LESLEY HAZLETON is the author of three acclaimed books about the Middle East Israeli Women, Where Mountains Roar, and Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Her most recent book is Mary- A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother. A former psychologist, she reported from Israel for Time magazine, and has written on Middle Eastern politics for The New York Times, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and other publications. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
Like other villains of the Bible, Jezebel, it turns out, may have been gravely mischaracterized throughout history. Unlike Judas, of whom there are alternative, rehabilitative stories, the only historical account of Jezebel's life exists in the Books of Kings. What Hazleton argues, however, is that this account is self-subverting and has been misconstrued throughout history. Interlacing fictional narrative with engaging commentary, Hazleton points out that Jezebel was never sexually promiscuous or even accused of being so; the word "harlot" only ever referred to her unfaithfulness to Yahweh. And while Elijah is a universally loved biblical figure (Hazleton gives examples of Jewish, Christian and Muslim reverence for him), her reading of Kings reveals him to be the worst sort of fundamentalist-the kind who thinks that all who oppose the true faith should be killed. Hazleton draws from a deep, impressive well of scholarship and includes a fascinating travelogue of her journeys to the places described in Kings. In addition, she provides her own rich, nuanced translation and uses it to highlight the wordplay in which the biblical authors frequently engage. Replete with apt comparisons to modern Middle Eastern conflicts, this revisionist portrait is equal parts fun and sobering-a colorful history lesson that's sorely needed. (Oct. 16) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Hazleton's journalistic experience led her to develop a lively and engaging prose style, which provides an only surreptitiously dense serving of information and reflection. Her treatment of Jezebel is similar to her take on Jesus's mother in Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother. Alternating among modes of history, historical imagination, and cultural studies, this book unfolds not only stories of its title character but also, more interestingly, stories of the stories about the "harlot queen" that detail and speculate on the influences, prejudices, and politics that have impacted their telling throughout the centuries. Several offerings in recent years have sought to revise the popular image of this foreign-born queen by marriage of ancient Israel, but this is certainly the most entertaining. Suitable for public library patrons; academic collections will prefer Janet Howe Gaines's Music in the Old Bones: Jezebel Through the Ages.-Darby Orcutt, North Carolina State Univ. Libs., Raleigh Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Advance Praise for Jezebel: -This riveting biography breaks through all our preconceptions about Jezebel. In Hazleton's hands, the real story of the 'harlot queen' is a vivid and magnificent drama with direct relevance to our own time. You'll never read the Hebrew bible the same way again.---Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth and Misconceptions -I read Jezebel in a single enthralled sitting. In her wonderfully spirited retelling of the Books of Kings, Lesley Hazleton makes Jezebel our contemporary, and turns the ninth century B.C. into a prophetic mirror of our twenty-first-century religiopolitical wars. In a feat of nonfiction magical realism, she brilliantly collapses the worlds of now and then into one realm, where Jezebel and Elijah effortlessly rub shoulders with Ehud Olmert and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. The book is endlessly informative (and Hazleton's knowledge of Hebrew serves her well here); it is also great fun.---Jonathan Raban, author of Surveillance -This riveting book tells the story of the real-life, flesh-and-blood-and-brain female whose name has been, for the last three thousand years, shorthand for Bad Girl. Was Jezebel really 'bad'? Or was she, like so many forward-thinking women after her, simply feared as a foreigner, reviled as an infidel, destroyed as a deviant? Read this book and find out.---Rebecca Brown, author of The Gifts of the Body -Lesley Hazleton is a terrific, charismatic writer, and this book is an eloquent, smart, and thought-provoking reinterpretation of the biblical tale of Jezebel.---Neil Asher Silberman, author of David and Solomon Praise for Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother: -Thoughtful, evocative, and eminently readable...Dazzling to read and weighty to ponder.---Booklist-Readers who loved the phenomenally popular fictional chronicle of Jacob's daughter Dina in Anita Diamant's The Red Tent will find this book about Mary, the mother of Jesus, just as enthralling....She also knows how to write a page-turner.---Publishers Weekly -Weaves historical facts with empathy and imagination to construct a plausible, visceral version of this celebrated woman.---Los Angeles Times Book Review