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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

What listeners say about Dominion

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Narration style does not match the content

This review is not concerning the content of the book but rather its adaptation as an audio book.
This seems like a classic case of where the author should have read it. Tom Holland does read the forward of the book and it was just fine. However when Mark Meadows takes over is when things go wrong. There is nothing wrong per se with Meadow's performance, it just doesn't match the style need for a history book. What I'm looking for in an audio history book is a narration that is almost totally transparent, this performance is almost the opposite. When listening to the book rather than hearing the statements as just "matter of fact" instead you end up with the impression that a character from a Shakespearean play has burst into a grand monologue. It is very distracting. Tom please do it yourself next time.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting argument on the history of Secularism

Tom Holland makes an interesting argument for the intertwined history of Secularism and Christianity. In Dominion by showing the roots of the modern world in those of the early church, Mr Holland makes the point that concepts about society and justice that the modern world take to be self evident were far from it when Christianity was born.

It's an argument that many people both conservative and liberal I am sure will both find aspects that both clash and reflect their own worldview. An outlook both snowflakey and problematic. In this way it is in itself a reflection that the current culture war in the west is a civil war that stretches back to early Christendom. A civil war between people who fundamentally believe in the power of love and mercy.

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This one not his best

I have read it listened to every book written by Tom Holland, truly a great historian and I have never been disappointed but this one is a bit too rambling, a bit too anecdotal and well, too LONG. Many of its assertions are interesting but remain assertions, many connections inspired but not demonstrated. The last three hours or so the 20th century truly taxed my patience, hopping here and there while endlessly pontificating...I wish I could like it better but I just can’t. Once it left the first Millenium A.D it just lost its way.

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ad hoc hypothesis the modus operandi

good. decent narration, intresting tidbits.

bad. cheery picked examples to further the red line of christianity's bedrock values made a fundation of the west. Certainly a reasonable argument, this book does not challenge but seek only to proclaim. Spanning the scope of centuries, dynastic politics, war, plauge etc seems to all be whims of man when a random pope finally says no more sex for priests or challenge a monarch to whom appoints biachops. Anecdotal all the way.

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  • Amazonian
  • 01-08-20

A fabulous book turned into a Hammer horror film

DOMINION may well be the most essential and lasting book published in English in 2019 - Tom Holland's scholarship, insight and scope are that big, and that accomplished. I began reading this excellent book in the Kindle version and was enjoying it so much that I decided to indulge in the Audible version too, so I could prolong my immersion uninterrupted as I commute and drive around London. Sadly, regretfully, disappointingly, the audiobook version is in the hands of a man who forgets that his role is to read the text and let the text shine. By the end of chapter one he's so excited he's losing breath, and his "impersonations" of women and God are clumsy and ridiculous enough to turn a grand narrative of historical facts into a Hammer horror film - yes, it's that ridiculous and jarring. The reader's job is to read, not to call attention to himself. The Audible sample you hear first is of Tom Holland himself reading the introduction, and that is a masterful, authoritative and engaging read. But once you get into the book proper, you're in the hands of a narrator who keeps making all the wrong choices and calling attention to himself for all the wrong reasons. His job as the reader is to be anonymous to let the author's voice -not his- take centre stage. But this reader is continuously shouting "Look at me, look at me!" as if he were the reason why this book is of any interest. This excellent book deserves a much more respectful treatment -like all of us listeners do too. But halfway through chapter two, I have already found it unbearable - I want my money back. And now I'll go back to the Kindle version.

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  • m101
  • 02-19-20

mark meadows is a terrible reader

he should read fiction, not non-fiction. constant up and down in town. just read it and don't make it into a performance!

18 people found this helpful

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  • One of Many Customers
  • 12-17-20

Mark Meadows reading over dramatic and thespian

I wish Tom had read the entire book rather than just the introduction because I found his voice more authentic and effective than Mark Meadow's reading which was punctuated by quick little pants of breath and a gravelly almost contrived baritone that were off-putting. I couldn't listen to more than ten minutes of him because it was so distracting. I'm sad it's been a waste of money as I'd love to hear it all the way through.

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  • Ola
  • 12-15-19

Narrator acts rather than narrates

I really wanted to enjoy this book by Tom Holland which is so well researched and written,but the narrator overacts! Returned book.

17 people found this helpful

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  • A time to question
  • 10-02-19

Thrilling, serious and timely

All things fall apart, the centre cannot hold...it often feels today. Our diverse liberal society is ‘tolerant’ and paradoxically judgemental, and does not really seem to understand its own rationale. Tom Holland’s book tells a compelling narrative which weaves together the paradoxes, the highs and the lows of our human story, constantly asking ‘who are we really?’ And he provides a historical, profound and clear answer. But challenges (implicitly) the reader to provide a better explanation.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Lawrence A. Farrell
  • 01-08-21

Dear god calm down

Excellent book by a fabulous author, love Tom Holland’s books but dear god the guy reading it needs to calm down, it’s not fiction, it’s not the latest Harry Potter. Tom Holland reads the preface so well, like a historian and then Mark comes in and it’s ruined. So animated that you can’t keep track of what he’s talking about

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-05-20

disappointing

I was expecting a book detailing the influence of Christianity on the world. Instead you get Christian loving bias and tilted accounts of history.

"Although I no longer believe in God, I'm still a Christian". and "I take my morals from the Bible" What utter nonsense.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-18-20

Utterly inspiring

This has been a through exposition of the sins and merits of Christianity which, through its long and tortuous path has established itself as the moral compass of history. It's time of writing might be the most appropriate as the flow of history is likely to move in a different direction than that of St. Paul's teachings. I hope you read it and become more aware about the influence that the thinking of a weak and good man 2000 years ago has had in our lives.

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  • MR R E Williams
  • 11-04-20

Should be required reading in schools

Although I would have liked some more commentary along the way I really think this is a fair and much-needed book for our revisionist times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Peter M
  • 04-21-20

Historical honesty and challenging candour

Tom has produced a masterclass of historical fact-facing to show how, even as the West discards Christianity, its influence lives on in its social values. He is candid about the absence of Christian faith in himself, yet he traces the indelible imprint of that faith in shaping our world. This is a must-read for enquiring minds.

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  • Jason P. Green
  • 04-24-21

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rodney Wetherell
  • 04-10-21

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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  • Jonah gunn
  • 11-06-21

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. Capturing vivid scenes of British Imperialism, Wild West fossil hunters and mid century rock stars amplify the sense of radical change but nevertheless reinforces the contours 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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  • Joash
  • 08-10-21

brilliant historical and philosophical piece.

this was a fascinating journey through the history of the moral assumptions of the western mind.

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  • Stephen Annells
  • 02-19-21

well researched and well written

well researched, well written and insightful. will definitely pass this to others to read .

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  • Judy Fitz
  • 02-08-21

Amazing sweep of history

Anyone interested in Western culture and history will benefit from reading this. You can’t help but learn many things.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-14-21

A brilliant analysis.

This is way history should be told. Bringing to life histories characters, good and bad.

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  • Doug Tyler
  • 01-03-21

Fascinating

A fascinating view of the history of Christianity, and its influence beyond the church itself, of compellingly told.

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  • Kristola
  • 09-17-20

very hard to follow on audible

the author freely jumps decades, geography and characters making it hard to follow along. h

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  • Trevor F.
  • 05-16-20

Magnificent research and Writing

One of the most important and helpful books on the basis and influence of Christian faith upon the nations of the world.

Written by Tom Holland, a very brilliant and highly respectful historian.

Given that he does not believe in Jesus the Risen Christ, it is to be admired how well he has managed to grasp much (but not all) of the essence of the matter. Only receptive faith can ever open the necessary insights into the significance of the resurrection.
Even so, magnificent research and a grand look at history.

Trevor