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Jerusalem: City of the Book Reviews

Jerusalem: City of the Book by Merav Mack, Benjamin Balint, Frederic Brenner

Jerusalem: City of the Book

Merav Mack, Benjamin Balint, Frederic Brenner

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1 review

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 4 Jun 2019
ISBN: 9780300222852

A captivating journey through the hidden libraries of Jerusalem, where some of the world's most enduring ideas were put into words

4 stars out of 5
13 Jul 2019

"a scholastic thriller"

Part of the charm of their book is the fact that, as the authors travel from archive to archive, they try to ‘experience Jerusalem like a Jerusalemite’. This is not a city you experience chronologically, but chaotically... This approach gives the prose both a reverential quality and a hectic, gleeful energy. It can also give the reader vertigo, with odd gaps between paragraphs as we leap excitedly in another direction. And for those of us whose 14th-century Judean history is a little rusty, it can be tricky to keep hold of the chronology of underlying events. Yet there is still plenty here to amaze the reader. Jerusalem deals heavily in rare manuscripts, but it is itself that rarest of books: an academic work that fuses dense scholarship with the surreal intrigue of a Borgesian story and the derring-do of a Boy’s Own adventure. It makes for a scholastic thriller stuffed full of ghost scrolls, forgeries, buried texts and thieving bishops.

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