Jerusalem: The Biography

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Jerusalem: The Biography
First edition
AuthorSimon Sebag Montefiore
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectHistory of Jerusalem
PublisherWeidenfeld & Nicolson
Publication date
27 January 2011
Media typeHardcover, Paperback, audiobook, E-Book at Google Books
LC Class2011-020827
Preceded byYoung Stalin (LA Times Book Prize, Costa Book Awards

Jerusalem: The Biography is a 2011 bestselling[1][2] non-fiction book by British popular historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore.


Author Montefiore's presentation of his book in Stockholm, 21 September 2011

Drawing on new archives, current scholarship, his own family papers and a lifetime's study, Montefiore illustrates the essence of sanctity and mysticism, identity and empire in a historical chronicle of the city of Jerusalem.[3]

Montefiore chose to organize Jerusalem chronologically, stretching it from King David's establishment of the city as his capital (the Proto-Canaanite and Canaanite-Egyptian periods are briefly mentioned) to the 1967 Six-Day War, with an epilogue pondering on more recent events. In the introduction, the author explains that "it is only by chronological narrative that one avoids the temptation to see the past through the obsessions of the present."[4]

The author narrates the history of Jerusalem as the centre of world history, but does not intend the book as an encyclopaedia of every aspect of this ancient city, nor as a guidebook of every niche, capital and archway in every building. At the beginning of his book, Montefiore clearly explains that neither does he intend to provide a history of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, nor a study of the nature of God in Jerusalem: for these he remands elsewhere, to a plethora of other publications.[5] His task, Montefiore affirms, is to pursue the facts, not to adjudicate between the mysteries of different religions or the secular reasons behind historical events: Jerusalem is a synthesis based on a wide reading of the primary sources, ancient and modern, on personal seminars with specialists, professors, archaeologists, families and statesmen, and on the author's multiple visits to Jerusalem, the shrines and archaeological digs.[6]

In December 2011, Simon Sebag Montefiore presented on BBC Four a three-part history of Jerusalem, based on his book and by the title Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rosen, Jonathan (28 October 2011). "Caliphs, Crusaders, and the Bloody History of Jerusalem". The New York Times. New York.
  2. ^ Cf. also IDB Cultural Center, Presentation at the Enrique V. Iglesias Auditorium, Washington, DC, 25 October 2012.
  3. ^ Cf. Author's Website Archived 29 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Jerusalem section.
  4. ^ Cf. Introduction, p. xxv.
  5. ^ For a bibliographical list, see Sources and notes for the book Archived 5 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Cf. Introduction, pp.xix-xxvi.
  7. ^ Cf. BBC Four Schedule, Dec. 2011 and clips on the series.
  8. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 20 January 2020.

External links[edit]