Myth & Narrative


  • The Field of Blood by Nicholas Morton

    The Field of Blood by Nicholas Morton

    Nicholas Morton’s new book on the formative years of the Crusader states is a delight on multiple levels. The Field of Blood: The Battle for Aleppo and the Remaking of the Medieval Middle East provides an illuminating survey of the Levantine region in the period immediately after the Christian Frank incursion, when Jerusalem was the…

  • A Tale of Two Jerusalem Days

    A Tale of Two Jerusalem Days

    A couple of years ago I found myself changing my flight to Jerusalem to include a side-trip to Jordan, so that I could meet a friend-of-a-cousin-of-a-friend who had offered to help me with my research. It was difficult to find anything about the man I was to meet, but among the precious snippets I could…

  • The Persistence of Myth

    The Persistence of Myth

    While working on a chapter on Jerusalem during the British Mandate (1917-1948) I ran into one of the private micro-dramas I assume most writers run into and that I learned long ago nobody else is really interested in. But as I thought about it more, there seemed to be a lesson for me that I…

  • Ze’ev Herzog and the historicity of the Bible

    Ze’ev Herzog and the historicity of the Bible

    To what extent can we reasonably treat the stories of the Bible as actual historical events? On a recent visit to Tel Aviv, I had a fascinating interview with Dr. Ze’ev Herzog, a distinguished Israeli archaeologist and a leading figure in the debate regarding the “historicity” of the Hebrew Bible, or what Christians call the Old Testament.…

  • Encountering Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman

    Encountering Bible and Sword by Barbara Tuchman

    Last weekend I faced a solitary thousand-mile roundtrip drive from the Bay Area to San Diego down the largely featureless California Central Valley, a chore that became a delight as I spent the time listening to a book I’d never read, Bible and Sword, by a writer I’ve long admired, Barbara Tuchman.

  • Fred Donner and the Early Days of Islam

    Fred Donner and the Early Days of Islam

    One of the pleasures I’ve discovered in time I’ve spent so far on my current project is meeting interesting people, and also discovering how generous some people can be with their time and expertise. This was brought home to me most recently when I met Fred Donner, a distinguished scholar of Islam and of Near…