by Amos Elon (1989). A collection of essays about the fascination that the Holy city of Jerusalem has exerted on the Western mind for the past three thousand years. A great counter-point to Michener’s The Source, it gives a sweeping view of this city’s bloody history, and its collection of zealots and sinners and saints and plain nut cases (of course these categories are often indistinguishable) who have been attracted to Jerusalem. The book covers the post 1967 period, when Jews, for the first time since the Roman empire took over direct control around the time of Jesus’ birth, control all of the city again. The book has minatory words for the future – it remains unclear whether in this new age of religious extremism, any stable and peaceful solution to people of very different sensibilities co-existing side by side can be found. I read this book as I was enjoying the warm hospitality of the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Guesthouse, with a spectacular view from my bedroom window of the walls of the Old City built in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent. Every night, I would venture forth to some part of the Old City. After a while, however, the city and the inhabitants with their obsession with the past and with living according to obscure rules set down hundreds and even thousands of years ago, in a completely different age, became oppressive. Elon’s book well expresses this. Take the Church of the Hold Sepulchre in which five competing Christian sects jealously guard their particular fraction of the sanctum. The city is all about the past and only very little about the future. I happily made my escape to America, which is the opposite. For better or for worse, the fault-lines of the future run through California.