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Born Bad : Original Sin and the Making of the Western World - James Boyce

Born Bad

Original Sin and the Making of the Western World

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Published: 23rd July 2014
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RRP $34.99

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Published: 23rd July 2014
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'Original sin is the Western world's creation story'

According to the doctrine of original sin, humans are born bad and only God's grace can bring salvation. In this captivating book, acclaimed historian James Boyce shows how these ideas have shaped the Western view of human nature right up to the present. The legacy of original sin takes many forms, including the distinctive discontent of Western people – the feelings of guilt and inadequacy associated not with doing wrong, but with being wrong.

As well as an innovative history of Christianity, Boyce offers new insights into the making of the West. Born Bad traces a fascinating journey from Adam and Eve all the way to Adam Smith and Richard Dawkins in this sweeping story of a controversial idea and its remarkable influence.

About the Author

James Boyce is the author of Van Diemen's Land: A History and 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia.


Unexpectedly satisfying read


Great discussion starter. Useful to explore faith issues.

Barwon Heads


Born Bad

4.0 1


'The most significant colonial history since The Fatal Shore. In re-imagining Australia's past, it invents a new future.' Richard Flanagan

'Like the best history, Van Diemen's Land is not an artfully constructed narrative with the (inevitably inadequate) evidence banished to endnotes, but a dialogue between historian and reader as they explore the fragile sources, and the silences, together.' Inga Clendinnen

'The publication of Van Diemen's Land signals an entirely fresh approach to Australian history-writing . . . this is a brilliant publication.' Alan Atkinson

Praise for 1835:

'Anyone who calls Melbourne home – in fact anyone who calls Australia home – should read this book.' Peter Mares

'A first-class piece of historical writing. Boyce is a graceful and robust stylist and a fine storyteller.' Sunday Age

'What is wrong with me? This question has haunted the West for fifteen hundred years, but until recently it came with an answer – which was called original sin. Western people believed they were 'born bad' because they had inherited the sin of the first humans.' James Boyce

'This highly original and readable book shows how the Christian idea that we are all somehow fundamentally warped has helped to shape democratic politics, free markets, sexual anxieties and even debates about whether dead babies go to heaven.' Marion Maddox author of God Under Howard and Taking God to School

ISBN: 9781863956765
ISBN-10: 186395676X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 23rd July 2014
Publisher: Black Inc.
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.2  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.37