A sinner’s guide to eternal torment
Reprinted Winter 2019. First edition sold out.
Now under option for television.
Hell and Damnation takes readers on a journey into the strange richness of the human imaginings of hell, deep into time and across many faiths, back into early Egypt and the 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh. This “urbane, funny and deeply researched guide,” as an early assessment put it, “ventures well beyond the Nine Circles of Dante’s Hell and the many medieval Christian visions into the hellish descriptions in Islam, Buddhism, Jewish legend, Japanese traditions and more.”
Thus, Hell and Damnation is more than a peek into the wormhole of the medieval imagination, more than a guidebook to cruelty, though it is both those things. It is, in essence, a commentary on the nature of faith, for the decline of hell (if, indeed, it is declining) has consequences for heaven too. This book is for those with an interest in the picaresque, but also for those who look on the human religious project with a certain skepticism, and are keeping a wary eye on the continuing overlap between faith and politics. It is less polemical (and more forgiving, and certainly more fun) than Dawkins and Harris, but with a similar point of view: it belongs on the shelves alongside those skeptics (and also alongside that curiously burgeoning publishing sub-genre, books that seek to “prove” that heaven is real).
On the other hand … you could place it in the Travel section.