerusalem is truly written on an epic scale with characters like the Herods, Saladin, Baldwin the leper-King, Richard, the magnificent Suleiman, Napoleon Bonaparte and many more whose choices and their impact end up shaping the city’s fortunes and misfortunes.

It ends with the recent past of the city and its complexities thanks to the politics of religion and the region.

Thankfully, Montefiore does not dramatise the storytelling and keeps it simple. Despite covering almost 3000 years in a single book, he manages to do justice to the various events and their back stories.

If you are interested in the history of the region, then this one would be a good addition to your book collection. Afterall reading about myths, mystics, messiahs, prophets and emperors is usually a lot of fun.

Amazon: Jerusalem – The Biography

Flipkart: Jerusalem: The Biography

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: