The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade

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Harper Collins, Apr 29, 2014 - Religion - 448 pages
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The Great and Holy War offers the first look at how religion created and prolonged the First World War. At the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the war, historian Philip Jenkins reveals the powerful religious dimensions of this modern-day crusade, a period that marked a traumatic crisis for Western civilization, with effects that echoed throughout the rest of the twentieth century.

The war was fought by the world's leading Christian nations, who presented the conflict as a holy war. Thanks to the emergence of modern media, a steady stream of patriotic and militaristic rhetoric was given to an unprecedented audience, using language that spoke of holy war and crusade, of apocalypse and Armageddon. But this rhetoric was not mere state propaganda. Jenkins reveals how the widespread belief in angels and apparitions, visions and the supernatural was a driving force throughout the war and shaped all three of the major religions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam—paving the way for modern views of religion and violence. The disappointed hopes and moral compromises that followed the war also shaped the political climate of the rest of the century, giving rise to such phenomena as Nazism, totalitarianism, and communism.

Connecting numerous remarkable incidents and characters—from Karl Barth to Carl Jung, the Christmas Truce to the Armenian Genocide—Jenkins creates a powerful and persuasive narrative that brings together global politics, history, and spiritual crisis as never before and shows how religion informed and motivated circumstances on all sides of the war.


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User Review  - Steve_Walker - LibraryThing

On the 28th of June 1914 in the Bosnian capitol of Sarajevo a young Serb, Gavrilo Princip, fired a pistol at The Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, killing them both. His ... Read full review

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User Review  - ChuckNorton - LibraryThing

In "The Great and Holy War", Philip Jenkins, professor of history at Baylor University and one of the leading American scholars in religious history and the confluence of religion, politics and ... Read full review


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About the author (2014)

Philip Jenkins, the author of The Lost History of Christianity, Jesus Wars, and The Next Christendom, is the Distinguished Professor of History and member of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal, New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe and has been a guest on top national radio shows across the country.

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