The problem with devoting an entire book to a single event on a single day -- in this instance, the burning of the Temple on...

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WHEN JERUSALEM BURNED

The problem with devoting an entire book to a single event on a single day -- in this instance, the burning of the Temple on August 29, 70 A.D. -- is that the author must have at his fingertips an enormous quantity of critically acceptable documentary evidence. Such is not the case with the Temple conflagration. There is Josephus, and a half dozen contemporary Roman historians, and a few passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Beyond that, there is only imagination upon which to fall back. Given these substantial limitations, Israel and Lebar have done at least a credible job of telling the story of that fateful day -- history, of a kind. History fleshed out by could-have-beens and what-ifs too often disguised as fact; history, that is, ""for the masses"" -- if one accepts that the masses have no right to reality. It does not help much that the translator chose to emulate the authors' wholly Gallic practice of using eight adjectives when one or none would have done just as well, or to reproduce such ambiguities as ""it was a carved vase with a pigeon on it."" A book for only the most indulgent Jerusalem buff.

Pub Date: June 19, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1973