JERUSALEM: The Endless Crussade by Andrew Sinclair

JERUSALEM: The Endless Crussade

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A dizzyingly quick and unbalanced overview of the gorier side of 3,000 years of Jerusalem's glory. Sinclair, a colorful, prolific, and idiosyncratic historical writer (not to be confused with ""historian""), appears to be taking off from his The Sword and the Grail (1992). Sinclair's best research and description is reserved for the unwashed Knights Templar, who seem to be curious mixtures of mystic monks and savagely fierce warriors. The other Christian Crusaders through the ages are constant targets of Sinclair's critical eye and are often noted for their rapine, hypocrisy, treachery, and petty infighting. The various Muslim forces in the Levant are generally lauded for being the repositories of true culture and piety, who, when not the dominating force, are the victims of intruding Christian and, later, Israeli colonialists. The British author's weakest areas (curious for a book timed to coincide with the Holy City's trimillennial) involve biblical and theological material. Judaism, for example, is misunderstood as sharing the Christian and Muslim ""cosmic struggle between God and Satan, good and evil"" and ""the concept of an intolerant faith enforced by the sword."" Sinclair's anti-Jewish bias is evident in his description of Israelis committing a ""ghastly reenaction of what the Nazis had done to the Jews."" Other twisted facts about refugees and the Arab-Israeli wars remind us of typical European advocacy-journalism, and mar some otherwise absorbing historical writing that focuses on the ""religious geography"" of the three monotheistic faiths. Drain the book of religio-political bile and you are left with some engaging chapters on the Jerusalem Temple--based architecture, mathematics, and geometry still revered by the Masons and other spiritual descendants of the Templars.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown