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Jerusalem
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New or Used: 8 copies from $29.58
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About the Author

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religion, including The Case for God, A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha, and Fields of Blood, as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into 45 languages. In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public, crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It was launched globally in the fall of 2009. Also in 2008, she was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal. In 2013, she received the British Academy's inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding.

Reviews

British religious scholar Armstrong (A History of God) has written a provocative, splendid historical portrait of Jerusalem that will reward those seeking to fathom a strife-torn city. Her overarching theme, that Jerusalem has been central to the experience and "sacred geography" of Jews, Muslims and Christians and thus has led to deadly struggles for dominance, is a familiar one, yet she brings to her sweeping, profusely illustrated narrative a grasp of sociopolitical conditions seldom found in other books. Armstrong spares none of the three monotheisms in her critique of intolerant policies as she ponders the supreme irony that the Holy City, revered by the faithful as symbol and site of harmony and integration, has been a contentious place where the faiths have fought constantly, not only with one another but within themselves, in bitter factions. Her condemnation of Israel's 1967 annexation of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War ("It was impossible for Israelis to see the matter objectively, since at the [Western Wall] they had encountered the Jewish soul"), however, pushes too far her theme of sacred geography as the physical embodiment of motivating myths and legends. (May)

According to Armstrong, Jerusalem is an apolitical history of monotheism in Jerusalem; in fact, it is a well-written, highly skewed, pseudohistorical document. The author's strong pro-Islamic and pro-Arab biases pervade the text. In addition, she presents an anachronistic model of monotheism that is laughable. Where is the evidence for her thesis that universal justice and tolerance were essential attributes of ancient Judaism, early Christianity, or later Islamic expansionism? It seems highly unlikely that cultures characterized (in her own descriptions) by warring tribes, slavery, and female subservience were really concerned with human rights. Then there are the basic historical errors, for example, the blending of religious text materials with independently confirmable facts. Librarians should be particularly careful to consult authoritative reviews before selecting materials in this area. Not recommended.-I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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