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The Great Transformation

The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
Narrated by: Karen Armstrong
Length: 22 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (330 ratings)

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Critic Reviews

"Dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth." (Publishers Weekly)
"This could very possibly be one of the greatest intellectual histories ever written." (Library Journal)
"A lucid, highly readable account of complex developments occurring over many centuries....A splendid book." (The New York Times)
"Armstrong at her best - translating and distilling complex history into lucid prose that will delight scholars and armchair historians alike." (The Washington Post Book World)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • Lake Grove, NY, United States
  • 09-20-06

Fills in the blanks

I think this book is a very well researched and non judgmental view of the beginnings of the major religions. It fills in a lot of the blanks and explains the inconsistencies in many of the sacred writings. I listened to this one before "Short History of Islam" and enjoyed her narration much more - she should narrate all of her own books. Definitely worth the listen!

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Colin
  • ReadingUnited Kingdom
  • 06-08-07

An excellent piece of work

A great, concise history of our religious traditions covering China, India, Israel and Greece. I found the balance of presentation of fact and analysis perfect, there is no forced agenda here, and there is more than enough room for your own thought and conclusions. There is no doubt much more to be read concerning this topic, and the reader is left with enough knowledge to pursue any further investigations they may want to.
The book is an epic listen, and if your purposes are informational then it’s a great bet. If you are more inclined to study the material I would suggest the printed version, (as I will be purchasing) mainly for notes and also for what must be a massive bibliography.
The work is read by the author and she does a fantastic job, even paced and well spoken.
I'll be spending more time with this book.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Denver, Colorado, United States
  • 07-24-13

Good starting point, but take with a grain of salt

I enjoyed how the author brought together many world religions and compared them, but I feel as if she failed to sufficiently compare them and prove they were essentially the same thing (as was her thesis). Had the author simply recalled history and left it at that, I would have enjoyed it more. Also I would have liked it if the author had discussed each religion individually instead of breaking up all the different religions along chronological order. I didn't want to use this as a resource, but had I wanted to talk specifically about ancient Greek Religion I would be forced to search several dozen different sections of this book for information, as opposed to just one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Leslie
  • Canmore, Alberta, Canada
  • 07-12-07

Balanced and informative

I agree completely with Colin. This is a superb book, as are all of Karen Armstrong's works. But it is dense and requires complete concentration, preferably with a world map and a dictionary beside you. I bought the printed version after listening to this, and it's probably a better form to use.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 03-25-16

Very informative. Worth Reading.

Armstrong is as impressive a source on religion as there is in the world. She's also a tremendous writer who can make dry subjects interesting. I definitely learned a lot here. The histories of the major religions are told in great detail. Anyone interested in religion and world history should read this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Marvelous

There is so much history covered in this book. Though it may not convey all of the details of each tradition, the book weaves together the common thread throughout all of the major religious traditions. Definitely worth the long listen.

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    5 out of 5 stars

As usual Karen Armstrong gives insight.

The purpose of life is complicated. Accepting the need to recognize that others beliefs are their rights are important and should be accepted is difficult but important.

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  • Marcus
  • Brasília, Brazil
  • 02-24-19

The Golden Rule

This book is about the genesis of the religious ideas. It examines the different traditions and its historical development. The author seeks to understand these ideas in order to discern insights for our days. She reconstructs the various traditions and gives her interpretation. The task is well done. The case Armstrong makes for compassion as the pivotal value of these traditions in impressive and actually appraises religious ideas. Great reading!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Once again, Karen Armstrong at her best

Enticing and inspiring read from a knowledgeable and authoritative writer. If only all of her other books were here as well.

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excellent

very good summary of axial philosophies and various religions focusing predominantly on the golden rule.