Making War in the Name of God

Making War in the Name of God

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by Christopher Catherwood
     
 

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Thirteen Centuries of Holy War.

Christian versus Muslim. Sunni verses Shiite. Catholic versus Protestant. Why does humanity make war in the name of God? From the first Jihads of the seventh century and the Crusades of the Middle Ages, to the wars of the Reformation and the sectarian terrorism of today, acclaimed scholar Christopher Catherwood traces the fascinating

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Overview

Thirteen Centuries of Holy War.

Christian versus Muslim. Sunni verses Shiite. Catholic versus Protestant. Why does humanity make war in the name of God? From the first Jihads of the seventh century and the Crusades of the Middle Ages, to the wars of the Reformation and the sectarian terrorism of today, acclaimed scholar Christopher Catherwood traces the fascinating history of holy war, revealing complexities and subtleties that are vital to understanding a subject that continues to divide us. The result is a fascinating look at the past that has forged our violent present-and a sobering look at the strange and terrifying connection between war and religion.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The clash of civilizations is really a clash of extremisms, the subject of this middling book on intolerance and its well-contents. Humans will always find an excuse to kill one another. One of the most effective is religion, and, writes Catherwood (History/Cambridge Univ.; Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq, 2004, etc.), "since most people alive today are religious in some form or another, religion is often the excuse made to slaughter others on a grand scale." Christians have killed Christians for as long as there has been Christianity, he notes; Muslims are busily killing Muslims today. Catherwood's grand theme is one that Christopher Hitchens might approve, save that in the latter's hands the story would have had some verve. As it is, Catherwood blends academic aridity with lecture-note insistence on the righteousness of his subject matter and himself, such that he avers that "it is important for you, the reader, to know where I come from" and takes pains to point out that "the Crusaders did not understand the basic tenets of their own faith," which surely would have come as news to Richard Lionheart and company. ("Holy war is wrong," Catherwood adds, rather meekly.) The author strains to hit an appropriate culturally relative note, suggesting that even if jihad really does mean war in the name of Allah, most right-thinking Muslims take it metaphorically. Some census figures would be nice on all this, for surely there are plenty who are at work on the basis of that earlier interpretation, just as there are plenty of their Christian counterparts who would mount a new Crusade given half the opportunity. In the end, knowing that there are bad Serbs and good onesand that the old Westphalian worldview is a thing of the past is not enough, and this book doesn't offer much more. No news for anyone who's read Steven Runciman or James Reston Jr., and too diffuse to instruct those who haven't heard the news at all.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806527857
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
09/01/2007
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.85(d)

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