Religion and the History of Violence
Our foremost scholar of religion challenges one of the most persistent myths of our time: that religion has been the cause of all major wars.
It is the most persistent myth of our time: religion is the cause of all violence. But history suggests otherwise. Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and one of our foremost scholars of religion, speaks out to disprove the link between religion and bloodshed.
* Religion is as old as humanity: Fields of Blood goes back to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers and traces religion through the centuries, from medieval crusaders to modern-day jihadists.
* The West today has a warped concept of religion: we regard faith as a personal and private matter, but for most of history faith has informed people’s entire outlook on life, and often been inseparable from politics.
* Humans undoubtedly have a natural propensity for aggression: the founders of the largest religions – Jesus, Buddha, the rabbis of early Judaism, the prophet Muhammad – aimed to curb violence and build a more peaceful and just society, but with our growing greed for money and wealth came collective violence and warfare.
* With the arrival of the modern all-powerful, secular state humanity’s destructive potential has begun to spiral out of control. Is humanity on the brink of destroying itself?
Fields of Blood is a celebration of the ancient religious ideas and movements that have promoted peace and reconciliation across millennia of civilization.
“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”
“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”
“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”
“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
three stars, Daily Telegraph
“Armstrong is doing us a great service”
David Shariatmadari, Guardian