Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence

16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 20 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780553545463. $55; digital download. REL
Neither a condemnation of religion nor necessarily a political commentary on brutality, Armstrong's (History of God) latest is a meticulously researched, largely nonjudgmental portrayal of violence through the ages and the many circumstances, religious and otherwise, that may have induced its use. Examining Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Judaism from their formative years to their current incarnations, Armstrong illustrates the part that each faith has played in the formation of states and the violence endemic to societies wishing to control particular areas. The author deftly reads this book as if she was presenting a particularly enticing course on the content, skillfully using changes in pacing and tone to keep her listeners absorbed. Like many nonfiction audiobook offerings, this work does suffer from its inevitable lack of images that doubtlessly would accompany the monograph or even lecture versions. Much of the text presents lists and names that are hard to follow without some sort of organizational structure or prior knowledge.
VERDICT Despite the overall excellence of both the text and listening experience, this program will be of limited appeal to patrons of many smaller collections, though it will appeal to individuals looking for an extensive discussion of the topic. ["A well-written treatment of the perceived connection between religion and violence that will appeal to the serious layperson seeking to understand the role of religion in the development of society," read the starred review of the Knopf hc, LJ 9/15/14.]

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