This wonderful book covers the history of Jerusalem from 4000 BCE until today. The authors, all French historians, set themselves a seemingly simple but, in fact, quite complicated goal: to write a history of Jerusalem as objectively as possible without digressions and without being limited by any particular belief, religious or cultural baggage, or political outlook. This is a challenging goal when it comes to a city such as Jerusalem, brimming as it is with old and new beliefs, national and personal hopes and aspirations, as well as political and religious sensitivities.
The authors pass this challenge with flying colors by presenting the history of Jerusalem while utilizing modern research findings and including references to relevant literature. The descriptions are vivid, clear, and easily understood. They make use of manuscripts, archaeological findings, topographical analysis, among other sources. On issues debated by academics, the authors present the various opinions in a clear, concise manner, so as not to affect the flow and the wider context of each chapter.
The significance of the historical description presented in this book, as well as its religious, spiritual, cultural, and political implications, are presented in a subtle and respectful manner. They are not ignored, but no attempt is made to adopt a particular stance or to justify one side or the other.
The book's only flaw, perhaps, is its hybrid style, which may stand in the way of those who wish to read it without the references and academic controversies, or researchers who may be looking for a purer and more detailed academic presentation.
The authors evince a deep respect for the facts, different academic views, and various beliefs and narratives regarding Jerusalem. This is the book for anyone who loves Jerusalem and has an interest in its history—and does not fear footnotes and references.