alan balfour
Solomon's Temple: In Place of God
world cities: shanghai new york
berlin berlin politics of order
rockefeller center portsmouth
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Though the city is the ostensible subject of Alan Balfour's writing in recent years, the underlying concern has been a fascination with the imagination of culture. "I write cultural history from the evidence of building and cities," Balfour says, "and I focus on settings of significant conflict to examine the underlying causes."

His most recent book Solomon's Temple: Myth, Conflict, and Faith is a doubles as a social and cultural history of the region. The Temple Mount, the site of numerous structures and shrines considered holy both by Christians and Muslims, is certainly one of the most contested places on earth. This erudite but highly accessible work is based on sources from religious texts, archives and museums in the Middle East and elsewhere, and most significantly at the sites of the holy places themselves. For example he writes that "I reconstructed the events leading up to Christ's arrest by walking over and over again the paths that He would have travelled. . ." An integral feature of the book-- one that betrays Balfour's roots in architectural history -- is its lavish illustrations. Particularly in the impressive Kindle edition, readers can explore a set of incredibly rich reproductions of lithographs, paintings, and architectural drawings. The meanings, symbolism, and sometimes distortions conveyed by these images contribute to the overall arc of the narrative.