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City of gods

The tortuous past of Jerusalem, endlessly fought over by Jews, Christians and Muslims, is brilliantly revealed in Simon Sebag Montefiore’s “biography”

By Bruce Anderson   February 2011

A moment of peace: David and Bathsheba (1562) by Jan Massys offers a tranquil view of a city that has spurred more conflict than any other

Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25)

Jerusalem is an epitome of the human condition: man at his best, and worst. Over three millennia people have believed the city to be the bridge between heaven and earth. But it has usually been a dangerous crossing. Jerusalem has inspired courage, sacrifice and chivalry; art, architecture, and music. It has also sunk into persecution, brutality, butchery, squalor and venereal disease. Just to…

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