Jewish Book Week in London

Beginning next Saturday, February 26th and lasting for 9 days, the JBW2011 has a sparkling programme. There are two talks that I would love to attend:

Jerusalem, the Biography, by Simon Sebag Montefiore (the great-great nephew of the founder of modern Jerusalem), giving a taster of his new book.

Blackwell’s review of the book reads as follows:

Jerusalem lies at the centre of the world, the capital of three faiths, the prize of many conquerors, the jewel of many empires, and the eye of the storm of today’s battle of civilisations.

But the city lacks a biography. It lacks a secret history. Simon Sebag Montefiore’s epic account is seen through kings, conquerors, emperors and soldiers; Muslims, Jews, Christians, Macedonians, Romans and Greeks; Palestinians and Israelis; from King David via Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Herod, Caesar, Cleopatra, Jesus and Saladin, to Churchill, King Hussein, Anwar Sadat and Ariel Sharon. Their individual stories combine to form the biography of a city – a gritty, dramatic, violent tale of power, empire, love, vanity, luxury and death, bringing three thousand years of history vividly to life.

In the course of its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. It has been Arab, Persian, Jewish, Roman, Greek, Babylonian, Turkish, Mameluke, British, Byzantine, Crusader, Ottoman; Napoleon almost took it but marched past, Kaiser William visited, the Allied forces fought for it in the First World War. The extraordinarily rich history of this small city in the Judean hills forms nothing less than a history of the world.

The epic story of Jerusalem told through the lives of the men and women who created, ruled and inhabited it.


• Fifty Year Reflections of a Jewish Historian, by Martin Gilbert

Martin Gilbert

The JBW website describes his much anticipated lecture as follows:

With consummate skill, patience and brilliance in equal measure, Martin Gilbert has recounted most of the major events of the 20th century. His work encompasses both world wars; the definitive set of Churchill biographies; chronicles of the Jewish people; and accounts of their adversaries and saviours. He has also created 12 pioneering historical atlases on everything from Russian history to the Arab-Israel conflict. We are delighted that Martin Gilbert will share with us some of his most historic discoveries over a lifetime of outstanding scholarship, culminating in his latest work: In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews.

The full programme is here

Our youngest son Joel will be filming the event.

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