Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Jewish War” as Want to Read:
The Jewish War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Jewish War

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,523 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
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 fina ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 511 pages
Published February 7th 1981 by Penguin Classics (first published 75)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Jewish War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Jewish War

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward GibbonConfessions by Jean-Jacques RousseauPhenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelThe Republic by PlatoThe Histories by Herodotus
Best pre-20th Century Non-Fiction
32nd out of 118 books — 23 voters
I Capture the Castle by Dodie SmithHowl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleStarCrossed by Elizabeth C. BunceThe Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
Castles on the Cover
36th out of 186 books — 48 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 15, 2016 William1 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 01-ce, rome, war, judaism
The Jewish War started strong and I wondered at first if it might hold a candle to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. It doesn't in the end. Much of it comes across as a piece of special pleading. Josephus wrote the book during a time of growing hostility under Roman Emperor Domitian (reigned 81-96 CE) toward those of the Jewish faith. The Jews had long had an official exemption from participation in the state rites, yet the increasingly tyrannical Domitian firmly believed in the trad ...more
Evan Leach
Over 1,900 years ago, in July of 67, forty-one prominent Jewish leaders huddled in a dark cave below the city of Yodfat, in Galilee. One year before, the entire province of Judea had risen in revolt from the Roman Empire, and Roman forces had been systematically decimating the northern part of the province as a result. Yodfat had just fallen, and its citizens were being massacred by the thousands. Trapped and despairing, the leaders decided that mass suicide was preferable to falling into Roman ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Yann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Écrit à la fin des années 70 du Ier siècle de notre ère, la « guerre des Juifs » relate la destruction de l’insurrection de la Palestine par Vespasien et son fils Titus. L'alliance entre les Juifs et les romains était pourtant ancienne: elle datait, du IIème siècle avant JC, à cette époque où Rome mettait en place une politique de déstabilisation du royaume Séleucide, pour aider son traditionnel allié Lagide, en soutenant les révoltes des indépendantistes locaux.

C'était la marque de la politiqu
Pete daPixie
Dec 09, 2008 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
From the horse's mouth. Josephus, a priest in the temple in Jerusalem, a military leader of Jewish resistance against Vespasian, a romanised citizen. The history is written in the style of the time. The Penquin edition, abridged from the original,is still enormously readable. Valuable insight to early christianity and the might of Rome.
Mar 28, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
If you are looking for epic, this is it. From the dysfunctional family intrigues of the paranoid Herod's palace to the mass suicide of the Jews at Masada, Josephus--who apparently was at the siege of Jerusalem--relates the story of the Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire.
I started reading this book because it was referenced in two others I have been reading; one on the copper scroll of Qumran--a list of treasures that may have been saved from the temple-- and another on the treasure that Ti
May 12, 2015 Kori rated it really liked it
Reading about Jesus' prophecies of the Jewish War in the New Testament is one thing . . . reading the actual account is another. This book is an eyewitness account of the Jewish War. I was horrified at the things the Jews did to their own country--their doings were what caused them to lose the war. And yet, even while killing each other and defiling God's temple, they still expected God to save them from the Romans. I was almost horrified to tears on the monstrosities they committed. One woman e ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Marks54 rated it it was amazing
This is the history of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans around the year 70 ad. The author was a general for the Jews who was captured by the Romans and talked his way into an advisory role so he could write the history of the conflict. It is a fascinating story of how the Romans administered their empire and how they went about maintaining order in the far reaches of their empire. Not to give too much away, but rebelling against the Romans turned out to be a very bad idea. The story reads ...more
Chris Watson
Jul 15, 2009 Chris Watson rated it it was amazing
What a story. Was there ever such a time. A nation destroyed by a tyrannical empire, tearing itself to pieces by self-destructive factionalism and fanaticism. Told so well, objectively but not too much so, by a man who was present, on the side of the Romans, to participate in his own nation's destruction.

It deserves 9 stars.
Oct 14, 2016 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: history
THE JEWISH WAR. (93 A.D.) Flavius Josephus. ***.
This is one of those books that has been sitting on my ‘to be read’ shelf for a long time. Guilt finally took over, and I started it. It is not an easy book to read; in fact, I don’t think that anyone could read it straight through and make any sense about it. As a history of Jews and Romans, it tends to skip about quite a bit; the author does not use a strict chronological method to do his reporting. I found that there were usually several battles
Jul 21, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, history
I bought this book to read before a trip to Israel in 1999. It's a very readable English translation. This gives Josephus' account of the war between the Romans and the Jews in the 1st century. Most fascinating (and horrible) are the accounts of the destruction of Gamla and Jerusalem and the final siege of Masada. Scholars are critical of Josephus because he puts too much of himself into the story and because it is probably biased in favor of his Roman benefactors. (Josephus began fighting again ...more
James Cambias
Sep 20, 2012 James Cambias rated it liked it
A fascinating account of the very bloody Jewish revolt against Rome, told by a man who got to see both sides very clearly. It's actually pretty even-handed, since Josephus was a Jew but also was trying to flatter his patron the Roman emperor Vespasian (who commanded the legions that put down the revolt). So he is realistic about the Jewish rebels sincere desire for freedom -- and the horrible infighting and brigandage which doomed their uprising to failure. He praises the Roman conduct of the wa ...more
Edward Hetzler
Mar 15, 2014 Edward Hetzler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History with a personal touch

History with a personal touch

This is not a rigorous academic history in the modern sense. It is part collected stories, part personal experiences and part philosophy. What makes this interesting is that it is written by a man who actually participated in some of the events he is writing about.

Unlike a modern history there are no dates. Everything is referenced by who was the ruler at the time. This can lead to confusion because within a royal family the names get rec
Mar 14, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism
Loved it. How could a Jew not love it? It filled me with longing for Jerusalem. For all in doubt about the right of the Jewish revival in Israel this is a must read, also for Jews with self doubts. This history is not mere legend or myth, it is real and vivid and our return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of our nation long after Rome's grandeur has decayed is nothing short of a miracle.
Dec 26, 2011 Garrett rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I've listened the first half of this book. Josephus is an excellent historian of the inter-Testamentary period and the early Roman period of the Jewish people and lands. If you're interested in what led up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, this is the book to read.
Jul 13, 2010 Benedict rated it it was amazing
This is quite a story of real life events by an eyewitness.

Tho book has has some of the most powerful writing about events to be found anywhere.

The author was there at Masada.
M. Milner
Josephus was a Jewish priest and general in the early stages of that war. He commanded some soldiers and, by his own account, was the only general with any success. But he was captured in the siege of Jotapata and quickly turned to the Roman side. He was clever, verbose and absolutely full of himself. His history is a fascinating mix of fact, score settling and outright fiction. Not only does it cover a period of history just about completely unknown outside of it, it tells it in an entertaining ...more
Leonard Mokos
Oct 12, 2016 Leonard Mokos rated it really liked it
People... what a bunch of bastards.
Czarny Pies
Sep 09, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Christianity, Judaism or the Roman empire
Shelves: greek-and-roman
Flavius Josephus' "Jewish Wars" is a great book with extraordinary rewards for at least four categories of reader. Churchgoers will be fascinated by the portrait that it provides of Judea at the time Christ was alive. Those interested in political history will discover a complex and detailed portrait of the workings of the Roman Empire. Those interested in military history will find an excellent description of the techniques and horrors of war in the first century of the Common Era. Finally, the ...more
Dec 22, 2013 Yasmeen marked it as to-read
من أهم الكتب التاريخية التي يعتمد عليها الصهاينة في إثبات ما يدعون أنه تاريخهم ووجودهم وحقهم وهيكلهم على أرض فلسطين هو كتاب "تاريخ حرب اليهود مع الرومان" للمؤرخ اليهودي يوسف بن متتياهو والذي كتبه باللغة الأرامية سنة 73 للميلاد ثم كتبه باللغة اليونانية.

في الكتاب يصف القدس والحياة فيها "بدقة"-كما يدّعون-ويروي أحداث تفرد بها ولم يروها غيره كحصار اليهود في هضبة متسادا في صحراء النقب(هناك من اليهود من يشكك في رواياته كشلومو زند مؤلف كتاب كيف ومتى اخترعت أرض إسرائيل؟).

يروي تاريخ الثورة اليهودية على ا
Edward Weiner
Sep 15, 2016 Edward Weiner rated it liked it
Bit of a slog, even though I listened to much of it. I got the free ebook and audio book from Librivox. I am glad I did it. This is a chronicle of the war written by a participant - on both sides. Some of the Good Reads reviews are very good. Probably should not try this without first having some understanding of the history of the Roman Empire in the first century C.E.
John Cooke
Feb 17, 2016 John Cooke rated it it was amazing
I was captivated by the Penguin edition of THE JEWISH WAR, by Flavius Josephus, a contemporary account of the Roman destruction of Galilee and Judea during the 1st century A.D. This book has stirred a huge volume of debate over the last 1950 years or so ... often as to the veracity of what Josephus is telling us at various points. Setting all that aside, I confess my huge admiration at the scope and voluminous detail. I admire much in this history. But the three best parts, to put it that way, a ...more
Kevin K
Jul 23, 2016 Kevin K rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, packed with interesting detail. I was especially intrigued by the in-depth description of the operations of the Roman army. But there's so much more: the background and story of Herod; cameos by Pompey, Octavian, Marc Antony and Cleopatra; a fascinating account of the Essenes; portraits of Vespasian and Titus as field commanders and administrators; the bizarre partisan intrigues within Jerusalem during the siege; the final burning and looting of Herod's temple; and the very movin ...more
Bryn Hammond
Feb 12, 2015 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient-other
I've read half. It has downtime. I'm here not for the particulars of the history (that are dully told with names I can't keep track of) but for the firsthand horror-shop that I hear is the siege of Jerusalem.

What I didn't know about is book one: the tragedy of Herod the Great. It's King Lear in real life, with scenes from Macbeth because he murders record numbers of his kindred -- but it isn't his fault. I felt sorry for him, and he felt sorry for himself. Don't miss the putrefaction of his pri
Sep 07, 2013 Douglas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This was heavy reading. The language is archaic and at times felt it was basically gossip. It would go into lengthy details about Herod's family affairs and local politics. You could be talking about modern political affairs for all you care: unfaithful wives, political marriages, fratricide, patricides, harassment, corruption.

The part I enjoyed reading the most was that of the War of the Jews (against the Roman Empire). Very detailed, since Josephus was a General during this war and he had
CJ Bowen
Feb 20, 2012 CJ Bowen rated it liked it
Thinking of this book as both 2nd temple background and as helpful corroboration for a preterist take on Revelation. Must communicate both function to people as a secondary authority such that they support the biblical case, but when Josephus does funny things with people and numbers, faith remains unaffected.

Great translation - a tragic adventure story, full of intrigue, impassioned rhetoric, betrayal, romance, and mostly death. An editor concerned with readability would probably cut the histor
K's Bognoter
Jan 21, 2015 K's Bognoter rated it liked it
Shelves: på-min-boghylde
Jeg blev overrasket over hvor læsbar, den gamle tekst faktisk er (i en oversættelse til 1959-engelsk, ganske vist). I lange stræk er den decideret underholdende og lader ikke moderne ramasjangromaner meget tilbage at ønske i forhold detaljerede beskrivelser af krigshandlinger. Titus’ belejring, storm på og ødelæggelse af Jerusalem udfoldes over hele 100 sider. I nogle passager løfter Josefus sig næsten til homeriske højder i sin heroiske anprisning af enkelte soldater, der udmærker sig på særlig ...more
Víctor Sampayo
Aug 18, 2014 Víctor Sampayo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Es una historia de esas que se queda largo tiempo en la sensibilidad y la imaginación del lector, no sólo por su repercusión histórica —en ella se pueden encontrar las raíces de un problema que todavía hoy sigue sacudiendo al mundo, como es el conflicto en la tierra de Palestina—, sino también por la gran belleza de la narración de Flavio Josefo que, sin tomar en cuenta una posible falta de objetividad debido a su amistad con los romanos en el momento en que fue escrito (entre los años 75 a 79 d ...more
May 12, 2016 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Lively, well-informed and an unparalleled narrative of this most destructive of wars in the Land of Israel, Josephus also tends to be self-serving, unprobably loquacious and obsequious towards his captors and sponsors: the Romans. You need to keep all of this in mind whilst reading The Jewish War. I first read this book when I was a student, and I had forgotten just how well this SOB wrote, and we can only wish that other ancient conflicts were blessed with such a vivid portrait. We know far mor ...more
Alexander Rolfe
May 15, 2015 Alexander Rolfe rated it it was ok
Josephus is not reader-friendly: he's hard to follow, and he throws names around like crazy with little or no introduction. It doesn't help that one conceives a dislike for Josephus personally as the story unfolds. But I would advise anyone struggling to push on to the part about Herod the Great, which is more interesting and easier to follow than anything preceding. Then if you're sick of the slaughter, give up-- it doesn't get any better.

Still, he's the only guy with the information, and some
James Violand
Feb 15, 2015 James Violand rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own
This would be rated higher if not for the insufferable ego of Josephus. I have yet to encounter anyone who holds himself in such high esteem. The cause, prosecution and result of the Jewish Rebellion against Rome is well documented. The translation is heavily footnoted which greatly enhances the reading but, alas, these are committed to the rear of the volume, necessitating a constant reference and loss of place - far better to list them on the same page! Although Josephus may not have intended ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Possible bug with published year and statistics page? 7 18 Sep 25, 2015 04:17AM  
  • The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus
  • The Later Roman Empire (A.D. 354-378)
  • The Jugurthine War and the Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Civil Wars
  • The History of Alexander
  • Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of the History of Rome from its Foundation
  • The Histories
  • A History of My Times
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire
  • The Fall of the Roman Republic: Six Lives
  • The Civil War
  • The Campaigns of Alexander
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • Lives of the Later Caesars
  • The Letters of the Younger Pliny
  • The Later Roman Empire
Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100),[1] also called Joseph ben Matityahu (Biblical Hebrew: יוסף בן מתתיהו, Yosef ben Matityahu),[2] was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer who was born in Jerusalem - then part of Roman Judea - to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.

He initially fought against the Romans during the First Jewish–Roman War as the h
More about Flavius Josephus...

Share This Book

“Brave and loyal followers! Long ago we resolved to serve neither the Romans nor anyone other than God Himself, who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind. The time has now come that bids us prove our determination by our deeds we have never submitted to slavery, even when it brought no danger with it. We must not choose slavery now, and with it penalties that will mean the end of everything if we fall alive into the hands of the Romans God has given us this privilege, that we can die nobly and as free men and leave this world as free men in company with our wives and children.
(Elazar Ben Yair)”
“Obym nie znalazł się za swego żywota w takiej niewoli, żebym miał wyrzec się swego pochodzenia i zapomnieć o dziedzictwie swoich przodków!” 1 likes
More quotes…