It is the most persistent myth of our time: religion is the cause of all violence. But history suggests otherwise. Karen Armstrong, former Roman Catholic nun and one of our foremost scholars of religion, speaks out to disprove the link between religion and bloodshed.
* Religion is as old as humanity: Fields of Blood goes back to the Stone Age hunter-gatherers and traces religion through the centuries, from medieval crusaders to modern-day jihadists.
* The West today has a warped concept of religion: we regard faith as a personal and private matter, but for most of history faith has informed people's entire outlook on life, and often been inseparable from politics.
* Humans undoubtedly have a natural propensity for aggression: the founders of the largest religions – Jesus, Buddha, the rabbis of early Judaism, the prophet Muhammad – aimed to curb violence and build a more peaceful and just society, but with our growing greed for money and wealth came collective violence and warfare.
* With the arrival of the modern all-powerful, secular state humanity's destructive potential has begun to spiral out of control. Is humanity on the brink of destroying itself?
Fields of Blood is a celebration of the ancient religious ideas and movements that have promoted peace and reconciliation across millennia of civilization.
About the Author
Karen Armstrong is one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun in the 1960s, and then read English at St Anne's College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. Her books include A History of God, The Bible: A Biography, The Case for God and, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress, has participated in the World Economic Forum and, in 2005, was appointed by Kofi Annan to join the High Level Group of the United Nations initiative 'The Alliance of Civilizations'. In 2008 she was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal and, in the same year, won the TED prize. In 2013 she received the British Academy's inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for improving Transcultural Understanding.
"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 *