Masada: The Last Fortress

Overview

In the year 72 C.E., after a four-year war between Rome and Judea, only one fortress remains to be taken: Masada, high above the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. Two years later, the commander of the famous Roman Tenth Legion, Flavius Silva, marches toward Masada to capture or kill the 960 Jewish zealots who hold it. / In this eloquent and powerful novel, we meet 17-year-old Simon ben Eleazar, son of the Jewish leader of Masada. Apprenticed too Masada's only physician, Simon learns to help victims of the enemy's ...
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Overview

In the year 72 C.E., after a four-year war between Rome and Judea, only one fortress remains to be taken: Masada, high above the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. Two years later, the commander of the famous Roman Tenth Legion, Flavius Silva, marches toward Masada to capture or kill the 960 Jewish zealots who hold it. / In this eloquent and powerful novel, we meet 17-year-old Simon ben Eleazar, son of the Jewish leader of Masada. Apprenticed too Masada's only physician, Simon learns to help victims of the enemy's onslaught as he struggles with his love for Deborah, the intended of his best friend, and with the painful decision he must ultimately make.

As the Roman army marches inexorably across the Judean desert towards the fortress of Masada, Simon and his family and friends prepare, along with the rest of the Jewish Zealots, to fight and never surrender.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for The Children's Books
Readers get deeply involved in the paradoxical suspense of doomed characters who nourish their lives—including romance, marriage, friendship, and ambition—in the face of death. . . .History is sometimes simply sad, and Miklowitz has asserted that sadness without sensationalizing it or apologizing for it.
Publishers Weekly
Simon lives his final days with hope and trust in the faithfulness of God, and readers may well be inspired by his example to live their own lives with purpose in the face of all obstacles.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 73 C.E., Simon ben Eleazar, 17-year-old son of the leader of a group of Jewish refugees inside the fortress Masada, sits with his friends, John and Deborah, contemplating his future. Will he marry Deborah and follow his dream of becoming a doctor? After three years of living in the seclusion of Masada, Simon almost believes his dreams might come true. But he and his friends have not forgotten the horror of the Roman backlash in Jerusalem and the deaths of their family and friends. Soon, the Romans descend upon them with an army garrison numbering over 20,000 soldiers, Jewish slaves and mercenaries to take Masada from the 1000 Jews occupying it. Although the Jews devise ingenious defense plans to hold off the invaders, after seven months the Romans break into the fortress and discover that Simon and the others have all committed suicide. In Miklowitz's (Camouflage) novel, readers will glimpse Simon's struggles and joys and the fall of Masada as he records the daily events of the last year of his life. Simon lives his final days with hope and trust in the faithfulness of God, and readers may well be inspired by his example to live their own lives with purpose in the face of all obstacles. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Masada was the fortress defended by Jews against the Romans, famous for the mass suicide of the defenders when their defeat was certain. Here, in the form of journals, is the story told by a young Jew-and a Roman soldier, Flavius Silva, commander of the regiment that will destroy the Jews. The story is told beautifully from both points of view. On one hand, we're shown the tragedy as a sort of coming-of-age tale, with conflict with parents and friends, love, and terrible loss. On the other hand is Flavius' dislike of his commander, his feelings about the siege, and his duty as a loyal Roman. Historically it's accurate, including the betrayal of the Jews by Josephus and his rewriting of history.
VOYA - Kevin S. Beach
Successful YA author Miklowitz shifts gears in this fictionalized account of the Jews' standoff against the Roman army atop a mountain fortress in 73 A.D., cleverly told through two participants' journal entries. Simon, son of the Zealots' leader, wants to become a great physician. He details how Masada's one thousand inhabitants attempt to live normal lives as they await the inevitable arrival of Roman troops. The second journal's author is Roman commander Flavius Silva, who describes leading twenty thousand soldiers and Hebrew slaves across the barren desert to capture the rebels. Tensions mount on both sides as the Romans slowly gain a foothold on the mountainside. Simon relates the new routine and daily exposure to the horrors of war; ironically happy as he learns how to treat the wounded, he also proves to be a good warrior. Simon's friends and family are well developed as are the Roman leaders, highlighting the good and the bad on both sides. The Jews of Masada committed mass suicide rather than surrender, and this makes the hopes expressed by the characters more poignant; the reader wants Simon to find a way out. Flavius is a firm yet somewhat compassionate leader, puzzled by the Jews' resolve to fight to the death. His final entry describes the Romans, after months of frustration, breaking through the fortress' walls to make their grim discovery. Recommended for historical fiction lovers, this story has obviously been thoroughly researched. The events leading up to the Jewish revolt and the Roman rule in Palestine are explained by the characters, making the Zealots' determination to remain unconquered understandable. Although the dialogue is somewhat stilted, it suggests the flavor of a Biblical epic. Told mostly from the rebels' point of view, this is an exciting story in which everyday people must make some horrible wartime decisions. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802851680
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 8/13/1999
  • Pages: 198
  • Sales rank: 845,182
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Gloria Miklowitz, a graduate of the University of Michigan, is the author of more than 60 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. Her books have won national and international awards and deal with important issues such as nuclear war, racial injustice, steroid abuse, date violence and most recently militia involvement. Three of her novels were made into award-winning television specials, including one which won the Emmy for "Best Children's Special" in 1986 (The War Between the Classes). A frequent speaker at schools, Gloria has also taken part in conferences in the United States, South Africa and Sweden. Gloria currently lives in La Canada, California.
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