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Making War in the Name of God
     

Making War in the Name of God

5.0 1
by Christopher Catherwood
 

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As religious zeal and sectarian strife set the opening years of the new millennium ablaze, they ushered in the latest chapter of a story that began centuries ago. From Bali to Beirut, we have inherited an idea that is as old as religion itself: killing in the name of God.

In this engrossing book, renowned historian Christopher Catherwood vividly recounts a saga of

Overview

As religious zeal and sectarian strife set the opening years of the new millennium ablaze, they ushered in the latest chapter of a story that began centuries ago. From Bali to Beirut, we have inherited an idea that is as old as religion itself: killing in the name of God.

In this engrossing book, renowned historian Christopher Catherwood vividly recounts a saga of passion, prejudice, and imperialism that laid the foundation for our own troubled age. Beginning in the year 632, Muhammad-as much political leader and general as prophet-commenced the breathtaking spread of Islam that, under his successors, eventually conquered an empire larger than Rome's at its height. Even as this vast realm broke apart into Sunni and Shiite factions, the Christian retaliation-ruthlessly and unscrupulously unleashed in 1095 with the First Crusade-sparked a clash between East and West that continues to this day.

The pattern would repeat itself again and again with the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans, in which the same Islamic faith that had once been an institution for tolerance in places like Spain became an instrument of expansion; the wars of the Reformation, when Catholic and Protestant slaughtered each other in the name of the Prince of Peace; and the endless conflicts of the modern Middle East, savagely fought over by three faiths that all worship the same God.

As the author re-examines these devastating struggles, he answers questions that are timeless, vital, and unsettling. Based on exhaustive research and written with an unflinching, unbiased eye toward revealing the often painful truth, Making War in the Name of God unveils humanity's ancient habit of sanctifying bloodshed-and exposes a past that we forget at our peril.

Christopher Catherwood teaches history at Cambridge University in England and at the University of Richmond (Virginia). A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is the author of several acclaimed books, including Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq.

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)

Meet the Author

Christopher Catherwood teaches history at Cambridge University in England and at the University of Richmond (Virginia). A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he is the author of several acclaimed books, including Churchill's Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq, A God Divided: Understanding the Differences Between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, and Whose Side Is God On?

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Making War in the Name of God 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Moderates will like this book. Those who want their history visceral (such as Christopher Hitchens) will not.