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Josephus’ account of a war marked by treachery and atrocity is a superbly detailed and evocative record of the Jewish rebellion against Rome between AD 66 and 70. Originally a rebel leader, Josephus changed sides after he was captured to become a Rome-appointed negotiator, and so was uniquely placed to observe these turbulent events, from the siege of Jerusalem to the final heroic resistance and mass suicides at Masada. His account provides much of what we know about the history of the Jews under Roman rule, with vivid portraits of such key figures as the Emperor Vespasian and Herod the Great. Often self-justifying and divided in its loyalties, The Jewish War nevertheless remains one of the most immediate accounts of war, its heroism and its horrors, ever written.

About the Author

Josephus was born in 37 AD. He was one of the Jewish leaders at the time of the revolt of the Jews in the reign of Nero. His two most important works are The Jewish War and The Jewish Antiquities.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
156 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Dean Cox
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Must-read, and I love this translation
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2013
The five stars are for the translator. Josephus is what he is: a first century Jew, soldier, historian, and opportunist. Without him we have virtually no record of the first thirty years of the Church, or the lead-up, execution, and clean-up of the Jewish rebellion... See more
The five stars are for the translator. Josephus is what he is: a first century Jew, soldier, historian, and opportunist. Without him we have virtually no record of the first thirty years of the Church, or the lead-up, execution, and clean-up of the Jewish rebellion against Rome, the most horrendous experience any nation, before or since, says the author - the worst possible war. There are stories of those who wanted to placate Rome to save lives and treasure; those who wanted to kill all Romans; horrible Jewish crime bosses who butchered the innocent; women eating their children within the walls of Jotapata while Roman siege-works (broken only by the bald heroism and brilliance of the author, so he says), starved thousands; breaking down Jerusalem''s walls and Romans becoming sick at seeing what Jews had done to Jews, with blood running in high rivers down the alleys. After reading this book, you will understand why so many have identified the Beast of Revelation with Nero. You''ll read the primary source for the famous mass suicide at the top of Masada. A 7 year war. A great tribulation. Many fulfilled New Testament prophecies within their own generation. If you''re a Preterist, it''s evidence that the premils could be mistaken. If you''re a premil, you may have some explaining to do. Although Josephus exaggerates and clearly sucks up to Rome, The Jewish War is a must-read for any Bible student or church historian. The problem has been that forever, it seems, Whiston was the only translation of the book, and I''m guessing that''s why so few people read it. Even if forced to read it for school credit, it made you want to cut your wrists. I discovered Williamson''s translation in a bruised book store by accident a few years ago, and suddenly the book was a page-turner; I couldn''t put it down. I missed meals. Then I was happy to find it on Kindle. You can get Whiston on Kindle too, but I see no reason to. Now, with Williamson''s touch, The Jewish War is readable again, so there should be no excuse for missing this treasure!
15 people found this helpful
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Gary W Stiegman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Its a wonder they did not kill everybody
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2020
The war goes on for a few years with the Roman Empire.You get to know Herod.The siege of Jerusalem is really a horror. Death comes if you are lucky you get to be a slave. I had to ask myself What were you thinking!!!It was a losing battle from the start.
2 people found this helpful
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MW Brown
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Horrible Proofing of an OCR Conversion
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2015
I am giving the Kindle edition of this book only two stars, not for any deficiency in content nor for a lack of historical or literary value, but because there are so many typos that many sentences require reference back to the printed book to understand what the writer... See more
I am giving the Kindle edition of this book only two stars, not for any deficiency in content nor for a lack of historical or literary value, but because there are so many typos that many sentences require reference back to the printed book to understand what the writer actually wrote. It appears that the publisher of this work simply scanned printed pages and then processed the output of the scans through an elementary OCR without benefit of a spelling checker nor any grammar analysis. We shouldn''t have to pay good money for inferior products such as this.
15 people found this helpful
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Joe Keenan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
In The Spirit of Robert E. Howard
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021
One of the greatest stories of war ever written, full of amazingly vivid tales of daring do. If someone wrote a Fantasy or Historical Fiction novel like this most people would roll their eyes at the over the top action sequences, what''s jarring is what you''re reading... See more
One of the greatest stories of war ever written, full of amazingly vivid tales of daring do.
If someone wrote a Fantasy or Historical Fiction novel like this most people would roll their eyes at the over the top action sequences, what''s jarring is what you''re reading is true, no fiction can capture the drama this book has between its covers.
This reads like something from Tolkien''s First Age and The War of the Jewels.
If you''re a fan of Heroic Fantasy (or whatever you call it) and want to get to the good parts, start at Chapter 17 - Factions in Jerusalem.
How''s this for an opening, "Only Gischala, a little town in Galilee, was left unreduced." Sounds like something Tolkien, Howard or Gemmel would pen!
And it''s all fast paced action from then on!
After finishing the book, go back and read the first sixteen chapters if you want, great history, amazing story
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Barbara Landry
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A great read!
Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2019
A wonderful book highly recommended if you are interested in the history and culture of ancient Jerusalem and Rome. An eye opening account on the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second temple at the hands of ancient Rome. Buy this book if only for the telling... See more
A wonderful book highly recommended if you are interested in the history and culture of ancient Jerusalem and Rome. An eye opening account on the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the second temple at the hands of ancient Rome. Buy this book if only for the telling of that dark time in history.... a real eye opener of the politics and power struggle within Jerusalem it self.
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Donna Moses
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Jewish Wars
Reviewed in the United States on February 4, 2021
A fascinating book - glad I ordered it.
Always have wondered about 70 A.D. when Jerusalem
was destroyed - including the Temple. After getting
this book I now see how horrific that war was between
Rome and the Jews.
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Kenneth M. Nollett
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is a great book, but the Kindle version is awful
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2016
This is a great book, but the Kindle version is awful. It looks like they did an OCR of the print version and then did no quality checking. At one point, it refers to the "great dungs" in the temple. The word "die" comes out as "the" almost every... See more
This is a great book, but the Kindle version is awful. It looks like they did an OCR of the print version and then did no quality checking. At one point, it refers to the "great dungs" in the temple. The word "die" comes out as "the" almost every single time. As in "they were prepared to the." It''s readable, but it takes some effort.
12 people found this helpful
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Mary Ann
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A classic!
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2014
This was recommended to me during the height of the turmoil in Lebannon in the late 70''s, early 80''s, by a friend who lived parttime in Beirut. He''d said it would do a great deal to explain the antagonism and tension between Israel and the Palestinians and Arabs. And, it... See more
This was recommended to me during the height of the turmoil in Lebannon in the late 70''s, early 80''s, by a friend who lived parttime in Beirut. He''d said it would do a great deal to explain the antagonism and tension between Israel and the Palestinians and Arabs. And, it did! Fascinating to read. BTW, this was a replacement for me, since I''d loaned my first copy to someone and they liked it so well that they kept it!
4 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Hema Patel
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2020
I bought this book for my Bible study on Jerusalem''s history and my Pastor had mentioned this in the discussion. I''m pleased that I got one for myself so that I can read it at leisure. It''s a fascinating story of Josephus on his writings on the accounts of the wars that...See more
I bought this book for my Bible study on Jerusalem''s history and my Pastor had mentioned this in the discussion. I''m pleased that I got one for myself so that I can read it at leisure. It''s a fascinating story of Josephus on his writings on the accounts of the wars that took in and around Jerusalem. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know how the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 by the Romans. It gives a detailed description of what the leaders and priests of that time did.
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Diane U
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A lively account of pivotal historical moment
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 23, 2018
I''d been wanting to read this for years, and was not disappointed. Josephus is a lively writer, though it''s not hard to see how critics find him self-serving (I found that pretty entertaining, actually). It''s utterly fascinating to get right into this pivotal moment in...See more
I''d been wanting to read this for years, and was not disappointed. Josephus is a lively writer, though it''s not hard to see how critics find him self-serving (I found that pretty entertaining, actually). It''s utterly fascinating to get right into this pivotal moment in history, and learn how nuanced it was--all those warring factions within the Jewish community (okay, little evidence of community spirit). The Middle East has changed little since then. It was also quite wonderful to watch the great figures of history--Cleopatra, the Caesars, Pontius Pilate, the Herods--move in and out of the story like extras on the stage. It also seems as if the great world-changing crucifixion made absolutely no impression on anyone at the time.
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Davywavy2
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An accessible classic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 2, 2008
Having gone through the state education system, I came out of school completely uneducated about things like history and classic literature and I''ve been trying to rectify this omission for many years. This has resulted in me reading a lot of the classics line, and...See more
Having gone through the state education system, I came out of school completely uneducated about things like history and classic literature and I''ve been trying to rectify this omission for many years. This has resulted in me reading a lot of the classics line, and something I''ve realised is what hard work many of them are. As times change, so do writing styles and ideas of what makes a narrative work, and to the modern reader many books written hundreds of years past can be a challenging read. This is why Josephus is such a pleasure. For all that we are separated from him by almost two thousand years, his humanity shines through. His history of the Jewish war against the Romans in the late 1st century AD is very much a history of his own activities therein, and what an unashamedly self-serving document it is. Originally a regional commander in the rebellious jewish army, Josephus wrote his history after his capture by the Romans and defection to their side (he became a Roman citizen and a courtier to more than one emperor). By turns witty, outrageously immodest and deceitful, Josephus wrote a hagiography of himself and his roman patrons and a tremendously enjoyable read it is too. By humanising his narrative, he also succeeds in making it accessible. We have so few records of the ancient world it is impossible to be absolutely certain how accurate any given historical document is. However, as well as being enjoyable, the archaelogical and historical record suggests that when Josephus talks about the facts of the war (who won and fought who, where and when) he can be trusted in the broad sweep if not in the details. It''s a fascinating and human insight into the ancient world which shows that people, wherever and whenever they lived, are just as human - and as worried about their reputations - as are we.
41 people found this helpful
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Kamrul Alom
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good read but a long one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 6, 2021
A chunky but worth while book. It does go into spirals of side stories and detail at times, but it is interesting and gives a good picture of what Isreal and Rome''s relationship was. I do believe it offers some inaccuracies but generally quite well strung.
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Eitan Levy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Josephus allows us to become acquainted with historical events that ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 17, 2017
Josephus allows us to become acquainted with historical events that are not covered by the Jewish or Christian bibles but are evidinced by archaeological sites. Although perhaps not 100 perecent accurate -allowing for his biases and patrons, his book is a valuable resource...See more
Josephus allows us to become acquainted with historical events that are not covered by the Jewish or Christian bibles but are evidinced by archaeological sites. Although perhaps not 100 perecent accurate -allowing for his biases and patrons, his book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about events leading up to and following the destruction of Temple II in Jerusalem
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The online Jewish War: Revised Edition (Penguin discount Classics) outlet online sale

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