Public Affairs
Hardcover $28.00
Available Nov 07, 2017
Biography of a Town


An unforgettable history of the beloved little town published in time for the holidays

Bethlehem is so suffused with history and myth that it feels like an unreal city even to those who call it home. For many, Bethlehem remains the little town at the edge of the desert described in Biblical accounts. Today, the city is hemmed in by a wall and surrounded by forty-one Israeli settlements and hostile settlers and soldiers.

Nicholas Blincoe tells the town's history through the visceral experience of living there, taking readers through its stone streets and desert wadis, its monasteries, aqueducts, and orchards to show the city from every angle and era. His portrait of Bethlehem sheds light on one of the world's most intractable political problems, and he maintains that if the long thread winding back to the city's ancient past is severed, the chances of an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict will be lost with it.

about Nicholas Blincoe

  • Nicholas Blincoe is a bestselling, award-winning novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Married to the Bethlehem filmmaker Leila Sansour, he co-produced two feature-length documentaries on the Palestine-Israel conflict, Jeremy Hardy vs. the Israeli Army and Open Bethlehem. Blincoe has long divided his time between London and Bethlehem.


"[Bethlehem] brings within reach 11,000 years of history, centering on the beloved town's unique place in the world. Blincoe's love of Bethlehem is compelling, even as he does not shy away from the complexities of its chronicle."—President Jimmy Carter

"Stories about places, unlike the stories of individuals, tend to be shifty. Yes, some evidence is there but the connecting human threads have to be imagined. In the clever hands of Nicholas Blincoe, Bethlehem emerges as a wholesome 11,000-year-old, ancient yet lucidly defined with a gripping tale to tell about herself and about the entire region. This tale illuminates both the past and the present of the Middle East with countless instances of fantastic achievement and equally terrible human folly."—Yotam Ottolenghi, coauthor of Jerusalem

"Blincoe's book is as multifaceted as the city about which he writes. With great skill he accomplishes the daunting task of providing a highly readable account covering the long history of Bethlehem from the Stone Age to modern times. But it is not only a work of scholarship. It's a book by a talented chronicler who lovingly paints the city's many contradictions and bewildering complexity. Highly readable and informative it leaves the reader not only with a profound admiration for this city of extremes and its resilient inhabitants who have endured such hardships but also with a deep lament at the current suffering of the people of Bethlehem."—Raja Shehadeh, author of Where The Line Is Drawn

"A lovely personal adventure through the history of Bethlehem from its origins up to the present day. Blincoe captures the continuities and contradictions, the myths and the history of one of the world's most famous towns."—Peter Frankopan, author of Silk Roads

"This sensitive and human history of Bethlehem from ancient time to our day is the most original and powerful guide you will ever read about this important city. The book succeeds in fusing together the history of more than a millennium with personal recollections, archaeological and morphological insights, as well [as] wonderfully written descriptions of human and geographical landscapes. Relics and stories of the past are used as entry points for uncovering the various chapters in this holy city's history through personal anecdotes and the most recent scholarship, with constant attention to human suffering and hopes."—Ilan Pappe

"Blincoe's remarkable account is stunning in scope and draws on absorbing sources. Interweaving his years of personal familiarity with Bethlehem, he reveals the town as 'the fulcrum of world history.' His gifted writing and nuanced humor makes this a must-read, as he sweeps across millennia."—Mary Elizabeth King, author of A Quiet Revolution

"A remarkable and important history with fascinating insights round every corner."—Charlie English, author of The Storied City

"An exuberant and erudite journey into the real Bethlehem. Each page leads the reader down new and fascinating tangents of history, cuisine, and personal anecdote, each time somehow finding its way back to Bethlehem and its habit of standing at the center of world affairs."—Jacob Norris, author of Land of Progress: Palestine in the Age of Colonial Development

"This is a learned, trenchant and badly-needed history of one of the most famous and symbolically-laden, yet woefully misunderstood, cities on earth. Millions believe they care deeply about Bethlehem without knowing the first thing about its history or lived reality. The next time someone feels like singing about this 'little town,' perhaps they should spend some time with Mr. Blincoe's illuminating book first."—Hussein Ibish, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington

"A history of the
town of Bethlehem, both sweeping and personal in scope."—Kirkus Reviews

"Weaving up-close
personal experience into an extensively researched narrative, Blincoe limns the
developments that transformed Bethlehem... As he peels away the layers of culture
this succession of overlords has given Bethlehem, Blincoe illuminates the continuing
relevance of each fascinating layer... All will leave these pages with a richer
understanding of an iconic city."—Booklist

other editions

  • Hardcover | ISBN 9781568585833
    Pub date: 11/07/2017 | Price: $28.00 / 36.50 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    288 Pages
    HISTORY / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
    POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern
  • eBook | ISBN 9781568585840
    Pub date: 11/07/2017 | Price: $16.99 / 21.99 Canada
    Publisher: Nation Books
    288 Pages
    HISTORY / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
    POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern