When the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 CE, Josephus, a Jerusalem aristocrat, was made a general in his nation's army. Captured by the Romans, he saved his skin by finding favor with the emperor Vespasian. He then served as an adviser to the Roman legions, running a network of spies inside Jerusalem, in the belief that the Jews' only hope of survival lay in surrender to Rome.
As a Jewish eyewitness who was given access to Vespasian's campaign notebooks, Josephus is our only source of information for the war of extermination that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple, and the amazing times in which he lived. He is of vital importance for anyone interested in the Middle East, Jewish history, and the early history of Christianity.
©2009 Desmond Seward (P)2014 Audible Inc.
The content and arrangement of the book are good. The author knows the subject and has tried to present information in an accessible way. I have valued the contextual information provided about Josephus' life and times. It is the actual audio presentation that makes this a poor experience.
I think Stephen Hoye must have been very bored while reading this book. His delivery was like a pastiche of the Reverend Timothy "Tim" Lovejoy from the Simpson's. "Dreary" is the word that comes to mind.
If you know nothing about the fall of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem to the Romans, you are missing out on one of the craziest, most bizarre and horrifying chapters in human history. The story had me totally absorbed (if not in shock) during my commutes to work. Other reviewers didn't like the speakers steady vocal style, but he was easy to understand and his tempo worked well for me. I'm glad I listened to it.
"Don't waste your money or time"
I was very disappointed with this book.
I expected to hear about Masada, about Josephus, and other relevant characters. I did not want to hear mystical stories from a christian perspective. Missionaries have twisted the words of Josephus to point to their new testament story. The problem is that Josephus only made a brief scantily mention of the rebellious NT crew. Had the book not rambled on and on about this then it might be worth listening to the whole thing. But, after two hours of the same story-line it was time to shut it off. This book was a complete waste of my time and money.
"A retelling of Josephus's "The Jewish War""
It is a pretty accurate re-telling of what is in Josephus's writings. That's what is good.
It is for the most part untainted by more modern scholarship. The author quotes Josephus on numbers of people (usually killed), actions of troops, what speeches leaders gave, etc. mostly without criticism and little comment, except to say that, for example, "Titus probably did say that," or "Simon's speech said this," even if Josephus wasn't there. His numbers are probably fantasies. Josephus quotes the population of Jerusalem around the time of the siege as about 1 million. Modern scholars have put the figure at far less, perhaps 20,000, so there cannot have been 500,000 dead, even taking into account the pilgrims who happened to be there for the Passover. In 2011, the population of a vastly expanded Jerusalem was about 250,000.
I am not criticizing the author for reporting what Josephus says, but he hardly ever (except, I think, for one time) says that Josephus's numbers are not to be believed. The book also repeats, usually uncritically, laudatory comments about the Romans, particularly Titus, as well as condemnations that could do with some more contemporary views.
For example: Masada. The zealots holed up in that fortress were probably siccari, assassins who, before the war, assassinated Jews who dealt with Romans, and probably killed a lot of prominent people. After they took Masada, they never came out to attack the Romans, even from the rear during the siege of Jerusalem, and they lived by preying on the nearby Jewish population. Some historical discussion of this would have been useful.
If you want to know what Josephus wrote, without having to slog through the ancient verbiage, this book does just that for you. That is what makes it worth reading. Just be aware that much of it is colored by the self-serving intent of Josephus, and it is not necessarily (indeed, it almost certainly is not) accurate in much of what is written. I just wish the book's author had written with a more critical eye.
Of course, we have little other information about the Jewish War
"An in depth look at the works of Josephus"
An excellent scholarly review of Josephus' works as they pertain to the Jewish Revolt and the destruction of the second temple. Context and review of other works and criticism included.
If you are interested in the empire and the siege of Jerusalem it is a balanced look at some of the more biased recounting of Josephus.
I was looking for a book about josiphous, with context and commentary. This Book is phenomenal, very well balanced, entertaining, informative and educating.
Reader was a bit dry - the narrative outshone the narrator.
"I want to like this audio version"
I really want to like this audiobook, however the narration is like listening to a male Siri read you a book. Hoye does not really show any emotion (I know it is non-fiction) or change in tone.
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