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The New Jerusalem

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

“On the road to Cairo one may see twenty groups exactly like that of the Holy Family in the pictures of the Flight into Egypt; with only one difference. The man is riding on the ass.”

“The real mistake of the Muslims is something much more modern in its application than any particular passing persecution of Christians as such. It lay in the very fact that they did think they had a simpler and saner sort of Christianity, as do many modern Christians. They thought it could be made universal merely by being made uninteresting. Now a man preaching what he thinks is a platitude is far more intolerant than a man preaching what he admits is a paradox. It was exactly because it seemed self-evident, to Muslims as to Bolshevists, that their simple creed was suited to everybody, that they wished in that particular sweeping fashion to impose it on everybody.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .night; with the shadows that gather tinder the narrow Gate of Humility; and beside it, blank as daybreak and abrupt as an abyss, the broad road that has led already to destruction.

The gap remains like a gash, a sort of wound in the walls; but it only strengthens by contrast the general sense of their continuity. Save this one angle where the nineteenth century has entered, the vague impression of the thirteenth or fourteenth century rather deepens than dies away. It is supported more than many would suppose even by the figures that appear in the gateways or pass in procession under the walls. The brown Franciscans and the white Dominicans would alone give some colour to a memory of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem; and there are other examples and effects which are less easily imagined in the West. Thus as I look down the street, I see coming out from under an archway a woman wearing a high white head-dress very like those we have all seen in a hundred pictures o. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Ostensibly a travelogue, or possibly an essay on Zionism, The New Jerusalem is most powerful as a eulogy on the Middle Ages and the true end of the Roman Empire. If you ever wondered why a king so noble as Richard the Lionheart could abandon England for one of those dreadfully barbaric Crusades,...more

What can I say. Chesterton could write about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and could make it riveting.

I did not finish it but loved his commentary on passing through Egypt. His reflections on the faiths of he region are as applicable today as they were then. The imagery is vivid. The setting is 100 years ago so much has changed but as history goes mans heart is strikingly similar.

I still got som...more

The "New Jerusalem" is the Jerusalem newly liberated from the Turks. This book is Chesterton's account of his journey there, very shortly after the end of the Great War.

The book reminds me more than any other Chesterton book I have read that he started out as a painter. In the early part of the...more

Observational writing by GKC on what he witnessed in the middle east, masterfully contrasts cultural implications of the clash of religions and the clash of religion with the broad religion of modernity that most are now born into; fascinating descriptions, poignant illustrations. Everything you...more

Chesterton takes a trip to Jerusalem, and talks about what he sees. More importantly, he speaks about what these things he sees make him think about. This book is a lengthy discourse about the Middle East, the relationships between East and West, and relationships between the various religions.


This was my third Chesterton book, and although I enjoyed it, I don't think I would recommend it to anyone unless they understood exactly what they were getting into and were looking for exactly that thing. In Chesterton's own words, "This book is only an uncomfortably large notebook … the notes...more

It strikes us as odd that a nail should be so valuable or so vivid to the imagination. And yet, to men so close to Calvary, even nails are not entirely commonplace.

This is a series of barely-connected essays dealing with Chesterton’s travels to Jerusalem in 1919, a couple of years after the Balfo...more

Recommended to anyone who is extremely interested in Middle East politics or life. General Chesterton fans may or may not find this interesting.

Chesterton offers some interesting and poetical insights into the world of the Middle East. While I think many of these observations are profound and sti...more

I like the spiritual idea of the new Jerusalem. The realities of the earthly Jerusalem are sketched here in a painterly way by Gilbert Chesterton. He has an eye and appreciation for the poetic but also a sharp mind that turned to social criticism and commentary iby the issues contemporary to the...more

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