P. Richardson's Herod: King of the Jews and Friend of the Romans is a thorough study of Herod "the Great" and the beginning of his dynasty. The book doesn't read like a typical biography. Instead, it feels like a series of collected essays. Most of the author's attention is given to the obvious things like Herod's political savvy and his troublesome family relations. There is a lot of data including helpful maps, descriptions of things like Herod's family tree and the nations that neighbored Herod's territory, and even a chapter dedicated to buildings associated with Herod's architectural vision. Richardson interacts frequently with Josephus throughout the book, which makes it a worthwhile read for those interested in Josephus' presentation of history. The end of the book ties Herod's legacy into that of his children and their memory in early Judaism and early Christianity. For anyone seeking a well-written history of Herod that covers everything that seems to be most important about his life this is a good place to start.
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