Dominion

How the Christian Revolution Remade the World
Narrated by: Tom Holland, Mark Meadows
Length: 22 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (253 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A "marvelous" (Economist) account of how the Christian Revolution forged the Western imagination

Crucifixion, the Romans believed, was the worst fate imaginable, a punishment reserved for slaves. How astonishing it was, then, that people should have come to believe that one particular victim of crucifixion - an obscure provincial by the name of Jesus - was to be worshipped as a god. Dominion explores the implications of this shocking conviction as they have reverberated throughout history. 

Today, the West remains utterly saturated by Christian assumptions. As Tom Holland demonstrates, our morals and ethics are not universal but are instead the fruits of a very distinctive civilization. Concepts such as secularism, liberalism, science, and homosexuality are deeply rooted in a Christian seedbed. From Babylon to the Beatles, Saint Michael to #MeToo, Dominion tells the story of how Christianity transformed the modern world. 

©2019 Tom Holland (P)2019 Basic Books

Critic Reviews

"A sweeping narrative...[Holland] is an exceptionally good storyteller with a marvelous eye for detail...excellent fun." (The Economist)

"What in other hands could have been a dry pedantic account of Christianity's birth and evolution becomes in Holland's an all-absorbing story...It takes a master storyteller to translate the development of a philosophical notion into a captivating story, and Holland proves to be one... Holland offers a remarkably nuanced and balanced account of two millennia of Christian history - intellectual, cultural, artistic, social and political. The book's scope is breathtaking." (The Literary Review)

"Christianity may not be on the march, but its principles continue to dominate in much of the world; this thoughtful, astute account describes how and why... Holland delivers penetrating, often jolting discussions on great controversies of Western civilization in which war, politics, and culture have formed a background to changes in values... An insightful argument that Christian ethics, even when ignored, are the norm worldwide." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Little Confusing

This book was a little confusing, or at least my expectations were confused. I thought it was going to be a study of how Christian culture and thought took over the world (which it certainly did), instead it read to me like a travelogue of Christian history. I found myself repeatedly asking the question, “what is the author’s purpose in all this?” Rightly or wrongly it was befuddling to me. That is not to say that the book isn’t interesting, because it is. I think my favorite parts of the book were two-fold, first the prologue and epilogue because Mr. Holland writes personally in those sections and I found them the most interesting parts for me, especially in the epilogue concerning the influence of his great-aunt who was a committed Christian. The other part of the book that I enjoyed was when Mr. Holland writes of current events. He rightly points out the origin in a Christian milieu of virtually all of the forces that are either outright opposed to the Christian faith, or certainly at odds with it. As one example the “woke” movement in which, not only must you ask forgiveness for your sins, but also do penance and atone for them. Where did this pattern come from? The Christian faith of course. Mr. Holland gives plenty of examples, and, like it or not, he is correct in his analysis

10 people found this helpful

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Author only reads preface

Author only reads preface. Other guy reads the rest. Beware. It’s good. You just won’t get that sweet accent for twenty-two hours!

14 people found this helpful

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lots of nice writing, but kind of light on history

just like the other Tom Holland books I have read , I felt it was nice, sweet and fluffy, but kind of lacking in substance. btw , I do think (along with many others) that "Rubicon" was his masterpiece. this is kind of the closest he has come to that I think, but still a bit too fluffy in content.

8 people found this helpful

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Christendom as societal foundation

As the subtitle states, the aim of this book is to show how Christianity is the foundation upon which modern secular societies have been built and upon which the morality of those societies is based. In this, I believe the book succeeds admirably though not without a few hiccups. Starting several centuries before the birth of Christ, Tom Holland describes what morality - such as it was - actually meant in pre-Christian cultures. With this starting point, the author takes us through twenty-one chapters, leading up to the present day, each one further along in time, showing how Christianity itself evolved as well as the Christians' understanding of what it meant to be Christian. Through this, the author shows that modern society's moral principles are so fully ingrained in Western civilization that we take them as a given (the concept of human rights and equality being primary among these) without recognizing how alien these concepts are - or were before Christianity. Even today's secular humanists rely upon them, many if not most of whom are not aware of the wellspring of their now-cherished beliefs. I thought it was an excellent book and I learned a lot about history and the evolution of moral thought in this book. One complaint would be that there isn't, at the end, any resolution to the question of, If society no longer recognizes that it owes its cherished moral beliefs to Christianity, what will happen to those beliefs when/if Christianity recedes from daily life. To some extent this question is dealt with, perhaps a bit more completely, by Douglas Murray near the end of his book, "The Strange Death of Europe." Holland leaves this as more of an open question, only briefly asking the question itself near the end of the book. But other than that quibble, I found this be an enlightening book that any student of history would enjoy. The narration is superb - both Tom Holland's introduction and conclusion and Mark Meadows' reading of the majority of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Great overview of the religious, philosophical, and political development of the West

This is a very engaging and easily accessible overview of the development of Western thought, and particularly the impact of a Persian, Greek, and Christian religion and philosophy, on our current world. Outstanding.

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Engaging, Insightful, Relevant, and Powerful

This is the best book I’ve read in a while. By giving a survey of from pre-Christian Rome to the modern day, Holland demonstrates that “universal equality”, “secularism”, and “glory of the downtrodden” are distinctly Christian innovations whose seditious and disruptive effects so profoundly shaped Western thought as we know it. So deeply have we internalized these values that they have become “self evident” even though throughout history, and even in some cultures today, they were and are far from self evident. As he builds up his framework throughout the narratives of history, the book crescendos into applying that framework to the recent social changes of the late 2010s and gives a truly innovative and spine-tingling paradigm through which to understand them. Holland handles the history of Christianity very evenhandedly. He does not pull punches when documenting brutality done in Christ’s name, but neither does he shy away of almost fawning praise for those deserving of it. The prose is engaging and the reading is well done, both by the author and the narrator. I sincerely hope this book is widely read by many.

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Only the forward is narrated by Holland.

12 hours in, I just can't take any more of the narrator's strange emoting. Every sentence is read with a melodramatic treatment that would be strange for any book - but for this text it seems particularly strange. It is as if Meadows has no confidence in Holland's writing and feels that he needs to pump some drama in what he (or the producer) feels is dull stuff. Also, I don't think it is fair of Audible to use Holland's brief narration of the Preface as the "sample" for the book when it is Meadows who takes over for another 22 plus hours!. Honestly, it was as if the narrator were reading aloud sentences in a language he only understood phonetically and had not the vaguest idea as to the meaning. It was so laughably bad - as members of my household can attest when I listened without earbuds - so disassociated with content that as engrossed as I was by the material, I pulled the plug at 12 hours in and am reading the rest of the book (at page 292) on my own. btw - I have noticed a disturbing trend that "performance" by the narrator has begun to overwhelm the text in other Audible selections as well. These strange highly interpretive (and strange), hyper-dramatic narrative treatments have too often spoiled the nuanced writing of excellent authors. The voice of the writer is destroyed by narrators who I suppose have been told to "be engaging." It's awful! If this is an intentional effort by audiobook producers to be "entertaining" it reveals a lack of trust of both writer and reader.

1 person found this helpful

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I’m overwhelmed with emotion.

The final pages left me overwhelmed with emotion; gratitude for what I’ve inherited, grief for what’s been lost, and a profound sense of awe at the enduring power of the Christian myth, of which we are all a part.

1 person found this helpful

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Thought provoking and challenging

The author traces the history of Christian thought in detail through the centuries, noting how Christian thought transformed the world around it, to the present day. Even today as our public discourse would lead you to believe that we are hopelessly locked in a culture war of secular pluralism vs conservative Christian fundamentalism, the author shows how Christian thought has deeply influenced both sides. Those who have dismissed Christianity as irrelevant may be surprised at how some of their most deeply held beliefs — such as, the inherent worth of the individual, the existence and universality of human rights, the teleology of history, the possibility of triumph and redemption through suffering, and even the very definition of religion and secularism — all have deeply Christian roots. The book also looks unflinching at how Christianity has been used both as a justification to oppress and a means for the oppressed to defy their oppressors. It also points out the blind spots we have when dealing with others who have a different religious values, because we take for granted our deeply ingrained values we received from our Christian traditions.

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Very good! Will recommend to friends

This book was so well thought out and honest. I learned throughout the entire book.