Cry For Jerusalem is one of my client projects (a 4-book series). Book 1 was published last year by Stadia Books, Book 2 publishes late August 2020, and Book 3 is in work for publication Summer 2021.
About Book Two: Against All Odds
Two thousand years ago, men and women were driven to act by the same emotions, needs, and wants as they are today. In Cry For Jerusalem Book One, we experienced how such actions forever changed the world for Jews and Christians and met our main cast of characters. Yosef, Nicanor, Cleo, Sayid, and Miriam.
In Book Two, in this series of four, their epic saga continues its sweeping arc from Rome to Jerusalem, from Antioch to Galilee. Ancient history comes to life through the actions of historical figures, and events unanswered by history become plausibly explained. You’ll read of the Siege of Yotapta (Jotapata) where thousands of Jews died fighting Roman legions—against all odds—in one of the bloodiest battles in Jewish history, witnessed and chronicled by the famous Jewish historian, Josephus. You’ll follow the developing story behind the legendary (but real) Copper Scroll, considered “the most unique, the most important, and the least understood” of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This scroll describes the locations of the Temple treasure moved from Jerusalem to be hidden—assumingly—from the Romans (but has never been found). You’ll learn of the factions and dissension that weaken Jerusalem, and the intrigues within the Roman Empire leading up to the Year of Four Emperors and the civil war that would then shape the empire for decades. And that the Great Fire in Rome, started by Nero, still figuratively burned and had triggered a series of events that would end with the burning of Jerusalem and its Temple.
By the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the culmination of Cry For Jerusalem, Rome had much of the known world under its control. The empire reached its largest expanse in 117 CE under Trajan.
The empire encompassed an area of three-million-square miles and stretched from the British Isles across western, central, and southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. Its estimated 60 million inhabitants accounted for between one sixth and one fourth of the world’s total population. The empire was the largest unified political entity in the West until the mid-19th century. More recent demographic studies suggest the population could have risen to 100 million at its peak. Each of the three largest cities in the empire—Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch—were almost twice the size of any European city before the 17th century.
The Romans had occupied greater Judea since the invasion of General Pompey in 63 BCE. Many large buildings and a grand Temple complex in Jerusalem were constructed by King Herod the Great from circa 20 BCE until after well after he died in 4 BCE. After Herod’s death, the greater province was divided up into four tetrarchs ruled by Herod’s descendants, who functioned as Roman-controlled governors.
About Cry For Jerusalem and Book One: Resisting Tyranny
Cry For Jerusalem—a four novel series—is historical fiction based on the writings of Yosef ben Matityahu (Titus Flavius Josephus). Yosef’s (Josephus’s) work as a historian provides valuable insight into first-century Judaism and the background of early Christianity. He has specific details on the First Jewish–Roman War, which he not only witnessed but took part in at a high level. The story takes place from late 63 to 70 CE, a little over one-third of the way into a 200-year period of increased and sustained internal peace and stability for Rome, though not without lesser wars, conflicts of expansion, and revolts. This Pax Romana was first broken by the Jewish (Judean) first war of rebellion.
First-century Judea was a time of new belief systems, persecution, and economic upheaval. Ruled by Rome’s puppet-King Agrippa, the Judeans had fragmented into three factions under the Romans: the status-quo pro-Romans; the Zealots/nationalists, who wanted Judean and Jewish independence; and the Sicarii, a violent splinter group who not only wanted independence from Rome—once the revolt intensified—but also had a goal to kill pro-Roman collaborators.
Book One in the series is described best by two recent reviews:
“First in a four-novel series, Resisting Tyranny introduces readers to four unlikely friends brought together by a life-threatening accident at sea. A Roman centurion, an auxiliary soldier, a wealthy and soon-to-be-married noble lady, and a Jewish scholar form a bond of friendship that could save Jerusalem from the greed of their Roman overlords. But can they stop a war before it’s too late? The story sweeps across a first-century world that’s diverse, gritty, and laced with tension. Majestic and colorful landscapes such as Jerusalem, Rome, and the many places in between, both on land and sea, are richly detailed. I loved the maps that are included at the beginning. Sanford uses his characters well. Men and women have strong influence on the plot, including women who interacted with and changed their circumstances despite social constraints. Everything is supported by an incredibly well-researched foundation. The time period and social customs are delightfully developed… there is political and religious strife, moments of ancient beauty, and well-developed characters to carry the plot forward. Sanford is a talented author with an exciting new series to get lost in.”
—Historical Novels Review Issue 91, February 2020
“Four lives fortuitously intersect in this historical novel that focuses on the tension between Jews and their Roman oppressors in the first century…
“Yosef ben Matthias, a Jewish scholar, is tasked with traveling from Jerusalem to Rome as a representative of the Sanhedrin. He plans to petition the Roman authorities to release Jewish prisoners awaiting trial. Yosef is apprehensive about the dangerous journey but also excited to see Rome, long impressed by the discipline and sophisticated organization of those who rule it. He travels by sea, but the ship that conveys him is waylaid by a powerful storm, and he ends up floating precariously in shark-infested waters on a wooden plank. He manages to survive and, with the help of two passengers he befriends—Nicanor, a veteran Roman soldier, and Sayid, a Syrian boy—saves the life of Lady Cleopatra, a noblewoman promised in marriage to Gessius Florus, a prominent quaestor and tax collector. The three rescuers are rewarded for their parts in saving Cleopatra, whose best friend, Poppaea Augusta Sabina, is married to Emperor Nero.
“In this first installment of a series, Yosef comes to realize what a tinderbox the political situation has become. As Roman leaders become increasingly authoritarian and hungry for tax proceeds, Jewish militancy increases, setting the stage for a brutal confrontation, a historical predicament vividly and intelligently depicted by Sanford. And Nero, looking for an excuse to rebuild Rome, raise taxes, and consolidate his power, takes Florus’ advice to burn the city to the ground, starting the “most extensive and destructive fire that Rome had ever experienced.” The plot is as gripping as it is historically edifying, remarkably authentic, and rigorously researched. At its conclusion, readers will be left impatient for the book’s sequel. An impressive blend of historical portrayal and dramatic fiction.”
–Kirkus Reviews June 2020
Yosef, Nicanor, Sayid and Lady Cleopatra’s (Cleo’s) shared experience forms an unlikely bond of friendship tested throughout the four novels in the series. Was it fate, destiny, or some divine plan that brought these four very different travelers together during an extraordinary time in history and to witness events that have repercussions still today?
In Rome, the reader meets Emperor Nero and is introduced to the intrigue that permeates the empire. Nero—at the suggestion of Gessius Florus, and to serve his own purpose—sets Rome afire while shifting the blame on to the Christians. This sets events in motion to replenish Rome’s depleted treasury by igniting a war in Judea to steal the vast treasure believed held in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Yosef, Nicanor, Cleo, and Sayid experience the Great Fire of Rome and its aftermath. Then each separately returns to Judea, where their fates further converge. Yosef to report the release of the Jewish prisoners and to attempt to stave off the increasing militancy of the anti-Roman factions, hoping to find a peaceful resolution with Rome. Nicanor—having avoided the Praetorian Guard duty he did not want—to return to his beloved legion duties in Antioch. Cleo, now married and accompanied by her husband, Gessius Florus, who is to become the new procurator of Judea. And Sayid, glad to return to auxiliary duty in a land where he feels at home, is assigned to Lady Cleo and often thinks of Yosef and Nicanor.
In Jerusalem, the reader meets Miriam, Yosef’s sister, who survives a tragic attack by Roman soldiers that changes her forever. Turning her into something and someone she could never have imagined, which becomes a dark secret she must hide from her family.
In Judea, Gessius Florus shows his true colors. His oppressive actions are designed solely to squeeze more tax revenue and to heighten tensions between the factions within Jerusalem and Rome itself. He creates situations and events—including a massacre in Jerusalem shortly after Passover—that lead to chaos of conflict and the birthing of a full-blown war. All were intended as justification to steal the Jewish Temple treasure and to further his plan to keep a large part of it for himself and send the rest to Nero.
In Antioch, the reader meets Cestius Gallus, governor, and commander of the 12th Legion. Circumstances and the actions of the rebels forced him to lead his legion and allied forces into Judea for an ill-fated, ultimately aborted attack on Jerusalem and one of the worst defeats of any Roman legion during their retreat through the pass at Beth Horon.
Yosef, Nicanor, Cleo, and Sayid, along with their family and friends, play critical roles at a focal point in the history of Western civilization. For as the winds helped to spread the great fire in Rome, they also carried embers to Judea, where they threatened to ignite a conflict that would forever change the world for Jews and Christians.
In between the recorded historical events of that time, there’s the story of the people involved. The reader gets to meet them in Book One of Cry for Jerusalem: Resisting Tyranny, and in Book Two: Against All Odds, their epic saga continues as the war begins.