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Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness Hardcover – March, 1990


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879755784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879755782
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Eric Breitenstein on February 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
All people, religious or not, should read this book. Mr. Haught does a wonderful job of describing the horrors of what people will do to defend their gods. This is a book that will make anyone think twice about asserting that religion is only benevolent. Not that religion has no good, neither me nor Haught assert that, but we must all never allow ourselves to slide back to the smoke filled days of the Inquisition. The fact that this book discusses modern religious strife shows that holy hatred is not something of the past. It walks among us today, a shadow in the light of reason. We are not here to kill each other, unfortunately most people don't seem to agree. Thus our secular state: The first amendment doesn't protect us from God, it protects us from His followers. Unless you think Iran is a nice place to live, you'll believe in church-state separation after you read this.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By mrgrieves08 on July 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very useful and enlightening guide to the history of religion, and its accompanying violence. In this expose Haught plays no favorites in exposing the crimes and inhumanities of Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, Jews, and of course Catholics and Protestants. One of the striking things about this book is that it provides a revealing look into the nature of religious violence, and offers some valuable insights into the continuing religious violence and genocide today. Although practically everyone knows about the extermination of the Jews in WWII, few people think about why it happened. After reading this book, you will have a much better understanding about this horrible chapter in history. Afterall Germany was not an Atheistic country, it was strongly Protestant, what happened was the horrible result of centuries of built up hatred, caused ultimately by religion.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bradley P. Rich on August 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is scary! To read the assembled horrors that organized religion has visited on mankind is terrifying. This book covers all of the major religions, not just the familiar Christian tales of witchcraft and the Inquisition. However, note: it is just an introduction and is written on a pretty basic level. It would make a great junior high school text, except you can't imagine who would teach it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By tuesday next on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
First off, let me say that I am an atheist and feel that religion is the most destructive human invention ever devised. Therefore, I was looking forward to reading this book. But for me it was rather disappointing.

As I was reading the book, I felt as though I was reading a student's term paper. The author covers numerous religious groups or time periods but in a very superficial manner. As a couple of reviewers already mentioned, the book is only 234 pages (243 with the biblio), 24 of those are full page illustrations (I know, the cover states "An Illustrated History") and the pages have unusually wide margins. In fact, the size of the margins was the first thing I noticed when I started to read the book. It's almost as though Haught didn't have enough material to fill enough pages to warrant publication. But even from what material is in the book, it is obvious that this book could have much longer and more detailed, giving it a more scholarly presentation.

Personally, I think that if an author is going to write about a controversial subject, it needs to be backed up with properly referenced facts. This book does not even come close. There is a section at the end of the book that the author calls a Bibliography but then he writes, "The following is a selected reading list, by topic." So does that mean that the books listed were used by the author as references or are some of these books just recommendations? It is rather difficult to tell because Haught uses no footnote notation. He repeatedly presents statements as fact, including historical information and figures (as in the number of deaths). He also has many direct quotes that have no reference. For example, the cover of the book highlights one corner and states, "Includes the 9-11-01 terrorist attack...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William H. DuBay on November 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The secular humanists have long pointed out the disconnect between religion and morality. This is a quick introduction to the violent side of religion.
It is important these days to be familiar with the fact that Christianity, known as a religion of few gods and great violence, leads all the religions in the numbers of deaths it has caused. For almost 20 centuries, murder and torture was an official instrument of policy of the Catholic Church. Atrocities committed on behalf of religion were a main cause of the Protestant Reformation and the furious wars that followed resulting in the deaths of millions in Europe.
It is difficult to understand the strong attitudes of our founding fathers about the need to control religion and keep it separate from state power without being familiar with the history reviewed in this book.
If I have any fault with this book is that it ignores the violence perpetrated by Christians before the Crusades and even before Constantine. From the beginning, Christian leaders used violence as an instrument of policy. Early bishops often sent mobs of monks and thugs out to murder their rivals. St. Augustine sanctioned the use of force to bring pagans into the Church. He preached to landowners, telling them to hunt down the servants on their land and kill them if they did not submit to baptism. Historians have documented the effects of these practices, which culminated in the 6th-century order by Justinian that made pagan religion a capital offense. No one knows how many were put to death. For several centuries, the church was bent on destroying every vestige of pagan temples, books, libraries, schools, sanctuaries, and philosophy. As a result the teachings of the great scholars such as Plato and Aristotle were lost to the West until the 15th century.
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