the Books

Whether you know absolutely nothing about a subject and are embarking on your first steps, or you are already familiar with the world the Little History describes, these are the most energetic, entertaining and reliable guides you will find.

View all the books

A Little History of Religion, by
Richard Holloway

A Little History of Religion

Published: August 15, 2016

Buy the book

UK, Europe and Rest of World

| Paperback 

Buy the book

North America

| Paperback

In an era of hardening religious attitudes and explosive religious violence, A Little History of Religion offers a welcome antidote. Richard Holloway retells the entire history of religion – from the dawn of religious belief to the twenty-first century – with deepest respect and a keen commitment to accuracy. Writing for those with faith and those without, and especially for young readers, he encourages curiosity and tolerance, accentuates nuance and mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith.

Ranging far beyond the major world religions of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, A Little History of Religion also examines where religious belief comes from, the search for meaning throughout history, today’s fascinations with Scientology and creationism, religiously motivated violence, hostilities between religious people and secularists, and more. Holloway proves an empathic yet discerning guide to the enduring significance of faith and its power from ancient times to our own.

‘This lovable book is clearly modelled on a best-seller from the same publisher, Gombrich’s A Little History of the World … It takes you from the assertion that religion is something which “comes from the mind of the human animal”, and romps through the whole story, from the revelation on Sinai to the composition of the Vedas and the chronology of Hinduism and Buddhism, with short-summaries of their better known texts.’ – A. N. Wilson, The Tablet

Some reviews

‘Thank God – if I can use that phrase in a neutral way – for Richard Holloway and his carefully weighted, beautifully written and strangely compelling brief history of world religions… There can be no better place to learn about [religion] than in the pages of this enlightening book.’ – Peter Stanford, The Observer


‘This is a well-written book, from which most of us will come away knowing more about the religions of the world than we knew before… In its own way this engaging book might be seen as a period piece.’  – John Charmley, The Times


‘It is hard to imagine a better account that avoids pedantry and illuminates with vivid detail or astute commentary. This is an instructive attempt to conceive of religion outside the constraints of a specific religion’s beliefs, while also recognising how unbelievable and truly mysterious religion is.’ – D. G. Hart, author of Calvinism: A History


‘It is difficult to name anyone more qualified to write on this topic than Richard Holloway. His own journey of faith has encompassed so many experiences that he writes with an admirable combination of detachment, knowledge and affectionate engagement.’ – Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

About the author

Richard Holloway

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, is an internationally popular writer and broadcaster. His more than twenty books include the best-selling Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt. He live …

More about Richard Holloway

About the illustrator

Gary Bullock

Gary Bullock is a U.K. based digital commercial illustrator with many years experience working in a wide variety of illustrative styles. He made the decision to become an illustrator at an early age when he was told off by his teacher for doodling in h …

More about Gary Bullock