Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea

Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea

by Desmond Seward

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From a leading historian, the life and works of Josephus in first-century Jerusalem, during the war against Rome, the siege of Masada, and early ChristianitySee more details below


From a leading historian, the life and works of Josephus in first-century Jerusalem, during the war against Rome, the siege of Masada, and early Christianity

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Seward (Monks of War) attempts to provide a lively and descriptive summary of Josephus's life and works. He succeeds in this aim by condensing the copious details of Josephus's Vita and The Jewish War into a readable synopsis for generally educated readers. However, Seward sacrifices any significant discussion of historical background or critical analysis for the sake of readability. A few small historical inaccuracies are also present in this work, and there is only a brief deliberation on the massacre at Masada. Nevertheless, this text would be appropriate for most general readers. Students and advanced readers in search of a one-volume critical treatment of Josephus would benefit further from Flavius Josephus & Flavian Rome, edited by Jonathan Edmondson and others, or Steve Mason's Josephus, Judea, and Christian Origins.
—Dann Wigner

From the Publisher
Booklist, 5/15/09
“A very dynamic narrative pitched to general readers…[who] discover through Seward’s apt interrogation how valuable a resource Josephus is for scholars…Considering the symbolism this particular was acquired for the subsequent Jewish story. Seward’s astute interpretation and vivid re-creation is a popular-history imperative.”

Library Journal, 5/1/09
“A lively and descriptive summary of Josephus's life and works…A readable synopsis for generally educated readers…This text would be appropriate for most general readers.”

Jewish Herald-Voice, 5/14/09
“[Seward] is quite good at handling secondary sources and writing for nonspecialists.”

Washington Jewish Week, 6/4/09
“This book was written for non-historians interested in this important period of Jewish history. For them, it is highly recommended.”

Jewish Star, 6/12/09
“This book is a good resource for getting to know this important aspect of a sad era in our history.”

Jewish Journal, July 2009
“[A] gripping biography.”

“Offers an introduction to the life and times of the first-century author of The Jewish War…[A] gripping biography…[A] vivid account.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 7/29/09
“Provides a thorough examination of the life of Josephus…A fascinating story, a social and cultural history lesson, and a portrait of an important figure.”

The Advocate(TN), 7/11/09
“Seward tells the unvarnished truth…This is first rate history, first rate biography.”

Milwaukee Shepherd-Express, 8/7/09
“Desmond Seward's study of Josephus…is interesting less for what it says about this murky figure than for its vivid sketch of Palestine at a crucial time.”

Collected Miscellany, 8/12/09
“A compelling story of the life of Josephus as it relates to the first century history of Judea and the Roman Empire…Seward brings an objective eye to his analysis of Josephus…Seward easily discerns Josephus’ biases and the biases of his critics…The book is a quick read because of Seward’s easy-to-read writing style.”

History in Review, 9/1 “Writing with the flare of a novelist, Seward not only brings Josephus to life, but also crafts a vivid picture of what caused the Jewish Revolt of 66, the Roman response, and the ongoing conflict which was to influence Jewish history and culture for generations to follow…An insightful biography… Through Josephus, Seward has provided us with a window through which to view the events of this period and their long term consequence…Popular history at its best. Seward tells a rousing tale, one that is well researched and insightful, yet without any of the pedantic word play that often turns readers away from history books.”

Journal of Military History, October 2009
“Seward has reached his goal to produce a highly readable narrative.”

Baltimore Jewish Times, 12/18/09
“This book has an eye for dramatic scenes.”

Biblical Archaeology Review, June 2010
“In assessing the Jewish revolt against the Romans that ended with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, history must have a vote. Seward is well aware of this and is even-handed in his treatment.”

Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter2010
“A readable account for the general public.”

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Da Capo Press
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