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Title: Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence
Author: Jon Pahl
Number of Pages: 257 pages
Book Number/Goal: 36/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: It is widely acknowledged that American culture is both exceptionally religious and exceptionally violent. Americans participate in religious communities in high numbers, yet American citizens also own guns at rates far beyond those of citizens in other industrialized nations. Since 9/11, United States scholars have understandably discussed religious violence in terms of terrorist acts, a focus that follows United States policy. Yet, according to Jon Pahl, to identify religious violence only with terrorism fails to address the long history of American violence rooted in religion throughout the country's history. In essence, Americans have found ways to consider blessed some very brutal attitudes and behaviours, both domestically and globally.

Review: This was really interesting. There are four main sections, Sacrificing Youth, Sacrificing Race, Sacrificing Gender, and Sacrificing Humans. The middle two are pretty self-explanatory (slavery/racism and sexism/homophobia, respectively). Sacrificing Humans explores the way human sacrifice is always positioned as something primitive (non-white) people do/did while ignoring the ways "modern" societies sacrifice people all the time (I especially liked the bit about Puritans and Quakers; I was totally unaware of how violent the Puritans were), and Sacrificing Youth talks about horror films. The whole thing was fascinating and definitely a good read.


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