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Sacred Causes: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al Qaeda Paperback – 1 Oct 2007

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Sacred Causes: Religion and Politics from the European Dictators to Al Qaeda + Earthly Powers: The Conflict between Religion & Politics from the French Revolution to the Great War + Blood and Rage: A Cultural history of Terrorism
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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (1 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007195753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007195756
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Burleigh was born and educated in London. He was an academic for eighteen years before deciding to write full-time in 2001. He has won three major film awards for television documentaries (including 'Selling Murder' which won a BFI award) as well as the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. He is married and lives in central London although he travels extensively, particularly in Asia. In 2012 he won the Nonino International Master of His Time Prize. His new book, Small Wars, Faraway Places: The Genesis of the Modern World 1945-1965 will be published in 2012 by Macmillan.

Product Description


‘Compelling…hugely ambitious…Burleigh is a writer who pulls no punches and seldom leaves a difficult question unasked.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Michael Burleigh forged a formidable reputation as a historian of Germany and consolidated it with “Earthly Powers”…“Sacred Causes” takes the story up to the present day. Its first half addresses in masterly fashion the relationship between the churches and the totalitarians…impressive…formidable…his book deserves the widest possible readership.’ Sunday Times

‘A superbly sweeping read, very sane on Ireland, and excellent on the present set of horrors.’ Daily Telegraph

‘In years to come, Michael Burleigh's two-volume study of secular hubris since the French Revolution may well be judged to be the most significant work of history published this decade…Burleigh is a fine and contentious writer and a hugely accomplished historian.’ The Observer

'Michael Burleigh is one of the most original historians writing today.’ Mail on Sunday

About the Author

Michael Burleigh is Distinguished Research Professor in Modern History at Cardiff University. He is the author of seven well-received books, including ‘Earthly Powers’ and ‘The Third Reich’, for which he was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By M. McManus VINE VOICE on 5 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
There are three things that you should consider before buying this book. Firstly, are you a general reader or do you have a genuine interest in religion and politics? Secondly, do you prefer "neutral" commentary, or to read through the lens of the author? Finally, do you have a better than average background knowledge of C20th politics? The answer to these questions will largely determine whether you buy this book in the first place, as well as whether or not you manage to finish it.

Concerning the first question, the book interweaves politics and religion to the point where only a genuine interest in both would be enough to sustain the reader's interest. The subject matter is "heavy" anyway, and this coupled with the book's length mean that only the most interested need apply. Concerning the second question, this is most certainly not neutral, with Burleigh's views abundantly clear throughout, no more so than in his chapter on Northern Ireland, with his views expressed with somewhat unnerving ferocity. Having said that, his frankness throughout is a refreshing change to many history books, with their historians desperately trying to walk a neutral tight-rope so as to be all things to all readers, but not Burleigh. As a result, the heavy subject matter is much more digestible, punctuated with his frank statements that can at time genuinely amuse.

Concerning the third question, Burleigh's vocabulary is aimed at a highly educated audience, and he writes in such a way that assumes the reader has a very good background knowledge of the C20th and its political history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alusalas on 25 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
I would have to concur with other reviewers here that this is an excellent book that does a fine job of bringing the reader through the tumultuous events of WWII and so on, including a fair and balanced and long overdue defence of Pope Pius XII, but falters on the subject of Northern Ireland. The author has hitherto been nuanced and balanced, and then suddenly can't contain his disgust and displays prejudices of his own, after hundreds of pages highlighting the prejudices of others. His disdain for all things Irish extends to Nobel Prize winning poets who are dismissed as "minor" poets and Irish television hosts and pubs and makes one wonder if the author has constantly been spelling certain Irish names wrong throughout his book by mistake or because anything Irish doesn't deserve his respect or attention. As excellent as the preceding chapters are, the Ireland chapter brings his entire thesis into question, not because he may or may not be right, but because it's so over-the-top and so extremely bitter. I actually agree with most of his points, but this is a historian who seems unable to restrain himself on one chapter and so harms his entire project. An extremely interesting book then leaves an uneasy taste. As one other reviewer has pointed out, the fault perhaps lies with the editor. As another example, when discussing the prisoners convicted of the Birmingham and Guildford pub bombings, is it not worth mentioning to the reader that these men and women were later found innocent, or does this historian assume we are fully aware of all facts involved? If that is the case, what else has he misrepresented throughout the previous chapters?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too often public figures claim unassailable authority for their barmy notions. This is a review of a representative bunch including Hitler and Karl Marx, plausible loonies all. The book bids us listen with detachment and rigorous attention to contemporary movers and shakers before bestowing our devotion. We are English and we can throw them down the front steps. In Europe they have prospered on sophistry and devious manipulation to gain respectability and support among decent folk unused to such radical action. Let us take care of our freedoms and let us not suffer salesmen gladly.
Brian Pickering
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on 4 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback
In this sweeping and comprehensive work, Michael Burleigh examines the role played by religion in politics and politics in religion from the end of the First World War until the Islamic terrorist onslaught taking place today against the free world.
It is written from a strongly Catholic perspective, and Burleigh puts forward a robust defense of the Roman Catholic church against charges that it did nothing to try to prevent the Holocaust.
One of Burleigh's most important contributions in this book is his outline of the sterling role played by the Christian Democratic Parties in Western Europe, in both helping their countries to overcome the evil legacy of Nazism, and preventing the spread to their countries of the equally evil Communist tyranny.
As a traditional Jew, I can say that my communitarian pro-traditionalist and pro-national self-determination outlook (and my belief in a socially responsible market economy as opposed to laissez faire libertarianism), is very similar to an equivalent of the Christian Democrat philosophy, and I believe to prevent a victory by the dark forces of Satanic Islamo-Nazism, a variant of this philosophy needs to be re-established.

Beginning with the rise of Nazism and Fascism in Germany and Italy,the author explains how the knee jerk reaction of the Left to label everyone to the right of them as a "Fascist" blinded them to the genuine phenomenon, and how Leftist parties refused to co-operate with the moderate and Christian forces to stop Nazism and Fascism, thus bearing some responsibility for the the rise of these regimes.
Already by the 1920s predictions abounded of apocalypse and the end of days.
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