One of the most difficult, and under-rated, jobs undertaken by the historian is that of the synthesis. Text books covering long periods of historical time demand the exclusion of vast quantities of material.
This book is concerned with the paradoxes and oxymora (p. 80) inherent in a longue-durée of Western thought, rooted in Christian theology, about political and religious violence: liberty and coercion; violence and peace; cruelty and mercy; shedding blood to achieve peace; violence and martyrdom, election and universalism, old and new, and even, in a sense, the state and the church.
At the height of the Greek financial crisis, reports from colleagues based in Athens painted a sorry picture of respectable citizens who had fallen upon hard times desperately rummaging in dustbins to supplement their dwindling larders. The statistics told an even grimmer story – between 2010 and 2011, suicide rates in Greece rose by 40 per cent.(1)
This is an extremely ambitious, thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring book.