Lesley Hazleton

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Lesley Hazleton (born 1945) is a British-American author whose work focuses on the intersection of politics, religion, and history, especially in the Middle East. She reported from Israel for Time, and has written on the Middle East for numerous publications including The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The Nation, and The New Republic.[1]

Hazleton was born in England but became a United States citizen in 1994. She was based in Jerusalem from 1966 to 1979 and in New York City from 1979 to 1992, when she moved to her current home in Seattle WA, originally to get her pilot's license. She has two degrees in psychology (B.A. Manchester University, M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem).[2]

She has described herself as "a Jew who once seriously considered becoming a rabbi, a former convent schoolgirl who daydreamed about being a nun, an agnostic with a deep sense of religious mystery though no affinity for organized religion".[3] "Everything is paradox," she has said. "The danger is one-dimensional thinking".[4]

In April 2010, she began blogging as The Accidental Theologist,[5] casting "an agnostic eye on religion, politics, and existence."[6] In September 2011, she received The Stranger's Genius Award in Literature [7] and in fall 2012, she was the Inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at Town Hall Seattle.[8]

Her biography of Muhammad was published by Riverhead Books in January, 2013.[9]


TED.com has video of two of her talks:

-- TEDGlobal 2013: The Doubt Essential To Faith. Thumbnail: "When Lesley Hazleton was writing a biography of Muhammad, she was struck by something: The night he received the revelation of the Koran, according to early accounts, his first reaction was doubt, awe, even fear. And yet this experience became the bedrock of his belief. Hazleton calls for a new appreciation of doubt and questioning as the foundation of faith -- and an end to fundamentalism of all kinds." [10]

-- TEDxRainier 2011: On Reading the Koran. Thumbnail: "Lesley Hazleton sat down one day to read the Koran. And what she found -- as a non-Muslim, a self-identified "tourist" in the Islamic holy book—wasn't what she expected. With serious scholarship and warm humor, Hazleton shares the grace, flexibility and mystery she found, in this myth-debunking talk." [11]


On Middle East culture, history, politics, and religion:

  • The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad [12] (New York Times Editors' Choice)
  • After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split [13] (Finalist: 2010 PEN-USA book award.)[14]
  • Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen [15] (Finalist: 2008 Washington Book Award.)[16]
  • Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography [17] (Winner: 2005 Washington Book Award.)[18]
  • Jerusalem, Jerusalem: A Memoir of War and Peace, Passion and Politics [19] (Winner: 1987 American Jewish Committee/Present Tense Book Award).[20]
  • Where Mountains Roar: a Personal Report from the Sinai [21]
  • Israeli Women: The Reality Behind the Myths [22]

Her other books include:

  • England, Bloody England: An Expatriate's Return [23]
  • Confessions of a Fast Woman [24]
  • Driving to Detroit: An Automotive Odyssey [25]


  1. ^ http://thefirstmuslim.com/?page_id=9
  2. ^ "About the author." 'After the Prophet.' 2009.<http://www.aftertheprophet.com>
  3. ^ Seattle Times 10/26/07
  4. ^ Publishers Weekly 5/21/07
  5. ^ Hazleton, Lesley. "The Accidental Theologist". Retrieved 13 Jan 2011. 
  6. ^ The Accidental Theologist/Who Is the AT?<http://accidentaltheologist.com/about/>
  7. ^ http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/lesley-hazleton/Content?oid=9936684
  8. ^ http://townhallseattle.org/?s=Lesley+hazleton+&searchsubmit=Find
  9. ^ http://thefirstmuslim.com/
  10. ^ http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazleton_the_doubt_essential_to_faith.html
  11. ^ http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazelton_on_reading_the_koran.html
  12. ^ http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-59448-728-6
  13. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (2009). After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split. Doubleday. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-385-52393-6. 
  14. ^ PEN-USA<http://www.penusa.org/node/149>
  15. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (2007). Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen. Doubleday. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-385-51614-3. 
  16. ^ Seattle Public Library<http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_leaders_washingtoncenter_awardwinners>
  17. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (2004). Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother. Bloomsbury. p. 256. ISBN 978-1-58234-236-8. 
  18. ^ Seattle Public Library<http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_leaders_washingtoncenter_awardwinners>
  19. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1986). Jerusalem, Jerusalem: A Memoir of War and Peace, Passion and Politics. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-14-010244-4. 
  20. ^ New York Times<http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/11/books/awards-for-books-with-jewish-themes.html>
  21. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1980). Where Mountains Roar: a Personal Report from the Sinai. Holt Rinehart and Winston. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-03-045321-2. 
  22. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1979). Israeli Women: The Reality Behind the Myths. Simon and Schuster. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-671-22531-5. 
  23. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1990). England, Bloody England: An Expatriate's Return. Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-87113-329-8. 
  24. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1990). Confessions of a Fast Woman. Addison Wesley Publishing Company. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-201-63204-0. 
  25. ^ Hazleton, Lesley (1998). Driving to Detroit : An Automotive Odyssey. Free Press. p. 320. ISBN 978-0-684-83987-5. 

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