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The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam Paperback – August 2, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031256936X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312569365
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Griswold may be the first to explain how global warming intensifies religious conflict. For as she travels the climactically vulnerable region near 10 degrees latitude, she sees climate change exacerbating tensions dividing 700 million Muslims and 1.2 billion Christians. These tensions emerge in probing interviews with religious leaders—Christian and Muslim—aflame with spiritual passions now rare in the secular West. Yet Griswold also discovers how the West has helped incubate the region’s interfaith hostility. It was, after all, Western colonizers whose arbitrary boundaries helped harden religious differences: in Sudan, for instance, the British established the tenth parallel as a partition between the Islamic north and the Christian south. More recently, it was the U.S.-led invasion of distant Afghanistan that triggered bloody clashes between Muslim and Christian mobs in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. And in Indonesia, Griswold listens to angry jihadists certain that the spread of fast-food restaurants signals a threatening Christian onslaught. Here and elsewhere Griswold teases out the threads of a complex fabric of religious doctrine, capitalist economics, ethnic pride, and power politics. Despite the complexities, Griswold retains her hope that authentic faith can yet transcend theological differences and foster peace. A compelling portrait of embattled human communities yearning for more-than-human succor. --Bryce Christensen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Eliza Griswold's The Tenth Parallel deals with a geographical slice of the Muslim world spanning Africa and Asia. With a sharp eye and equally sharp wit, Griswold dissects the events and issues that have gripped the region, uncovering their nature through memorable encounters and personalities. The story brims with insightful details and instructive lessons. Seldom does a book of this nature ranging over such vast terrain succeed in maintaining a steady focus and an engaging lightness of touch. In her hands, Islam resounds through the voice of Muslims, and religion lives through its followers and devotees. The book is a triumph of the human imagination and capacity for intercultural exploration.” —Lamin Sanneh, author of Whose Religion is Christianity?

“Eliza Griswold’s talent runs through this book like a blinding light. Through her daring travel, quiet observation, empathy and gift for language, she humanizes and clarifies conflicts in Africa and Asia that are often neglected or misunderstood. The Tenth Parallel is both vitally important and beautifully written.” —Steve Coll, author of The Bin Ladens

“Ingeniously conceived and beautifully wrought, The Tenth Parallel traces the uneasy fault line of two great faiths, which have so much bloody history between them. In exploring the potent tensions that underlie so many of the conflicts of the present age, Eliza Griswold gives us a rare look at how complex and interwoven these two cultures actually are.” —Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower

“In this revolutionary work, Griswold has dedicated the last seven years of her life to traveling in the world's least known places to explore the encounter between Christianity and Islam in Africa and Asia. She has brought back the unforgettable stories of Christians and Muslims along the tenth parallel whose faith is shaping the world's future. Griswold's courageous pilgrimage changes the way we think about Christianity and Islam by exploding any simplistic "clash" narrative. She returns us to the most basic truth of human existence: that the world and its people are interconnected.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Based on years of first hand experience and observation, The Tenth Parallel is a deeply impressive achievement, which so often challenges our common assumptions. The book will be immensely rewarding for anyone who wants to make sense of the relationship between those long-estranged sister faiths, Christianity and Islam. It should be required reading for policy makers, and for anyone interested in the spiritual dimensions of the “clash of civilizations.” —Philip Jenkins, author of Jesus Wars

The Tenth Parallel is one of the most important books you will ever read. Eliza Griswold combines the fearlessness of an investigative journalist and the bold vision of a poet to take readers on a perilous journey along the fault line between Islam and Christianity. No one else could have written this book.” —Reza Aslan, author of No god but God

 “Eliza Griswold is an intrepid and brilliant reporter. She has written a fascinating, nuanced account of Christian-Muslim relations along the fault line of the tenth parallel that puts the arm-chair punditry about “the clash of civilizations” to shame. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how religion is actually lived and experienced in Africa and Asia.” —Frances FitzGerald, author of Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth

“Eliza Griswold has long been one of my favorite magazine writers, and many of us have been awaiting this book with the fervent anticipation of a J. K. Rowling fan. And The Tenth Parallel does not in any way disappoint. It is brave, sad, informative, and deeply empathetic. I quake a little to think of what Ms. Griswold had to endure to come back with this book, and these stories, but we and the literary world are all the richer for it.”— Tom Bissell, author of The Father of All Things

“Eliza Griswold is a courageous reporter, a gifted writer, and an acute observer of life. In The Tenth Parallel she takes us on a crucially illuminating tour of some of the most volatile terrain in the world, acquainting us with people who are far away both spatially and culturally but whose fates are intertwined with our own.” —Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God

“Eliza Griswold, poet and war correspondent, takes her readers on a journey through the birthplace of terror. She marches into unspeakably frightening places, alone, with only her pen as protection. And then she speaks. The poetry of Griswold’s prose draws the reader in, even as she foretells great terrors to come. The Tenth Parallel is an important book by a courageous American.” —Jessica Stern, author of Terror In The Name Of God


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Customer Reviews

The book is extremely well written, very informative and very interesting.
karen w howell
This is essential reading for anyone interested in the conflict between Christianity and Islam taking place along the tenth parallel in africa and Asia.
Sharon Russell
Every American should read this book for a better understanding of the world we live in.
Carol Crystle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Ryan on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Eliza Griswold demonstrates an unparalleled expertise in issues of religion and politics. This book is a must for anyone who wants to go beyond the dominant rhetoric of religious extremism to understand the intricate political issues at stake in the local conflicts of the regions she examines. Griswold shows the personal human costs of regional power structures.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Robert Hammond on August 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had to stop reading The Tenth Parallel before bed because I couldn't put it down and was staying up all night reading. The stories Giswold relates are so powerful you have to finish each chapter once you start. Unlike so many book like this she does not rely on easy answers or come to confident conclusions but lets the reader sit in the uncomfortable accounts.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an on-site rendition of the `Clash of Civilizations'. Ms Griswold goes boldly to outposts in Africa and Asia to meet radical (and rabid) Christians and Muslims. By radical I mean people who may kill because of words written in their so-called sacred texts.

But the book goes beyond that, as Ms Griswold explores the why and the localities of these conflicts. She puts a historical and geographical context in her interviews. There are different manifestations of these `radicals' - some, like in Nigeria, seem to have exhausted hate and rhetoric and hopefully the truce established will not expire. What is also apparent with these religious extremists is their intolerance of liberal religious views in the West. Religions in the Western world receptive to Gays, pro-choice, woman's rights, general openness to sexuality ... are an apostasy to fundamentalist Christians and Muslims in the tenth parallel. There is another religion in the areas discussed by Ms. Griswold where there are no shades of grey. Sometimes we have a view of this in the U.S. when abortion clinics are bombed. But I don't know how the `born-again' evangelicals in the U.S. would fit in or adapt to Africa or Asia. As the writer points out, religion in these countries is a way of life because there is no government infrastructure that they can rely on for social and economic support.

There is among both Muslims and Christians in Africa and Asia a strong tendency to revert and restore a view of the way religion was several centuries ago - a literal view of the Quran or the Bible. So this is another clash with modernity. It is difficult to see a resolution of this religious conflict with modernity. It did seem that Muslims in Malaysia were successful at this.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jaylia3 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both insightful and intrepid, Eliza Griswold journeyed through Africa and Asia along the tenth parallel, the line of latitude 700 miles north of the equator where nearly 25% of the world's Muslims and Christians compete for resources, converts and political power. A poet with an ear for simple but evocative language, Griswold takes the reader through the dust of encroaching desertification as she attends an indigenous Indonesian wedding, meets with African rape victims, sits with a Muslim religious leader as he tries to resolve local disputes, and observes an election where voters line up in a barren field behind the candidate of their choice. After reading about her meetings with the homosexual and Muslim denouncing Anglican Bishop Akinola of Nigeria I still have no sympathy with his views, but I now have some understanding of why he thinks the way he does. Griswold's own empathy serves her well; believers on both sides of the religious divide open up to her. As an agnostic daughter of the former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Griswold even shares a flash of private connection with crusading evangelist Franklin Graham when she meets him in Africa--though they have very different ideas they are both PKs, preacher's kids, with childhoods that were a struggle between belief and rebellion. My copy of THE TENTH PARALLEL is tabbed with more than 30 post-it notes marking sections I thought were so perceptive and illuminating I knew I'd want to read them again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a secular American I was only dimly aware, from mainstream media coverage, of how extensive the war is between evangelical Christian sects and Islamic settlements, nor how diverse Islam really is. This book is very informative and a real eye - opener.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By carlotta mis capua on August 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is very intresting if you are intrested in where we are living, and how: what is happening far away from us, far away from television, far away from our stereotypes?. Is religion the real issue of some great conflicts round the world?.
I like the way Eliza Griswold went to see with her eyes what is happening in Africa and Asia, in common people life, and ho w she can mix history, research, journalism and vivid images of what she experiences and saw.
Religion is not the only issue of this long travelling around the world, where islam and cristiany meet and arrive and clash, in so long time and so different ways. There is so much to tell about economy and geography and education in this slow reportage and essay with no thesis and no answers.
As somebody said: geography is a destiny.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Coldsteel7 on February 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In light of recent breaking news in Egypt, another major news story from neighboring Sudan has been largely gone unnoticed. A few days before the Egyptian story escalated to the continuous news-ticker, Southern Sudan voted in a referendum for independence. This quest for independence was documented in the recently released The Tenth Parallel, which examines the interactions of Islam and Christianity along the Tenth Parallel. Eliza Griswold spent years traveling the regions along the tenth parallel, documenting personal accounts of friction between Islam and Christianity, which seem to be most intense along that imaginary line.

In The Tenth Parallel, Griswold explores the clashes between Islam and Christianity in Africa and Asia. She breaks her chapters down into a series of personal anecdotes which are arranged into segments based on nations. The African nations include Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia. The Asian countries are Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Griswold carefully explores the issues at the cellular level, interviewing leaders on both sides of the conflict wherever she travels. She draws interesting parallels between Christianity and Islam, drawn directly from statements made in her interviews.

Griswold is careful to create a delicate balance without taking sides. Griswold simply captures the political and religious climates in the various regions and examines the factors that benefit one religion over the other and socio-economic influences that drive much of the fighting. In addition to her brave and thorough reporting, Griswold manages to take her somewhat dry material and make it engaging. Griswold uses her incredible grasp of language to convey her subjects with enough dimension to allow the reader to visualize her own experiences.
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