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Dominion

By: Tom Holland,Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Narrated by: Mark Meadows,Tom Holland
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Publisher's Summary

Christianity is the most enduring and influential legacy of the ancient world, and its emergence the single most transformative development in Western history. Even the increasing number in the West today who have abandoned the faith of their forebears, and dismiss all religion as pointless superstition, remain recognisably its heirs. Seen close up, the division between a sceptic and a believer may seem unbridgeable. Widen the focus, though, and Christianity's enduring impact upon the West can be seen in the emergence of much that has traditionally been cast as its nemesis: in science, in secularism and yes, even in atheism. 

That is why Dominion places the story of how we came to be what we are, and how we think the way that we do, in the broadest historical context. Ranging in time from the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC to the ongoing migration crisis in Europe today, and from Nebuchadnezzar to the Beatles, it explores just what it was that made Christianity so revolutionary and disruptive; how completely it came to saturate the mind-set of Latin Christendom; and why, in a West that has become increasingly doubtful of religion's claims, so many of its instincts remain irredeemably Christian. The aim is twofold: to make the listener appreciate just how novel and uncanny were Christian teachings when they first appeared in the world and to make ourselves, and all that we take for granted, appear similarly strange in consequence. We stand at the end-point of an extraordinary transformation in the understanding of what it is to be human: one that can be fully appreciated only by tracing the arc of its parabola over millennia.

©2019 Tom Holland (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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A powerful reprisal of Western history

Tom Holland never fails to deliver an ambitious narrative stretching through eons of time. Perhaps like the film Cloud Atlas, a compelling vignette for every sub chapter serves to anchor lives and stories from one century to the next. The Christian story acts as the link that binds Antiquity to the Middle Ages and then onward into Modernity.

I congratulate his achievement as an apt culmination of decades of research in writing previous narrative histories such as Persian Fire, Millennium and In the Shadow of the Sword.

The narratives’ crescendo found in the final chapters anchors the modern world as we understand it to the legacy of Christianity. In elucidating vivid scenes of British Imperialism, Wild West fossil hunting and mid-century rock stardom, Holland captures a sense of radical social change, but nevertheless reinforces a narrative of progressive civilisational development.

None of the individual examples of Christianity influencing the modern world I object to as false. However, taken together I find slightly misleading. The nature of Christianity argued within this book is too diffuse to be pinned down as the prime causal agent. For example, if Charlemagne’s massacre and forced conversions the Saxons and Angela Merkel’s policy of mass refugee resettlement can both equally be classed as Christian acts it questions the concept as all possible human and political actions can now be in some way be classed as Christian.

Perhaps even more salient is the the ambiguous nature of cultural change itself. How can we say the cultural technology of Christianity itself is responsible for modern values when both events before and after its inception are relevant to our culture today. for example the unique developments with Protestantism which provides our notion of secular space is a contingent development within western culture of more recent origin, hardly the product of Christianity qua Christianity.

Nevertheless I highly recommend reading this book as it provides a whole host of historical intellectual and cultural developments that shed light on how and why modern people understand themselves in the way that we do.

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4 people found this helpful

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What was in the corner of my eye I now can see.

Dense, horrific, transcoding but most of all enlightening.
Highlights how the very thing we in the west may scoff at is the very thing that has helped develop of sense of fairness and equality.

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3 people found this helpful

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Imaginative work on Christian history

I very much appreciated this book, firstly describing particular episodes in Christian history, for example the Reformation, and showing how the ideas thrown up by them influenced the Western mind over many centuries. It was an ambitious undertaking, which largely succeeded, in my opinion. I found Holland a fine and entertaining writer, and the main narrator Mark Meadows did very well in putting the material across. I believe this book will be influential itself, in countering the notion that the power of Christianity is all in the past.

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Absolutely Brilliant

What a fantastic book / Audio could not stop listening. So much in there that I didn't even think about grown up as a Christian.
I'll be purchasing the book.

Thank you Tom

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History that helps us understand the Western World now!

it helped me understand the current situation in the Western World now. Some parts are so violent that they are hard to hear but still need to be said. It is very long so needs time and audio is is the best way. I really liked that Tom began and ended the book. The reader is very good. Katherine

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Derisive narrator

Good content but narrators voice is just dripping with derision. Especially when he reads in God’s voice from the Bible, he gives God the voice of a petulant child. Also when he narrates the Christian figures of the past. The author chooses the word “hallucination” instead of “vision” when discussing Christ’s appearance to St Paul and things like that but it’s still a relevant and probably important book. Most of the problem is the derisive narration.

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Profound critical analytical voice is a woke generation

Thank you Tom Holland for providing a work that will stand as a monument for Millenia to the profound stupidity of this current age, and as a light out of it.

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Awesome book!

This book has been a game changer for me in understanding so much about the world we live in. Highly recommended!

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Bland reading

I enjoyed the beginning when the author read, then when the robotic sounding narrator started I was disheartened.

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An Amazing Journey

Having been educated in Christian schools and knowing the Christian story extensively, I have never thought about as such a far reaching phenomenon as Tom Holland as argued in this book.

A great listen or read to anyone who seeks to understand Christianity within the context of our world today and how it got us to where we are, whether a believer or not!

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