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Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence Audio CD – Audiobook, 28 Oct 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (28 Oct. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553399292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553399295
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 4.2 x 15.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,059,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a book defending religion against the charge that it is responsible for war.

I made that sentence deliberately vague because that is where the problems start. She says she is attacking the common notion that ALL wars are caused by religion. The trouble is, most people know that religion didn’t cause ALL wars. The question is how much blame does religion take?

She gives a good argument that things are not as simple as they first seem. Religion is often deeply infused into culture, making responsibility difficult to attribute. There is wisdom in that. Unfortunately she replaces one overly simple thesis with two more: that wars occur because men like fighting (her own words) and because nation states are inherently violent.

She shows interesting examples of religion promoting peace in India and China (did anyone doubt that there have been such examples?) What would be interesting to explore is whether western religions based on the idea of one true God have been more violent than eastern religions which are less jealous.

I couldn’t help feeling that this former nun is trying too hard to protect something dear to her heart. She even claims that jihad fighters are not motivated by religion, relying on a tiny instance of one or two reading a book on Islam for Dummies.

Atrocitology by Matthew White carried out a more impartial study of violent death throughout history. He found that 50 million people have been slaughtered in the name of religion. That is relatively small on the scale of mankind's atrocities, but it is still a lot.
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By Hande Z TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Armstrong returns to history and religion with, one might say, a vengeance. In this new contemporary perspective on the co-mingling of those two ancient disciplines, Armstrong challenges the perceived view that religion is the cause of violence in history. This basic objective may be the subject of semantic debate as to what counts as a major war and whether the author misses the point if one can show that many wars have a strong connection to religion. Squabbling over these issues will detract from the otherwise impressive and enthralling account of the role that religion played in the history of major conflicts throughout the world.

Armstrong holds the view that man is not inherently war-like, and that hunter-gatherers had neither time nor organisation to wage war because an army is needed to wage a war, and hunter-gatherers, she says, have neither time nor resources to raise armies. Wars arose only after human society turned agrarian. Armstrong embarks on a world tour beginning with India, explaining how violence inherent in early Indian religion was subsequently brought under control by the renouncers of violence. She expanded her account into ancient China to emphasise that the influence of Confucius and Mozi in reining the violent excesses of the Chinese warrior kings.

Armstrong then sweeps from the Far East to the Middle-East and examines the role of religion and politics according to Jesus, and from there, to the Byzantine Empire, the cradle of religious wars. Before proceeding to that most famous of religious military campaigns known as `The Crusades', Armstrong digresses to explain the `Muslim Dilemma' - how might Islamic justice be achieved in a belligerent, imperial state?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well, its a big read so I haven't finished it yet, but am very glad to have it. The delivery time and the condition of the book, both wonderful. Discovering the history and underlying facts of violence helps insight into the past and into what is going on now. What a task Karen Armstrong has taken on. One of her quotes, from John Fowles, writing in 1997 is a brief description of war as "a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships'. Plenty there to think about. If you have plenty of time to read, and are happy to take it in manageable doses, this is for you.
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Format: Hardcover
I am relatively new to Karen Armstrong and while I did know something of her history and had seen an exceptional lecture she gave, I had not, until Fields of Blood, read one of her many books; my discovery of her writing is a revelation to me; It is tempting to say, at this time, that Fields of Blood should be at least advised, if not compulsory, reading for anyone venturing an opinion on the current re-emergence of violence in the World attributed to religious intolerance, devotion or fanaticism. Ms Armstrong takes us through a vision of World history that sees the control of material and production resources, howsoever those resources manifest themselves, as being the route of violence, power, control and domination, while religion, in its many forms becomes a useful spectre that can 'carry the can' for our material obsessions. As a consequence the contribution that Faith and Religion make to the very humanity of our existence becomes ignored, degraded or obliterated in a sea of hatred, misinterpretation and misjudgement. The clarity and breadth of Ms. Arnstrong's research, her style of writing make this one of the most optimistic, dignified, well informed and instructive texts I have ever read. Karen Armstrong is a leading philosopher of her age and this book was a true privilege to read. "Fields of Blood" is strongly recommended whatever your faith, belief, religious inclination, political or social background.
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