Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (Paperback)
With a new postscript
In these times of rising geopolitical chaos, the need for mutual understanding between cultures has never been more urgent. Religious differences are seen as fuel for violence and warfare. In these pages, one of our greatest writers on religion, Karen Armstrong, amasses a sweeping history of humankind to explore the perceived connection between war and the world’s great creeds—and to issue a passionate defense of the peaceful nature of faith.
With unprecedented scope, Armstrong looks at the whole history of each tradition—not only Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism. Religions, in their earliest days, endowed every aspect of life with meaning, and warfare became bound up with observances of the sacred. Modernity has ushered in an epoch of spectacular violence, although, as Armstrong shows, little of it can be ascribed directly to religion. Nevertheless, she shows us how and in what measure religions came to absorb modern belligerence—and what hope there might be for peace among believers of different faiths in our time.
About the Author
Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religion, including The Case for God, A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation, as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public, crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It was launched globally in the fall of 2009. Also in 2008, she was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal. In 2013, she received the British Academy’s inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding.
“Elegant and powerful. . . . Both erudite and accurate, dazzling in its breadth of knowledge and historical detail.” —The Washington Post
“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.” —The New Republic
“Convincing. . . . Careful, fair and true.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Makes a powerful case. . . . The argument is what matters, and hers is strong enough to change minds.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A compelling examination of the true forces underlying religious violence.” —The Huffington Post
“Written in a lucid and fleet prose. . . . [Armstrong is] one of the keenest minds working on understanding the role religion plays in cultures around the globe.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Panoramic work. . . . Enjoyable and informative.” —Salon
“A valuable, readable rebuttal of a pernicious contemporary myth. . . . Armstrong goes through the centuries and assorted cultures to demonstrate again and again how religious principles and religious leaders were co-opted to support warfare.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A tour-de-force of the history of the world’s major religions. . . . Fields of Blood is thought-provoking as it examines one of the more fascinating elements of human civilization.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Armstrong is doing us a great service. . . . We feel we are in the hands of an expert.” —The Guardian (London)
“Riveting . . . [A] mighty offering . . . Armstrong is one of our most erudite expositors of religion.” —The Observer (London)
“Provocative and supremely readable. . . . Bracing as ever, [Armstrong] sweeps through religious history around the globe and over 4,000 years to explain the yoking of religion and violence and to elucidate the ways in which religion has also been used to counter violence.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Epic in scale . . . A comprehensive and erudite study of the history of violence in relation to religion . . . An intriguing read, useful resource and definitive voice in defense of the divine in human culture.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A well-written historical summary of what have traditionally been viewed as ‘religious’ wars, showing convincingly that in pretty much all cases it was not so much religion as it was political issues that fueled the conflict.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Armstrong again impresses with the breadth of her knowledge and the skill with which she conveys it to us.” —Booklist (starred review)