When the Jews revolted against the Roman occupation in AD 66, among their generals wasJosephus (Yossef ben Mattityahu ha-Kohen), a nobleman and priest from Jerusalem who had been a favourite of Nero’s wife, Poppaea. Taken prisoner, he saved himself from crucifixion by prophesying that the Roman commander Vespasian would eventually become Emperor, after which he served as an intelligence officer with the Legions, running a network of spies inside Jerusalem - in the belief that the Jews’ sole hope of surival lay in surrender.
An eyewitness who was given access to Vespasian’s campaign diaries, Josephus is our one source of information for a war that ended with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in an earlier holocaust. We only know what the Temple looked like, or about the fall of Masada, from what he tells us. He has also left us an amazingly frank portrait of himself and his colourful, often nightmarish career. He is of vital importance for anyone interested in the Middle East, in Jewish history and in the early history of Christianity
Desmond Seward was born in Paris and educated at Ampleforth and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He is the author of many books including The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders, The Hundred Years War, The Wars of the Roses, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry V as Warlord, Josephus, Masada and the Fall of Judaea (da Capo, US, April 2009), Wings over the Desert: in action with an RFC pilot in Palestine 1916-18 (Haynes Military, July 2009) and Old Puglia: A Portrait of South Eastern Italy (Haus August 2009). Forthcoming is The Last White Rose: the Spectre at the Tudor Court 1485-1547 (C...
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