Occasionally I break away from reading Game of Thrones and other fiction and I remember how much I actually prefer non-fiction.
I especially like to read non-fiction about topics I once thought I knew something about but, upon reflection, realized I was clueless about:
- the Romans
- the Civil War
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Which brings us to Jerusalem, the subject of a new “biography,” by Simon Sebag Montefiore (Audible).
It’s quite long (25 hours), which is not an impediment as I listen on Audible while driving. And it’s fascinating, though honestly, there are so many reversals and bloody reprisals that it’s hard to keep track. Couple things strike me:
- Jerusalem has been passed about among empires, religious zealots, and greedy local warlords for going on 3 millennia.
- There has been exactly one sharing of power in the city between more than one religious group—in 1264 AD. That’s it. And the German king who entered the agreement was a true wild card who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church on more than one occasion. The precedent for peace is vanishingly slim.
And you wonder why the current antagonists can’t sort out what seems an eminently fixable situation. But it would be bucking a very long tail of history.
I guess, though, if you’re the Israelis and looking at history, you have to be feeling as if time is getting short, no matter how strong your army and how influential your friends. That has rarely mattered very much for very long in this corner of the Mediterranean.