Jerusalem: City of Longing

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Overview

Jerusalem is the site of some of the most famous religious monuments in the world, from the Dome of the Rock to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Western Wall of the Temple. Since the nineteenth century, the city has been a premier tourist destination, not least because of the countless religious pilgrims from the three Abrahamic faiths.

But Jerusalem is more than a tourist site—it is a city where every square mile is layered with historical significance, religious intensity, and extraordinary stories. It is a city rebuilt by each ruling Empire in its own way: the Jews, the Romans, the Christians, the Muslims, and for the past sixty years, the modern Israelis. What makes Jerusalem so unique is the heady mix, in one place, of centuries of passion and scandal, kingdom-threatening wars and petty squabbles, architectural magnificence and bizarre relics, spiritual longing and political cruelty. It is a history marked by three great forces: religion, war, and monumentality.

In this book, Simon Goldhill takes on this peculiar archaeology of human imagination, hope, and disaster to provide a tour through the history of this most image-filled and ideology-laden city—from the bedrock of the Old City to the towering roofs of the Holy Sepulchre. Along the way, we discover through layers of buried and exposed memories—the long history, the forgotten stories, and the lesser-known aspects of contemporary politics that continue to make Jerusalem one of the most embattled cities in the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education Supplement

Goldhill takes the reader on a tour of recent digs in Jerusalem, visits important buildings, provides fresh readings of texts and discusses competing theories with consummate learning and expository skill...Jerusalem: City of Longing is chock-a-block with entertaining anecdotes—many, alas, tall tales—about this most solemn of cities...The chief merits of this book, which should attract a broad readership, are the zestful vivacity with which Goldhill explores Jerusalem's ancient ruins and texts and the mixture of scholarship that he...injects into his discussion of the unholy history of the holy city.
— Bernard Wasserstein

Jewish Chronicle

[A] pleasing archaeological history of Israel's capital city. Jerusalem: City of Longing is a meticulously researched study of how the city came to be built and rebuilt by successive faith communities and conquerors...The maps are uncluttered, the photographs breathtaking. Not the least virtue of Goldhill's volume is its remarkably balanced account of the Mandate, and of how Jerusalem came to be divided, and then reunited once more.
— Geoffrey Alderman

Montreal Gazette

In Jerusalem: City of Longing, [Goldhill] serves up a playful pastiche of a book, peppered with enchanting anecdotes, that places Jerusalem at the world's centre...The history of a city is more about interruptions, contests and heart-wrenching agonies. This is the kind of history Goldhill presents, and it is the main reason his book distinguishes itself among the many others on Jerusalem...A valuable guide for visitors, current residents and even for people who can only dream of ever visiting.
— Kornel Zathureczky

Jerusalem Post

Why a new book on Jerusalem? No one will raise that question after reading this magnificent history and guide...[Goldhill‘s] extensive knowledge about Jerusalem make[s] this book a joy to read and re-read.
— Morton I. Teicher

Choice

Part history, part archaeology, part travel guide to Jerusalem's holy sites and public buildings, this is an indispensable and enjoyable book for anyone interested in understanding the crucial role the city has played in the history of the three major monotheistic religions...Writing with humor and an eye for detail, Goldhill also exposes the myths behind claims made by the various religious denominations who have staked out the different sections of Jerusalem.
— J. Fischel

Sari Nusseibeh
Simon Goldhill has written an elegant and evocative multi-religious history of Jerusalem. Rock by rock, myth by myth, the book guides the reader through an exhilarating visit to the city, exposing its magnetism and fragility, its light and darkness.
Neil Asher Silberman
A fascinating journey through Jerusalem's most memorable places—and among its most colorful personalities, and epoch-making events. Simon Goldhill is a master historian and expert guide who reveals much that is unexpected about this revered, fought-over, and often misunderstood city. Engaging in tone, superbly written, and admirably even-handed, this book offers a compelling new portrait of the many souls of Jerusalem.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Bernard Wasserstein
Goldhill takes the reader on a tour of recent digs in Jerusalem, visits important buildings, provides fresh readings of texts and discusses competing theories with consummate learning and expository skill...Jerusalem: City of Longing is chock-a-block with entertaining anecdotes--many, alas, tall tales--about this most solemn of cities...The chief merits of this book, which should attract a broad readership, are the zestful vivacity with which Goldhill explores Jerusalem's ancient ruins and texts and the mixture of scholarship that he...injects into his discussion of the unholy history of the holy city.
Jewish Chronicle - Geoffrey Alderman
[A] pleasing archaeological history of Israel's capital city. Jerusalem: City of Longing is a meticulously researched study of how the city came to be built and rebuilt by successive faith communities and conquerors...The maps are uncluttered, the photographs breathtaking. Not the least virtue of Goldhill's volume is its remarkably balanced account of the Mandate, and of how Jerusalem came to be divided, and then reunited once more.
Montreal Gazette - Kornel Zathureczky
In Jerusalem: City of Longing, [Goldhill] serves up a playful pastiche of a book, peppered with enchanting anecdotes, that places Jerusalem at the world's centre...The history of a city is more about interruptions, contests and heart-wrenching agonies. This is the kind of history Goldhill presents, and it is the main reason his book distinguishes itself among the many others on Jerusalem...A valuable guide for visitors, current residents and even for people who can only dream of ever visiting.
Jerusalem Post - Morton I. Teicher
Why a new book on Jerusalem? No one will raise that question after reading this magnificent history and guide...[Goldhill‘s] extensive knowledge about Jerusalem make[s] this book a joy to read and re-read.
Choice - J. Fischel
Part history, part archaeology, part travel guide to Jerusalem's holy sites and public buildings, this is an indispensable and enjoyable book for anyone interested in understanding the crucial role the city has played in the history of the three major monotheistic religions...Writing with humor and an eye for detail, Goldhill also exposes the myths behind claims made by the various religious denominations who have staked out the different sections of Jerusalem.
Choice
Part history, part archaeology, part travel guide to Jerusalem's holy sites and public buildings, this is an indispensable and enjoyable book for anyone interested in understanding the crucial role the city has played in the history of the three major monotheistic religions...Writing with humor and an eye for detail, Goldhill also exposes the myths behind claims made by the various religious denominations who have staked out the different sections of Jerusalem.
— J. Fischel
Jerusalem Post
Why a new book on Jerusalem? No one will raise that question after reading this magnificent history and guide...[Goldhill‘s] extensive knowledge about Jerusalem make[s] this book a joy to read and re-read.
— Morton I. Teicher
Jewish Chronicle
[A] pleasing archaeological history of Israel's capital city. Jerusalem: City of Longing is a meticulously researched study of how the city came to be built and rebuilt by successive faith communities and conquerors...The maps are uncluttered, the photographs breathtaking. Not the least virtue of Goldhill's volume is its remarkably balanced account of the Mandate, and of how Jerusalem came to be divided, and then reunited once more.
— Geoffrey Alderman
Montreal Gazette
In Jerusalem: City of Longing, [Goldhill] serves up a playful pastiche of a book, peppered with enchanting anecdotes, that places Jerusalem at the world's centre...The history of a city is more about interruptions, contests and heart-wrenching agonies. This is the kind of history Goldhill presents, and it is the main reason his book distinguishes itself among the many others on Jerusalem...A valuable guide for visitors, current residents and even for people who can only dream of ever visiting.
— Kornel Zathureczky
Times Higher Education Supplement
Goldhill takes the reader on a tour of recent digs in Jerusalem, visits important buildings, provides fresh readings of texts and discusses competing theories with consummate learning and expository skill...Jerusalem: City of Longing is chock-a-block with entertaining anecdotes--many, alas, tall tales--about this most solemn of cities...The chief merits of this book, which should attract a broad readership, are the zestful vivacity with which Goldhill explores Jerusalem's ancient ruins and texts and the mixture of scholarship that he...injects into his discussion of the unholy history of the holy city.
— Bernard Wasserstein
Publishers Weekly

Goldhill, professor of Greek at Cambridge (The Temple of Jerusalem), provides an illuminating archeological, architectural and historical guide to Jerusalem's most important holy and secular sites from biblical times to the present. He loves the city, but doesn't romanticize either its past or its present, and a theme throughout is that the "city of peace" has always been a place of contention. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all vie for supremacy in the city, but many claims to authenticity are false, says Goldhill. He debunks, for example, Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar's claim to have discovered King David's palace. Ironies abound in a city where the Abrahamic faiths are not only embattled but also intermingled; the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has long been held by a Muslim family. As Goldhill explores Jerusalem during the Victorian period, which he claims laid the groundwork for much of the modern city, the impact of British mandatory rule, and the city today, he faces head-on the difficulty of telling the history of a place where every fact is contested by conflicting nationalist narratives. This is a highly knowledgeable and beautifully written look at both the "heavenly" and the "earthly" Jerusalem. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Goldhill (Greek literature & culture, Univ. of Cambridge) fulfills his promise to create "not just another history of Jerusalem." In fact, he offers several books under a single title. First, he chronicles the physical detail that gives meaning to the archaeology of the Temple Mount, the architecture of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the grand setting of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Second, he gives us a Jerusalem of personalities, such as the Spaffords, late 19th-century humanitarians whose "American Colony" hosted Jacob Eliahu, the discoverer of the eight-century B.C.E. water tunnel carved by Israelite Kin Hezekiah, and the British World War I General Allenby, whose 1917 entry into Jerusalem was briefly frustrated by the absence of someone to surrender the city legitimately. Finally, Goldhill depicts a city that has transcended the often violent claims and controversies of its historical figures, revealing the many forgotten people who seek daily accommodation within its walls. Indirectly, as "more than another history," this work helps to explain how religious faith has brought layers of different civilizations to a very special place. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.
—Zachary T. Irwin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674034686
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 989,718
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Goldhill is Professor of Greek Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge.
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Table of Contents

  • Preface

  1. The Center of the Christian World
  2. The Center of Jewish Jerusalem
  3. The Center of Muslim Jerusalem
  4. The Old City
  5. The Oldest City
  6. The Victorian City
  7. The Modern City

  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 12, 2010

    Very interesting, insightful

    We recently visited Jerusalem, and would like to have read this before we were there. Gives a lot of insight into this very interesting, historical city.

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    Posted August 21, 2010

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    Posted January 12, 2010

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