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""Gilbert is a first-rate storyteller."" —The Wall Street Journal
""Fascinating and admirably readable . . . unmatched for sheer breadth of acutely observed historical detail."" —Christopher Walker, The Times (London)
""Most noteworthy for its richness of letters, journals and anecdotes . . . the major events of this century come alive in eyewitness accounts."" —The New York Times Book Review
""Extraordinarily vivid glimpses of Jerusalem life."" —Atlanta Journal Constitution
Noted historian Gilbert (The First World War, 1994; The Day the War Ended, 1995) continues to establish himself as a thorough researcher with an eye for detail, irony, and symbolic moments. He follows the saga of Jerusalem from the turn of the century, when the city is an Ottoman backwater, filthy and neglected. Even this early, and with a Muslim occupier, there is a palpable hostility to the city's Jews and Christians on the part of the area's Muslim Arabs. Though Jews were in the majority even then, the Mufti's agents made Jerusalem's non-Muslims pay for access to their holy places. Readers are allowed to weigh current calls to internationalize, share, or divide this contested city with a century's perspective. Among the recurring patterns are the killing of Arab "collaborators" by Arab nationalists (1,000 between 1936 and '39) and the assassination of peacemakers (Jordan's King Abdullah) well before Sadat and Rabin. Other surprises include the fact that most of terrorist bombs set in Jewish West Jerusalem were rigged by British army deserters bribed by the Mufti, and that uniformed Syrian soldiers were counted among the civilian casualties in the massacre by Israelis of Arabs at Deir Yassin. Gilbert doesn't spare us the heart-wrenching details of an Arab bride-to-be blown up by Jewish terrorists or a Jewish Quarter mother felled by a sniper while hanging laundry. No strong bias mars the book, but most of the documentation, from texts to newspapers and journals, is from Jewish sources. Further, the plight of Jerusalem's Christian Arabs and Armenians could have received more attention.
Gilbert has risen to the complex challenge of his earthly/heavenly subject, offering us, in this compelling history, both a Dung Gate and a Lions' Gate with which to enter this timeless city on its 3,000th anniversary.
The British Conquest, December 1917.
British Military Rule, 1918-1919.
In Search of Equilibrium, 1920-1921.
The First Six Years of the British Mandate, 1922-1929.
The Riots of 1929.
The Search for Normality, 1930-1936.
The Riots of 1936 and Their Aftermath.
The Second World War, 1939-1945.
A City in Turmoil, 1945-1947.
The Last Four and a Half Months of British Rule, January-May 1948.
Two Weeks of War, 14-29 May 1948.
Truce, Violence, Armistice and Renewal, June 1948 to December 1949.
A Tale of Two Cities, 1950-1967.
The Six-Day War, June 1967.
Reunification: The First Two Years, 1967-1969.
The Search for Harmony, 1970-1980.
From Annexation to Intifada, 1980-1989.
Towards the Twenty-First Century: Struggle, Uncertainty and Hope.
Posted September 18, 2003
This book presents a history of the Jewish side of Jerusalem in the 20th century. Concerning the era prior to the creation of Israel, the book thoroughly discusses Jewish immigration and residence in Jerusalem and the conflicts surrounding the Jewish holy places. The creation of Israel and accompanying division of the city are also discussed, along with its occupation after Israel¿s 1967 invasion. All these topics are covered from a Jewish/Israeli perspective. In the same vein, the book accentuates the Jewish ¿contributions¿ to the city after 1967, without a fair examination of the problems this Israeli occupation created for the Arab inhabitants. Jerusalem is a city that has a 4000-year history, is important for three major religions, and is inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Despite this, very little is presented about the Arab inhabitants of the city (who since 1850 numbered roughly half the population) except as the ¿other¿ or the ¿bad guys¿. This simplistic and biased attitude of the book makes it considerably less useful in understanding the real history of the city.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 1, 2003
This is another meticulous study by Sir Martin Gilbert, one of the most prominent, knowledgeable and admired experts in the Middle East. Here he provides a remarkable insight into the history of the City of Jerusalem during the 20th Century. The author commences with a description of Jerusalem at the dawn of the 20th Century, as a small provincial town in the Ottoman Empire, comprising of a population totalling some 70,000 people. The majority being Jews (45,000) and the remainder mostly Arabs (25,000). The Century approaching it's end with the City's population being more than half a million, the majority Jewish but with some 25% being Arabs. The book documents Jerusalem under Ottoman rule until their defeat by the British during the First World War. The writer then continues to illustrate the City under British rule through the Mandate period. Appropriate attention being paid to the Arab riots of 1929/36, describing many of the horrific incidents, the role of all the entities involved and the ensuing casualties. Many factors & commendable detail so often overlooked are included here. The author analyses the City during the Second World War and how the latter affected it's occupants. It is clearly shown that the coming of peace to Europe did not bring peace to Jerusalem. Indeed, from 1945-47 the writer describes Jerusalem as a City in turmoil, with the imminent end of British rule and the intended UN partition. A partition which unbelievably intended to leave the Hebrew University and the City's 99,000 Jews (one sixth of the total number of Jews in Palestine) outside of the intended borders of the Jewish state. The author describes this and the resentment that this intended move caused. The ensuing conflict of 1948 is recounted including the siege of Jerusalem and the horrors suffered by the inhabitants. This extends to the 1967 Six Day War with detail also provided of the fighting for the Old City between Israel and Jordanian forces. Indeed, the author omits nothing, extending through the Yom Kippur War on to the Palestinian `intifada' of 1987/89 and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Numerous maps and photographs are provided in abundance. Notably inclusion is a photograph of the often ignored & forgotten bombing by British Army deserters of the civilian thoroughfare in Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street in February 1948, which killed over 50 innocent Jews. (A captured British soldier apparently boasting of his involvement, but complaining that he did not receive the £500 promised him & his colleagues by the Arab Mufti). The carnage and destruction in the Ben Yehuda photograph rarely receives the light of day with most `neutral' sources tending to highlight the attack on the King David Hotel by the Stern gang. Photographs are also included of the devastation inflicted on Jerusalem's synagogues by Jordanian bombing in the 1948 conflict. The writer concludes this excellent work by declaring that Jerusalem can be the `essence of peace' or the `source of conflict'; `the scene of riots' or `of reconciliation'; the `focus of celebration' or `of protest'; of `religious devotion' or `religious hatred'; of `quiet contemplation' or `loud exhortation'. Those who know the City of Jerusalem will know that indeed this City is unique. I highly recommend this book. I also highly recommend a work covering the City's most recent political altercations by David Bar Illan entitled `Jerusalem; The Truth'. Coupled together these two books will provide a thorough grounding in the background to the City. Those with an interest in the City's Biblical history and it's prophetic element will enjoy John Hagee's `The Battle For Jerusalem' which includes a detailed coverage of the Palestinian `intifadas'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.