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Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Desmond Seward

Booklist, 5/15/09   “A very dynamic narrative pitched to general readers…[who] discover through Seward’s apt interrogation how valuable a resource Josephus is for scholars…Considering the symbolism this particular … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Desmond Seward
Genre: History
Publisher: Da Capo Press
1 review about Jerusalem's Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and...

Easy to read history

  • Feb 16, 2010
It's difficult to reconstruct the life of a person from 20 centuries ago, when all we have are his own writings, and two or three other sources for the times in which he lived. The author does an admirable job in this well-written book, and the prose flows so easily that at times it's difficult to believe you're reading a history book rather than a novel.

Josephus was a man of contradictions: a more or less devout Jew who became a general in the Jewish uprising against Rome, but then switched sides and worked for the Romans. It appears that he came to the conclusion that resistance to the greatest military power on earth was a useless waste of lives and property, but he
ould not persuade many others to follow his example. The Jewish rebellion ended in tragedy, of course, and the great Second Temple in Jerusalem was razed, so the world has been deprived of being able to study it.

The writings of Josephus are often self-serving, self-centered, boastful, and occasionally contain outright lies. Not too bad for a person writing his own biography. Without Josephus, we would more than likely know nothing about the siege of Masada and its horrible aftermath.

Whatever Josephus really was, patriot or traitor, the world owes him a large debt of gratitude for his historical writings, and they are brought vividly to life in this excellent book.

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