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WIU History Professor to Present New Book, “Jerusalem in WWI…” March 31 at New Copperfield’s

March 29, 2012

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MACOMB, IL - A new book on "Jerusalem in World War I: The Palestine Diary of a European Diplomat" (I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London, August 2011) will be presented by author and Western Illinois University Assistant Professor of History Roberto Mazza, Saturday, March 31 at New Copperfield's Book Service, 120 North Side Square in Macomb. Mazza will present two introductory sessions, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. The presentations are open free to the public.

Mazza, in his acknowledgements, wrote that he began "researching the life of Conde de Ballobar more by accident than a proper research. When I was working on my Ph.D. I literally bumped into the diary of the Spanish consul which came to be one of my most important sources in the attempt to discuss Jerusalem in the period of the First World War."

Through extensive research in the Spanish Foreign Office Archives in Madrid; the Italian Foreign Office Archives in Rome; the Anglican Archives, Lambeth Palace, in London; the Vatican Secret Archive in Vatican City; the Custody of the Holy Land Archive in Jerusalem; and the Latin Patriarchate and the Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem, Mazza's book gleans the recorded events Ballobar witnessed as well as his experiences and insights into late Ottoman Jerusalem. His diary also included a detailed account of local churches battles to control the city's holy sites, the spread of Zionism and the establishment of British rule.

Professor Eduardo Manzano Moreno, of the Institute of History at the Center for Humanities and Social Services – National Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid, edited the Spanish edition of the diary.

The diary's first English translation occurred in Summer 2009 when Mazza joined the history faculty at Western Illinois University. He met Foreign Languages and Literatures Department Spanish Professor Colleen Combs, who took on that task.

"I must say she did an excellent job, in fact, considering the way Ballobar structured his entries and the massive use of jargon, it would have been very easy to miss what the consul wanted to convey, Mazza acknowledged.

Reviewer of Mazza's book Dr. Norbert Schwake, a physician, historian and author, wrote: "The diary of the Spanish consul in Jerusalem, Conde de Ballobar, is a treasure for historians of World War I in Palestine. [Until now] it was a hidden treasure. This translation of the diary into English presents this treasure to the astonished public. From now on, this diary will be an indispensable tool for those who try to really understand the situation in this decisive period almost 100 years ago."

Mazza is a specialist in Middle Eastern history, teaching upper division courses and graduate seminars. His research interests include the late Ottoman history of Palestine and Jerusalem, Christian institutions and communities in Palestine and the impact of World War I in the emergence of the modern Middle East.

He has also published "Jerusalem: From Ottomans to the British" (I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London, September 2009), and has written articles and book reviews for professional journals, including Jerusalem Quarterly, Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Journal of World History, Peace and Change and Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism and others. Mazza has also presented papers at national and international conferences.

Mazza earned his bachelor's degree (2001) in political science at Bologna University in his native Italy, a M.A. in international relations (2002) at Bologna, a M.A. in government and politics of the Middle East (2003) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) – University of London and a Ph.D. (2007) at SOAR – University of London.

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