** Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong


Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence is a weighty tome filled with prodigious academic erudition, from Gilgamesh to the Greek to the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. In it reside prodigious amounts of violence, which the author painstakingly shows seems to stem more from the general context than religion itself. She also shows that religion occasionally seeks to pacify the world, although not, it appears, anywhere near often enough to counterbalance the many times it seeks the opposite.

The whole thing was all rather overwhelming and long and tedious for me to get through — and I doubt very much if the people who believe violence stems mostly from religion, especially those who believe that Islam specifically incites to violence, would either invest time and effort in this massive book, or embrace what they read it in. So I’m not sure whom to recommend the book to.  Careful thinkers who somehow think that religion is the main source of violence and who can tolerate 400 dense pages with the details on that 678 schism?

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