Jose Carillo's Forum


This section features wide-ranging, thought-provoking articles in English on any subject under the sun. Its objective is to present new, mind-changing ideas as well as to show to serious students of English how the various tools of the language can be felicitously harnessed to report a momentous or life-changing finding or event, to espouse or oppose an idea, or to express a deeply felt view about the world around us.

The outstanding English-language expositions to be featured here will mostly be presented through links to the websites that carry them. To put a particular work in better context, links to critiques, biographical sketches, and various other material about the author and his or her works will usually be also provided.

A brilliant biography of “the bridge between heaven and earth”

Despite the fact that it has been a holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike over the centuries, Jerusalem certainly has experienced more conflict, brutality, and internecine warfare than any other city on earth—a bloody evidence of the powerful but inscrutable influence of religious belief in human affairs. In Jerusalem: The Biography (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 696 pages), award-winning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore makes a brilliant, sweeping account of the tortuous past of a place that’s believed by millions as “the bridge between heaven and earth.”


In “City of Gods,” a review of Jerusalem: The Biography that came out in the January 26, 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine, Bruce Anderson says that Montefiore has risen to the challenge of showing Jerusalem as an epitome of the human condition: man at his best, and worst. “The author is especially good on archaeology,” Anderson says. “Just under the surface of Jerusalem lie 3,000 years’ worth of stones and bones. Many stones have been disinterred and reused. Newer buildings rest on the foundations of ancient ones. The city centre is an archaeological palimpsest, and Sebag Montefiore appears to have mastered the scholarship. But this is not an arid process: he can make the stones live and sing.”

Anderson says that Montefiore always rises above partisanship in his account of the religious and political conflicts that continue to hound Jerusalem. He also observes that although the book does deal with recent attempts to find compromises and bring peace to Jerusalem, Montefiore is far too realistic and well-informed to indulge in optimism. “There is little in Jerusalem’s past, and less still in the present, to encourage hope for the future,” Anderson says. “But the city is still there: one of the most magnificent sights on earth, no better place to meditate on the troubles of our proud and angry dust. For such a journey, this book is an excellent vade mecum.”

Read Bruce Anderson’s “City of Gods” in Prospect Magazine now!

Simon Sebag Montefiore is a historian and writer whose works are world bestsellers that have been published in 33 languages. Educated at Harrow School and Cambridge University, he became an investment banker and then a war correspondent, going on to write a political column for The Sunday Times and contributing regularly to The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and other titles in the UK, and The New York Review of Books, The New Republic and The New York Times, in the USA. He has written a universally acclaimed biography, Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin (2001), and two novels, My Affairs with Stalin and Sashenka. Montefiore is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the United Kingdom.

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