Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous books on religion, including The Case for God, A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam, Buddha, and Fields of Bloos, as well as a memoir, The Spiral Staircase. Her work has been translated into forty-five languages. In 2008 she was awarded the TED Prize and began working with TED on the Charter for Compassion, created online by the general public, crafted by leading thinkers in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It was launched globally in the fall of 2009. Also in 2008, she was awarded the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal. In 2013, she received the British Academy's inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding.
The author who gave us A History of God now gives us a history of religion's beginnings, explaining how belief began emerging in the ninth century B.C.E. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
It's not what one may expect from a book about the development of the world's religions: "Crouched in his mother's womb, he lay in wait for his father, armed with a sickle, and the next time Uranus penetrated Gaia, he cut off his genitals and threw them to the earth." However, the Greek myth of Cronus clearly illustrates Armstrong's main thesis, that the "simultaneous" development of the world's religions during what Karl Jung called the axial age, is a direct result of the violence and chaos, both physical and spiritual, of past civilizations. Armstrong, a former nun turned self-described "freelance monotheist," has enough background and personal investment in the material to make it come alive. Her delivery is crystal clear, informative and, though somewhat academic, easy for the layman to understand. Her voice is straightforward yet wrought with palpable concern. This reinforces the book's goals of creating a clear understanding of where religious developments have come from and explaining how today's "violence of an unprecedented scale" parallels the activities that created the "axial age" in the first place. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 16). (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A splendid book. . . . Lucid, highly readable. . . . Relevan[t]
to a world still embroiled in military conflict and sectarian
hatreds." --The New York Times "Masterful. . . .
Stimulating. . . . A tour de force."--The Christian Science
Monitor "The Great Transformation is Armstrong at her
best--translating and distilling complex history into lucid prose.
. . . Her call to rededicate our religious selves to compassion,
other-directed love and service is downright rousing." --The
"Remarkable and persuasive." --The Independent "Perhaps her most ambitious work to date. . . . Thoroughly researched and readable." --The San Francisco Chronicle