In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

Macfarlane Walter & Ross Canada /Sept95
/Houghton Mifflin /US96
Trillium Award Nominee 1996


The Transformation of Toronto

In 30 years, Toronto has evolved from being a dull, “sanctimonious icebox” to one of the most vital and vibrant cities in North America. Robert Fulford describes the people, the ideas, and the tensions that shaped its emergence.

Toronto is a city where ideas have been important. Jane Jacobs, Northrop Frye, Marshall McLuhan, Glenn Gould, Margaret Atwood, and Robertson Davies have all had an impact and made it a more interesting place to live.

There is also the secret Toronto, the Toronto of hidden ravines and vast labyrinthine underground shopping tunnels.

For the traveller, Accidental City is an illuminating and lucid guide. For the citizen, it is a revelation. And for those interested in cities and in city-making, it is an important contribution to the debate on the creation of a dynamic and liveable urban environment. Robert Fulford is writing about Toronto, but it could be any modern city and the forces confronting it at the dawn of the new century.