“The recent rise of religious images in political conflict around the globe has led to a surprising religiophobia, as if religion itself were inherently violent. To this simplistic point of view, Karen Armstrong has written an elegant and powerful response. “Fields of Blood” is not just a defense of religion, but also an exploration of the relation between religion and the history of violence over the centuries. It is a book both erudite and accurate, dazzling in its breadth of knowledge and historical detail. Though it does not give all of the answers to the curious relationship between religion and violence, it sets us on the right path.
“Armstrong begins with the obvious truth that religion doesn’t do anything by itself. It’s not a thing but simply a dimension of human experience.”
From a book review by David Shariatmadari in The Guardian:
“In her sprawling survey Armstrong shows that doctrine alone cannot give rise to intercommunal strife. Instead, it is usually a reaction to social upheaval and the new forms of structural oppression – gross inequality or overt persecution – that come with it. In the absence of these conditions, religion tends to encourage peaceful coexistence. To blame one or other faith, when the evidence shows so clearly that all types of violence have been committed in the name of all religions and none, is to supply an extraordinarily – you might say wilfully – superficial reading of history.
“The fact that her critics seem impervious to the evidence may be what drives Armstrong to produce ever more ambitious books…”
Reader reviews on Google books, with publishing details: http://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Fields_of_Blood.html?id=dyQomQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y