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Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong
  

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence

History   

RRP £25.00

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Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times onwards, the author contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus' vision of a just and peaceful society; moreover, she demonstrates that the underlying reasons for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. ‘In the West the idea that religion is inherently violent is now taken for granted and seems self-evident,’ so writes Karen Armstrong in her introduction to this bold new book. She tells us that people constantly remark that religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history, but, as she goes on to say, ‘Obviously the two world wars were not fought on account of religion’, and yet people continue to blame the violent sins of the 20th century on religion. In fact, human beings have always had a propensity for violence and aggression, yet until the Great War this destructive potential could be contained. But with the advent of industrialized warfare and the all-powerful modern state, humanity has edged closer to the brink of destruction. Taking us from prehistoric to modern times, Karen Armstrong deftly manages her vast subject, and her conclusions will surprise you.
~ Julia Hamilton

Synopsis

Fields of Blood Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

Countering the atheist claim that believers are by default violent fanatics and religion is the cause of all major wars, Karen Armstrong demonstrates that religious faith is not inherently violent. In fact, the world's major religions have throughout their history displayed ambivalent attitudes towards aggression and warfare. At times they have allied themselves with states and empires for protection or to further their influence; at others they have tried to curb state oppression and aggression and worked for peace and justice. Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times to the present, Karen Armstrong contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus' vision of a just and peaceful society; moreover, she demonstrates that the underlying reasons - social, economic, political - for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion. While human beings have a natural propensity for aggression, collective violence and warfare emerged at a certain point in history when the invention of agriculture created a society and a state based on the accumulation of wealth. For most of history our destructive potential could be contained but with the industrialised warfare and all-powerful state of the modern age, humanity is on the brink of destroying itself. Vast in scope, impeccably researched and passionately argued, Fields of Blood is more than a corrective to the prevailing view that religion is to blame for most of the bloodshed throughout human history: it is a celebration of those religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted peace and reconciliation.

Reviews

Karen Armstrong's wonderful book certainly cleanses the mind. It may even do a little repair work on the heart -- Ferdinand Mount Spectator Karen Armstrong is one of our most perceptive and thoughtful writers on religion... Consistently surprising and illuminating, Fields of Blood should be read by anyone interested in understanding the interaction of religion with violence in the modern world -- John Gray New Statesman A fascinating and very accessible book... Fields of Blood is a must read for those who want to work for justice and peace. -- Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, University of Oxford Mind-boggling... we feel we are in the hands of an expert. Armstrong is doing us a great service -- David Shariatmadari Guardian Elegant and powerful, erudite and accurate...dazzling in its breadth and historical detail Washington Post Riveting... Armstrong is one of our most erudite expositors of religion... a rare mix of cool-headed scholarship and impassioned concern -- Sally Vickers Observer A powerful and important work of scholarship, synthesis and argument... It is also a remarkably pleasurable read -- Peter Marshall Literary Review A magisterial debunking of the secularist tale -- Nigel Baggar Standpoint A welcome counterblast... Excellent -- Jonathan Wright BBC History Magazine Her view of religion is broad and deep, identifying it both with a universal need for meaning, and with the human desire for community -- Ian Bell Herald Engaging... Makes its case eloquently -- Scott Appleby Tablet A hefty yet accessible tome that debunks myths, fires debate and helps explain some of the chaos in the world today Choice Magazine Well researched, insightful and revelatory... A compelling argument -- Dean Haigh UK Press Syndication Armstrong offers both a convincing rebuttal of some key New Atheist arguments, and hope for a better future Church Times Taking us from prehistoric to modern times, Karen Armstrong deftly manages her vast subject, and her conclusions will surprise you Good Book Guide A disturbing and refreshing view of 20,000 years of human society -- Kate Cooper History Today thought-provoking -- three stars Daily Telegraph Armstrong is doing us a great service -- David Shariatmadari Guardian Mind-boggling... we feel we are in the hands of an expert. Armstrong is doing us a great service -- David Shariatmadari Guardian


About the Author

Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, but then left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at Oxford. In 1982 she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. The best-selling author of over sixteen books, she is a passionate campaigner for religious liberty.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th September 2014

Author

Karen Armstrong

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Publisher

The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing

Format

Hardback
512 pages

Categories



ISBN

9781847921864

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