Books about the Early Kings of Israel


The King David Report (Stefan Heym)

A novel that, like The Secret Book of Kings, takes a different point of view from the one presented in the Bible. From the Book Description: "In this retelling of the biblical story, King Solomon commissions Ethan the Scribe to write the official history of King David. In return for the finest cooking in the land and the wages of a minor prophet, Ethan must write a proper record, full of glory and battles, statecraft and honor--a tribute to David and, of course, to Solomon, his heir. But as Ethan explores the story, he finds another life hidden behind the iron curtain dividing past from present: the story of a David who seduced, lied, bragged, and plundered his way to power. Ethan wonders: which life should be reported in the King David Report? Written by one of Germany's most acclaimed dissident authors, The King David Reportis both an analysis of the writer's obligations to truth, and an astute satire on the workings of history and politics in a totalitarian state."

David and Solomon (Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman)

By the authors of The Bible Unearthed (see section on modern Biblical scholarship), a look specifically at what archaeology tells us about the time in which The Secret Book of Kings is set. From the Book Description: ". . . [T]hey do nothing less than help us to understand the sacred kings and founding fathers of western civilization. David and his son Solomon are famous in the Bible for their warrior prowess, legendary loves, wisdom, poetry, conquests, and ambitious building programmes. Yet thanks to archaeology's astonishing finds, we now know that most of these stories are myths. Finkelstein and Silberman show us that the historical David was a bandit leader in a tiny back-water called Jerusalem, and how - through wars, conquests and epic tragedies like the exile of the Jews in the centuries before Christ and the later Roman conquest - David and his successor were reshaped into mighty kings and even messiahs, symbols of hope to Jews and Christians alike in times of strife and despair and models for the great kings of Europe. A landmark work of research and lucid scholarship by two brilliant luminaries, "David and Solomon" recasts the very genesis of western history in a whole new light."

David's Secret Demons (Baruch Halpern)

A non-fiction comprehensive look at the story and personality of David. Read in conjunction with The Secret Book of Kings, this book looks at many of the texts that Yochi Brandes interprets in the novel. From the Book Description: "Halpern digs beneath the layers of tradition to understand David as an individual, as a person. The man he uncovers turns out to have been complex, ambiguous, and--above all--surprising. According to Halpern, the image of David grew over time. He was the founder of the dynasty that perpetuated the texts about him, and they progressively exaggerated his accomplishments. But in the earliest writings David remains a modest figure, as this book shows for the first time. To understand David as a human being, one must keep in mind that he was primarily a politician who operated in a rough-and-tumble environment in which competitors were ready literally to slit throats."

DAVID: THe Divided Heart (David Wolpe)

A deep reading of the Biblical story of David by one of America's most prominent rabbis.

The Life of DAVID (Robert Pinsky)

A biography of David written by the former U.S. poet laureate. Like The Secret Book of Kings, Pinsky's book pays special attention to the women of the stories. According to Booklist: ". . . Pinsky brings his learnedness, literary finesse, and flair for vigorous interpretation to a vibrant and imaginative portrait of David, the biblical warrior, poet, king, and, according to Pinsky, wise guy. In shimmering, metaphor-rich prose, Pinsky considers the peculiarities, paradoxes, and timeless significance of David's often baffling story from his golden days as a handsome upstart confronting King Saul in "gangsterish" encounters to David's wild years as a desert Robin Hood and ascension to the throne. Observing that David's indelible story of daring, desire, power, and survival would fit right into Homer and Shakespeare, Pinsky is especially discerning in his portrayals of strong and strategic women, including Michal, with whom David shared equally intense love and hate, and Bathsheba, mother of Solomon."

King DAVID: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel (Jonathan Kirsch)

This book is also available in an audio edition.

The Harlot By the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible (JONATHAN KIRSCH)

This book is also available in an audio edition.

The Secret Chord (Geraldine Brooks)


God Knows (Joseph Heller)


The David Story (Robert Alter)

A translation (and commentary) of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel by one of today's most acclaimed literary scholars and translators of the Bible.

Give Us a King! (Everett Fox)

A translation of the books of 1 and 2 Samuel in a unique style that attempts to stay as close as possible to the original Hebrew vocabulary and literary style.