Fields of blood: religion and the history of violence

By Karen Armstrong


Our foremost scholar of world religion debunks the most persistent myth of our time: that religion has been the cause of all major wars in history.

Religions and their followers are inherently violent – or so the popular atheist claim goes. But here Karen Armstrong shows that the true reasons for war and violence in our history often had very little to do with religion.

Human beings have always had a natural propensity for aggression. Yet military violence and social oppression actually emerged when the invention of agriculture created a society based upon the accumulation of wealth. For most of history this destructive potential could be contained but with industrialised warfare and the all-powerful modern state, humanity is on the brink of destroying itself.

Taking us on a journey from prehistoric times to the present, Karen Armstrong contrasts medieval crusaders and modern-day jihadists with the pacifism of the Buddha and Jesus’s vision of a just and peaceful society. Fields of Blood is a corrective to the widespread condemnation of faith as violent; it is an impeccably researched and passionately argued celebration of those religious ideas and movements that have opposed war and aggression and promoted equality, peace and reconciliation.

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