Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea [NOOK Book]


When the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 CE, Josephus, a Jerusalem aristocrat, was made a general in his nation’s army. Captured by the Romans, he saved his skin by finding favor with the emperor Vespasian. He then served as an adviser to the Roman legions, running a network of spies inside Jerusalem, in the belief that the Jews’ only hope of survival lay in surrender to Rome.

As a Jewish eyewitness who was given access to Vespasian’s campaign notebooks, Josephus is our only ...

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

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When the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 CE, Josephus, a Jerusalem aristocrat, was made a general in his nation’s army. Captured by the Romans, he saved his skin by finding favor with the emperor Vespasian. He then served as an adviser to the Roman legions, running a network of spies inside Jerusalem, in the belief that the Jews’ only hope of survival lay in surrender to Rome.

As a Jewish eyewitness who was given access to Vespasian’s campaign notebooks, Josephus is our only source of information for the war of extermination that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the amazing times in which he lived. He is of vital importance for anyone interested in the Middle East, Jewish history, and the early history of Christianity.

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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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786746415
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 410,993
  • File size: 666 KB

Meet the Author

Desmond Seward is the author of many books, including The Monks of War, The Hundred Years War, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He lives in London.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface: "Masada Shall Not Fall Again" xiii

Introduction: The Land Where Josephus Was Born 1

1 A Young Nobleman 9

2 An Occupied Country 19

3 Rome and Poppaea 29

4 The Jew Baiter 41

5 War 48

6 Governor of Galilee 58

7 The Return of the Legions 77

8 The Siege of Jotapata 83

9 The Cave and the Prophecy 93

10 Josephus the Prisoner 102

11 John of Gischala Comes to Jerusalem 114

12 The Zealot Revolution 123

13 The Reconquest of Judea 130

14 Simon bar Giora 137

15 The Year of the Four Emperors 145

16 Titus Takes Command 155

17 The Siege Begins 168

18 Inside Jerusalem 185

19 The Wooden Wall 194

20 The Destruction of the Temple 208

21 A Holocaust 223

22 The Propagandist 241

23 Masada and the Last Zealots 247

24 A Roman Citizen 260

25 History's Verdict 272

Notes 277

Select Bibliography 293

Index 301

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This is the book you've been looking for

    I can't say enough good things about this book. It explains Josephus's The Jewish War for non-specialists with a gripping, thrilling narrative that fills in all the background details you want to know. It is a delight to read. Best of all, you don't have to be an expert to understand it. Perfect for anyone interested in religion or history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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