Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel New edition Edition by Eric H. Cline (University of Michigan Press)
The book is vast in scope: it covers from the Bronze Age to the Modern Age.
The book is written as a narrative of Jerusalem, and succeeds in conveying the events of history surrounding Jerusalem in a way that keeps Jerusalem at the center, and this is done well. You will learn a lot about Jerusalem, specifically, and its quite enjoyable reading.
I have two major points of contention.
1. He claims that the Umayyad Dynasty began in 638, with the taking of Jerusalem. This simply cannot be true. Caliph Umar was in charge during 638, was the Caliph who ordered the taking of, and received the surrender of, Jerusalem. There is not even room to argue that he was the beginning of the Umayyad Dynasty. He is neither from the Banu Umayyah—I think he's from Banu Qusay, off the top of my head, nor is the caliphate administering from Damascus (this doesn't happen until the Umayyad Dyansty begins, officially). Caliph Ali isn't killed until 661, which is considered the end of the Rashidun Caliphate, and thus the beginning of the Umayyad cannot be 638. There are arguments to be made that it began shortly before 661, as Mu'awiyah had amassed a serious military and administration in Damascus by this time, but certainly not in 638, certainly not before Uthman is killed, certainly not before the Battle of the Camel, or the Battle of Siffin.
2. He follows Karen Armstrong's definition of jihad, which forgoes any notion of the Greater Jihad and Lesser Jihad, the former being an internal battle and the latter being the existential or external battle.
All those and the binding of the book is s***, the first 50 pages have fallen out. They're glued in, so I guess that's to be expected, and it's not even good glue.