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Matti Freidman THE ALEPPO CODEX US book

In Pursuit of One of the World's Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books


Matti Friedman

Nonfiction, 2012

Winner of the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the 2013 American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal 

Written a millennium ago, the Aleppo Codex is considered the most accurate copy of the Hebrew Bible. It was stolen by the Crusaders, ransomed by Jews and spirited from Jerusalem to Egypt, where it was studied by the great philosopher Moses Maimonides. Brought to the Syrian trading city of Aleppo, it was concealed in a synagogue for six hundred years. In November, 1947 a mob of rioters burned the synagogue, and the codex seemed to have vanished.

THE ALEPPO CODEX uncovers the trail that leads from Aleppo to Jerusalem and then to London and New York, through two thefts, a murder and a dramatic trial. The cast includes Mossad agents, antiquities dealers and collectors, rabbis, and scholars with something to hide. Friedman tells the riveting story of how the codex came back to Jerusalem, and what happened to it after that. Unraveling what had been an enduring mystery – the disappearance of some two hundred of its priceless pages – he comes to a startling and dramatic conclusion.

Rights Sold:

Australia: Scribe Publications; Czech Republic: Pistorius; France: Albin Michel; Germany: Herder Verlag; Holland, Lannoo Publishers (reverted); Israel: Kinneret Zmora; Korea: Gloseum; Russia: Text Publishers; Bitan; USA: Algonquin Books; Brazil: Martins Fontes


“The Aleppo Codex could be read as a thriller. It could also be read as a history of the Jewish people, or as a meditation on history and myth. This great book comes closer to containing everything than any book I’ve read in a long, long time.” ̶ Jonathan Safran Foer

“Brilliant…Highly recommended.” – Paulo Coelho

“[A] superb work of investigative journalism that reads like a detective thriller.” – The Wall Street Journal

“a compelling and thoroughly researched account” – The New York Times Magazin

“Friedman gives a masterful account of a major religious document . . . [he] delivers an atmospheric, tense story about the destruction of a sacred relic, raising inevitable questions about who owns a people’s historical treasures.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[Friedman] opened  a treasure box of history, mystery, conspiracy, and convolutions that would do any biblical thriller proud… Remarkable.” – Booklist, starred review

“A thrilling, step-by-step quest to discover what really happened to Judaism’s most important book . . . Many of most astute and well-earned revelations are also [the book’s] biggest surprises.”  – The Boston Globe

“Sharply etched . . . A carefully paced narrative of purloined Judaica.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Friedman’s account of how the Codex was taken from Syria in the 1940s, later to resurface in Jerusalem, although no longer complete, is full of betrayals, controversy and surprises – and raises larger questions about the ownership and preservation of historical treasures.” – Jewish Week

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