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The Holy War


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About the Author

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs--including A History of God, The Battle for God, The Case for God, Islam, Buddha, and The Great Transformation--and two memoirs, Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. She has addressed members of the U.S. Congress on three occasions; lectured to policy makers at the U.S. State Department; participated in the World Economic Forum in New York, Jordan, and Davos; addressed the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and New York; is increasingly invited to speak in Muslim countries; and is now an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations. In February 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and recently launched with TED a Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public and crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion. She lives in London.


Judaism, Christianity and Islam--obviously central to Middle East crises today--were also at the crux of the Crusades nearly 1000 years ago. Maps. (Mar.)

Recent historians have convincingly demonstrated that 13th-century European governments institutionalized three forms of irrational bigotry that have tragically affected the modern world: anti-Semitism, anti-homosexuality, and anti-Islam. This important book, which brings the perspective of a student of theology and literature who also knows traditional political history, sees the medieval Crusades as the root of current Middle East conflicts. Such a view substantiates the historical interpretation. The book attempts a ``triple vision'' of the concept of crusade or holy war for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, tracing the religious origins of conflict among the three peoples to their differing interpretations of scripture, the secular origins to 19th-century nationalism and imperialism. The result is an erudite, balanced, and lucidly written study which shows that false images, ridiculous perceptions, and absurd demons have haunted all three peoples. A mine of useful information on Muslim-Western perceptions of each other, this book for the general reader can be beneficially read by scholars and Middle Eastern experts.--Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.

"A tour de force. . . . Any reader will come away from this book with a better frame of reference for assessing today's headlines." --The Kansas City Star "Holy War brings compassion, objectivity, breadth, and imagination to the most urgent crisis of our time." --The Boston Phoenix "Erudite, balanced, and lucidly written. . . . [Provides] a mine of useful information on Muslim-Western perceptions of each other. . . . An important book." --Library Journal

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