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American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  63 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
For generations, The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem has been a well-known retreat for journalists, diplomats, pilgrims and spies. However, few know the story of Anna Spafford, the enigmatic evangelist who was instrumental in its founding

Branded heretics by Jerusalem’s established Christian missionaries when they arrived in 1881, the Spaffords and their followers never
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Anchor (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 144)
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Jul 05, 2008 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
Fascinating story of The Overcomers, a religious cult from Chicago, who moved to Jerusalem to await the Second Coming of Christ in the late 1800's. Their interest was not prosleytizing -- in fact, they counted both Arabs and Jews among their staunchest supporters -- but only (originally) to place themselves at the foot of Christ and His return. Their impact on the city remains today, in the form of the American Colony Hotel which continues to provide four-star lodging to important visitors to th ...more
This covered a very interesting subject. Here was a religious cult that actually did some good. But, like in all such groups, there was also lots of exploitation of the followers in the group and lots of weirdness involved. The writing was well-researched, but I felt like there were various places where the prose was not as clear as it could have been. For instance, there was a collision of two ships mid-ocean and it was not clear which boat hit which and which came to the rescue. This was a ver ...more
I finished reading this book late on a Saturday, too late to write a good review. It is Sunday and, inasmuch as this book is about a "Christian" sect, an appropriate day to write the review. The author quotes Alexis de Tocqueville (who toured the US in 1831)"Religious insanity is very common in the United States." A statement which seems to run true throughout our history. The preponderance of this history starts a generation after de Tocqueville and continues past World War II. The major religi ...more
Julia Reed
Jun 09, 2011 Julia Reed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After I read this book, I talked about it so much that my co-workers started openly mocking me. But it was THAT GOOD! Quick background for those that don't go to Jerusalem on a regular basis: the American Colony hotel is one of the famous hotels in central Jerusalem (the other two probably being the King David and the David Citadel) and particualarly notable because it actually sits in East Jerusalem, now the predominately Arab part of the city. Most people who work in the Middle East or on the ...more
Religious fundamentalism run amok but at the same time catering and caring for many that the missionaries of the day just cast aside. There is a whole cast of saints and sinners and a few are found to be both. Ms Geniesse has created a well researched book on the American Colony in Jerusalem and given a tide of history of the middle east an area of complexities to this day. Truly a fascinating read!

The Spaffords created the American Colony as a place for the group to prepare for the end of the
An interesting story of the American Colony in Jerusalem. Loaded with lots of history and an amazing story of how a cult starts and morphs to suit its needs.
Sep 02, 2008 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: RJ Julia Bookshop in Madison, CT
An amazing story of one woman and her capacity to lead and guide many under her wing - not always for the betterment of those who followed. Her reign began along with her husband, Horatio, during the Protestant evangelical wave after the Civil Warm when they convinced themselves and a handful of others that the Second Coming was imminent and that they were being called to Jerusalem. Even though they were scorned by the American Consul and other missionaries, this small group were admired and app ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent story of the Overcomers in Jerusalem...a group of Americans and Swedes who moved to Jerusalem in the late 1800s to await the Second Coming. While their religious beliefs were odd, their impact on the city through the 1st World War (and even to this day, as their colony buildings continue to operate as a hotel) was largely beneficial. They remained staunchly neutral in the Arab/Jewish conflict, and ran schools, soup kitchens, and hospitals.

It wasn't a riveting read...but still kept
Nov 08, 2011 Leah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the historical perspective, but I'm not sure I agree with her take on the American Colony. An interesting story, no doubt, but the Colony did what the Church has done for years, use the Jews for selfish purposes without truly consulting the Word on their destiny. I was disappointed with Geniesse's summary of the people directly involved in the afterword, also.
Jeff Brailey
Aug 07, 2008 Jeff Brailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This history of the American Colony in Jerusalem was made more interesting by the fact that I spent a weekend in this hotel in 1984 when I was a member of the Multinational (Peacekeeping) Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai. Anyone planning to visit Jerusalem should stay at this five-star hotel and definitely should read American Priestess before m aking the trip.
Judith Hall Simon
American Priestess is an eye-opening biography of the family of Horatio Spafford, writer of the famous and beloved hymn It Is Well with My Soul. This book is well written, well researched, and well documented. Beyond that it is a good read in the study of pride, selfishness, and deception.
Jan 17, 2011 Lyvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-researched biography of a complex and intriguing personality. As a Jerusalemite, I would have appreciated more references to contemporary Jerusalem. Obviously, my comment would not apply to most readers of this book!
Apr 06, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating tale of the Overcomers with a brief history of the zionist movement in Jerusalem. I also loved since this was a library edition-a previous reader had editorialized some of the statements which made it even more interesting.
Oct 21, 2008 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an extraordinary story about Anna Spafford. It was disturbing and informative. However, there are a few events presented as true, which there is some doubt for instance about the Massacre at Deir Yassin.
Jan 20, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after returning from one of our trips to Jerusalem and it made the places we visited come to life--an incredible family history interwoven with profound world events.
Interesting insight into the allure of Jerusalem ad one sect's impact upon its society.

Extremely well written, great character insight and location representation.
fascinating book about the cult of Mother Spafford, a bunch of Swedish fundamentalists who ended up emigrating to Palestine at the turn of the century.
This was a very interesting story about something that I had no prevfious knowledge. It was a little dry, but overall a good read.
interesting book - lots of detail and hard to keep track but I learned a lot.
Oct 09, 2011 Traci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: learn-something
Weird. I don't know what else to say.
Sep 13, 2009 Sharon is currently reading it
Love this author....recently read Passionate Nomad about Freya Stark and loved the way Jane Geniesse told a story. This one is about Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem.
Tzipora marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2016
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Lisa Gabriel marked it as to-read
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Catherine marked it as to-read
May 28, 2016
Dalal AlYousef
Dalal AlYousef marked it as to-read
Mar 23, 2016
Heidi is currently reading it
Feb 27, 2016
Laura Mcgrady
Laura Mcgrady rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2016
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