A kaleidoscopic history of the thrice-holy city, written from the inside by Idinopulos (Religion/Miami Univ.; The Erosion of Faith, 1971). One of the best features of Idinopulos's account is the breadth of his perspective: He has provided, in effect, three histories in one volume, relating (in separate sections) the disparate experiences and expectations brought to Jerusalem by the three great religions that at various times have claimed—and still claim—the city as their own. Thus, the zeal of Jewish nationalism, rooted in David's ill-fated attempt to establish a Jewish kingdom, is contrasted with both the Christian ambivalence toward the place that witnessed Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, and the doomed pragmatism of Islam, which sought unsuccessfully to amalgamate Judaism and Christianity into a new monotheism of its own devising. The sorry spectacle of the Crusades, jihads, and persecutions that have marred Jerusalem's history throughout the ages is related without prejudice or apology for any party, and the final section of the book, which unfolds the history of modern Zionism and the Intifada, provides fresh perspectives on a crisis that, to many observers, shows no hopeful signs of resolution. One might question Idinopulos's overreliance on a small number of historians whom he quotes authoritatively throughout the book, but this is balanced somewhat by an ample bibliography and generous annotations. The illustrations and maps are carefully chosen and helpful. A splendidly told tale, which succeeds against great odds in providing a clear, balanced, and lively history of one of the most complicated cities in the world.
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