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The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam [Paperback]

Karen Armstrong
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 April 2001

Britain’s greatest religious historian chronicles the rise and rise of fundamentalism.

One of the most potent forces bedevilling the modern world is religious extremism, and the need to understand it has never been greater.

Focusing in detail on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism from sixteenth century Spain onwards and Muslim fundamentalism over the last four hundred years, Armstrong examines the patterns that underlie fundamentalism. These evolve from the clash between the conservative pre-modern mind that is governed by a love of myth, and the progressive rational society that relishes change. Fundamentalists view the contemporary world with horror, rejecting its claims to truth, and a state of war now exists over the future of our culture. They are not terrorists, rather, they are innovative, existing in a symbiotic relationship with an aggressive modernity, each urging the other on to greater excess.

The Battle for God is original in its thesis and in its understanding; as a history of religious ideas it is fascinating, and as an explanation of one of the most destabilizing forces at large in the world today it is extraordinary.

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The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam + A History Of God + Islam: A Short History (UNIVERSAL HISTORY)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (2 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006383483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006383482
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

About 40 years ago popular opinion assumed that religion would become a weaker force and people would certainly become less zealous as the world became more modern and morals more relaxed. But the opposite has proven true, according to theologian and author Karen Armstrong (A History of God), who documents how fundamentalism has taken root and grown in many of the world's major religions, such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions. Reacting to a technologically driven world with liberal Western values, fundamentalists have not only increased in numbers, they have become more desperate, claims Armstrong, who points to the Oklahoma City bombing, violent anti-abortion crusades, and the assassination of President Yitzak Rabin as evidence of dangerous extremes.

Yet she also acknowledges the irony of how fundamentalism and Western materialism seem to urge each other on to greater excesses. To "prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try and understand the pain and perception of the other side," she pleads. With her gift for clear, engaging writing and her integrity as a thorough researcher, Armstrong delivers a powerful discussion of a globally heated issue. Part history lesson, part wake-up call, and mostly a plea for healing, Armstrong's writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘The quality of this remarkable book lies as much in its detail as in its sweeping vision’
Daily Telegraph

‘Armstrong displays all her usual talents: she has an eye for colourful evidence, a wonderful gift for clarity of exposition and an unerring sense of pace and voice and narrative.’
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Literary Review

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to understand fundamentalism 10 July 2002
I am reading this book with as much interest and excitement as any I have for some time. It is an absolute must for broad-minded and especially non-religious people who want to understand tha nature and history of modern Fundamentalism. What is quite remarakable is the way the author integrates religious history with both past and contemporary political, social and economic history.
After a remarkable introduction she concentrates on four 'case studies', namely Iran, Egypt, Judaism and the USA. Althouugh she has obviously a special interest in Shii Islam, each of her studies is dramatic in the things one learns from it.
The book is also a remarkable work of research and scholarship.
Each day, I open the newspaper, and there is something there that is more easily understood from this book.
In fact, I believe, one of most important History books of modern times.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once again Karen Armstrong has produced a work of amazing erudition by exploring one of the most salient political phenomenon of our era.She traces the roots of modern religious Fundamentalism in the different historical experiences of secular modernity by the three monotheistic faiths.She reveals the common strands which have shaped these fierce reactions against the hegemony of the secular.She pointedly shows how, what she calls "mythos",is masquerading as "logos"and eventually degenerates into Ideologies of hatred and exclusion. Her analysis of recent political events in the Middle East and in America is illuminating.This is the voice of reason showing sagacity and sympathetic understanding. It is truly a remarkable book which is likely to get a much wider readership outside the UK.It deserves to be translated both into Arabic and Hebrew.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Book 21 Feb 2005
THE BATTLE FOR GOD is the story of the rise of religious fundamentalism, especially among Christians, Muslims and Jews. The subject is now even more timely than when the book was first published five years ago.
Karen Armstrong shows that religious fundamentalism is a relatively recent phenomenon.Religious fundamentalists feel threatened by the modern advances which are favored by secularists. The secularists in turn feel threatened by the rigid views of the fundamentalists. It is more important than ever for these opposing groups to find some common meeting ground. After reading Armstrong's book, however, I do not feel optimistic about this possibility occurring anytime in the near future.
THE BATTLE FOR GOD is a well-researched study of a complex topic. One inescapable conclusion to draw from reading the book is that religious fundamentalism is deeply entrenched throughout the world and it is a major cause of much of the planet's present unrest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story for the sake of mercy 14 Jan 2008
Armstrong always tries to find the stories behind events, and to stand in the shoes of all participants. Her choice to trace fundamentalism through several centuries and three different religions frames a search for unbiased understanding. She respects people's quest to find the fundamental roots of their religion. But she also shows the real consequences when people have tried to play God over others. She shows how people of all three major "religions of the book" face similar choices among different versions of their faith. Among these choices she urges mercy rather than control.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 17 July 2006
By S Fox
I found Karen Armstrong's book to be deeply involving and very moving in places. It has had a profound effect on my view of current events, even on my world view. I am really glad to have read it and would recommend it without hesitation to anyone wanting to look below the surface at fundamentalism today and really understand where it comes from and why. Superb!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars most remarkable work on religion 14 July 2006
Karen writes in such a convincing way that it is very difficult for anyone not to be moved by it. The most beautiful aspect of her books is that she disects religion very respectfully and does not oppose just for the sake of opposition. She does not mock religious feelings rather advocates what is good and rational. She accepts the need for religion but does not compromise on scientific rationalism. If one wishes to read a balanced view on religion then her books are must.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative, deeply researched book 28 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the complexities of religious Fundamentalism.
Amazingly thorough research has gone into it by Karen Armstrong. Its tightly packed wording was off putting at first,
but it is so informative and readable this became unimportant. I would have preferred larger print - the 5 stars are for
the content!
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4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating - though a little dated now 21 May 2012
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Karen Armstrong deals here with an important subject: the development and causes of fundamentalism in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, patiently taking the reader through a detailed explanation and analysis of each. This a very detailed work which can be heavy going at times for the general reader, even one like me who is very interested in the subject.

Written in 2000, this book obviously predates September 11th and the events which resulted from that appalling act of nihilism, but nonetheless provides a good understanding of the causes of the rise of fundamentalism, and the strong antipathy which has arisen in each of the monotheistic religions between fundamentalists and more traditional believers, as well as the complete lack of understanding or sympathy between many liberals, secularists and fundamentalists for whom the views of the 'other side' are often truly repellant.

Ms Armstong has used Egypt and Iran as her two main locations for the analysis of Islamic fundamentalist belief, and her conclusions are very relevant in relation to the Arab Spring - indeed this book rather predicts the fall of Mubarak and the rise of the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt.

Often fascinating, sometimes heavy going, this is an important book which should be read by all those who seek to understand the rise of fundamentalism and the consequences of that rise which continue to influence world events to this day.

An updated edition to include the events of the last decade would be very welcome...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading
I endorse everything in the 5-star rated reviews already published - this book is one of the best I have ever read. Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2009 by Ukhuman1st
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb review of a difficult subject
This book is excellent from start to finish. Karen Armstrong carefully and honestly describes the history of four regions of fundamentalism during the past two millenia:
-... Read more
Published on 30 May 2008 by Darren Simons
3.0 out of 5 stars This book misses out a millenia of fanaticism
Karen Armstrong is again as thorough as ever in her research into the fanatical side of religion. She is able to show how and why some sects became so radicalise - from the rather... Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2008 by J. Duducu
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed
Karen Armstrong's book does a great job of introducing the main religions and the potential perils associated with fundamentalism. Read more
Published on 3 April 2007 by Scientia quarens Intellectum
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Account of Fundamantalism, Short on Detail
The Battle for God is as balanced an account of the history of fundamentalism as I have read. Karen Armstrong traces the rise of fundamentalism in the three Abrahamic faiths. Read more
Published on 24 Jan 2007 by A. O. P. Akemu
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book
I can not recommend this book highly enough. Karen Armstrong clearly knows her subject intimately and it is presented with superb clarity and a total absence of dogma. Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2006 by Niall Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentalism
Karen Armstrong has a way of finding subjects that should be studied and not thinking very well about them. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2006 by Henry Ireton
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