The Aleppo Codex:
The True Story of Obsession, Faith,
and the International Pursuit of an Ancient Bible
Narrated by Simon VANCE
Published by HighBridge Audio in 2012
THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING READING CHALLENGES
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
Do you like a good mystery? Do you like “serious” books about things that actually happened? Do you have lots of commuting time? Well, these are three reasons you have to listen to this book!
I decided to teach myself Biblical Hebrew a few decades ago, with the desire to see what the text did actually say, cleansed from all adaptations to Western tastes. This, plus my fascination for anything bookish, made this book really intriguing to me. I had no idea I was actually plunging into a real mystery, still not completely resolved, and going for a really fascinating ride.
The author was just as unsuspecting when he started researching on the topic. He translates very well how things evolved, how one thing led him to another, deeper at each step into nothing less than an international nest of vipers.
If you read about the Aleppo Codex (commonly known as The Crown of Aleppo, or simply The Crown) a few decades ago, you probably learned it had been mostly burnt and lost. Well, the reality is quite different.
The end of the book is a bit sad, as the author reflects on the human condition and what its ugly characteristics made a people do to its own sacred book. But this good be a good invitation to reflect on our own behavior, at the social and personal level.
As I write this review, we know about terrible things happening in Aleppo. It is very sad to know that some famous very old neighborhoods of this ancient pearl of the Middle East have just burnt down. Another sad example of what we humans can do to our history and people.
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE AUDIO PRODUCTION
What can I add to the magical name of Simon Vance? This narrator can do about anything, he is brilliant here for this non-fiction mystery. His tone is both very engaged, rendering the aspects of mystery of this incredible odyssey of a manuscript, and detached, as is more fitting for non-fiction. Only fabulous and very experienced narrators can attain this balance. Besides, Vance embraces this narration with so much passion that I often had to remind myself that it was not Friedman’s voice I was listening to, but Vance’s.
I’m sure reading the book on paper is a very pleasant experience, but Vance’s narration adds spice to it, and makes it harder to stop listening until you reach the end of the book, though it is not the end of the story!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
A true-life thriller about the journey of one of the world’s most precious manuscripts—the 10th century annotated Hebrew Bible known as the Aleppo Codex—from its hiding place in an ancient Syrian synagogue to the newly-founded Israel. Using his research, including documents which have been secret for 50 years and interviews with key players, AP correspondent Friedman tells a story of political upheaval, international intrigue, charged courtroom battles, obsession, and subterfuge. [HighBridge Audio]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MATTI FRIEDMAN is an Associated Press writer. He lives in Israel. Here are many articles by him.
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