A Very Long Haul

I'm still trudging my way through Michael Burleigh's Sacred Causes. If ever a book challenged my commitment to judge a book on its merits and not on the beliefs and prejudices of the author this is the book. Burleigh is at his best when he's showing how secular totalitarian regimes adopted many of the trappings of religion and while they also co-opted the habit of devotion among their populations. He's also very good at taking a widescreen view so that Portugal, Mexico and Austria get the same attention to detail usually reserved only for the major Axis powers.

What he's a little too good at his grinding his axe. I guess if you see other authors making claims about history that you believe aren't represented by the record (like, say, "Hitler's Pope"), you could get a little cranky. But does he have to take it out on me? Does he have to randomly take pot-shots at Islamic leaders in his asides that have nothing to do with the action at hand?

I'll stick with it. I'm too stubborn to give up and my lifelong fascination with religions' impacts on societies is strong enough to see me through it. But the Cold War is coming and I really don't think Burleigh's going to be in a good mood about any of it.

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