Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age by Marina Cantacuzino, Desmond Tutu, Alexander McCall Smith, 9781785920004

Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age by Marina Cantacuzino, Desmond Tutu, Alexander McCall Smith, 9781785920004

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What is forgiveness? Are some acts unforgivable? Can forgiveness take the place of revenge? Powerful real-life stories from survivors and perpetrators of crime and violence reveal the true impact of forgiveness on ordinary people worldwide. Exploring forgiveness as an alternative to resentment or retaliation, the storytellers give an honest, moving account of their experiences and what part forgiveness has played in their lives. Despite extreme circumstances, their stories open the door to a society without revenge. All royalties from the sale of this book go to The Forgiveness Project charity.

Publisher reviews

This reassuring and uplifting book testifies to the truth of forgiveness - freestanding, not dependent upon faith, but upon humanity. It is both provocative and full of hope. -- Jon Snow, journalist and presenter These testimonies show the power of forgiveness as a force for renewal and redemption that can harness reconciliation to positively transform the lives of victims and perpetrators. -- Peter Tatchell, political campaigner Confronting, inspiring and unforgettable. The stories in this book not only show the challenges and complexity of forgiveness but reveal unexpected pathways to creating a more tolerant and empathic world, and why we should consign revenge to the dustbin of history. -- Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution and founding faculty member of The School of Life, London The testimonials in this book have taught me a great deal about forgiveness, which I think I thought was something rather easier than it is. They make me weep and they make me really think about what it is to forgive and what it is to try and understand someone instead of demonising them. I think this is probably one of the most important projects in the world today. -- Emma Thompson, actor I have seen, in warzones across the world, how destructive our human desire for revenge can be. It leads to perpetual conflict and inflicting our own sense of loss and grief on countless others. Marina Cantacuzino's work, in this important book and beyond, is a reminder that there is an antidote. These tales of forgiveness are the balm that can soothe our all too angry world. -- Dan Snow, historian and TV presenter Marina Cantacuzino's new book asks us to consider the most challenging question: is it possible for a victim to forgive the perpetrator? Presenting us with heart-breaking and astonishing examples, she shows the answer is 'yes' - even when the victim is a grieving parent and the perpetrator is the murderer of that parent's child. Forgiveness allows the victim to recognise the humanity of the perpetrator (who may himself be a victim), to re-humanise him. And forgiveness is the antidote to a life imprisoned by bitterness and hatred. This book is an invaluable contribution to the debate surrounding peace and reconciliation. -- Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Cambridge University Resentment and bitterness are cancers of the soul. Forgiveness is a healing balm. It is costly but effective as this book so clearly demonstrates. -- Terry Waite CBE, humanitarian and author, held hostage in Lebanon, 1987-91 There are many, many stories (and fine photographs) in this book and dipping into them on a grey, cold, rainy day was like walking into a room where all the lights blazed and a fire welcomed. I felt immeasurably better. Proud to be human. Hopeful that, despite all the evil that is perpetrated by the lost, ignorant and wicked, enough good people are spreading the messages which cancel it out. Uplifted, because it is true that 'to err is human, to forgive divine'. And if this is the finest aspect of the human spirit, then one thing is sure: there are many saintly souls walking the face of the world, teaching the rest of us how to be better. -- Bel Mooney, journalist and broadcaster This book, in which the depths of human sadness are related alongside astonishing accounts of hope, courage and beauty, gives the lie to much that is said and written about forgiveness today. The introductory essay, and the stories that follow, point to the extraordinary range of experiences and situations where forgiveness is somehow relevant, and where it sometimes, often unaccountably, heals and transforms even the most wounded and broken. This is challenging and mysterious stuff, and it will draw a deep and different response from all who open themselves to the pain, truth and transcendence documented here. -- Stephen Cherry, Dean, King's College, Cambridge, and author of Healing Agony: Re-Imagining Forgiveness For eleven years Marina Cantacuzino has been eliciting stories from people who have been able to experience the transformative power of forgiveness, people who have suffered losses that could have crippled their lives with grief and wishes for revenge. Her skill as an ex-journalist is very present as she lets the stories speak and, by not taking a strong moral stance but by being able to embrace the ambiguities inherent in forgiveness, she makes the book even more compelling. I have no doubt you will be left moved and perhaps even changed by reading them. -- Robin Shohet, psychotherapist and author The Forgiveness Project skillfully exposes through personal story the horror and brutality of what people too often do to each other. Thankfully, these stories are leavened with the transforming healing of non violence, understanding and forgiveness and serve as examples to us all. -- Frederic Luskin Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness The Forgiveness Project encourages sensitive connection between parties whose only commonality may have been one of hate. The results are nothing short of miracles. Love knows no obstacles - and this book, sampling the breathtaking work of The Forgiveness Project, is evidence of that. Prepare to be astounded. -- Thandie Newton, actor ...Ultimately, some very good books prove their merit by providing answers to life's dilemmas. Far rarer are those books that prove their merit by provoking us into answering questions about just such dilemmas. The Forgiveness Project is of the latter category and is well worth your attention. San Diego Book Review The bulk of this impressive, original book, which deserves to be hugely influential, is a set of 'stories' that the author has written on behalf of people who have suffered some kind of traumatic harm at the hands of another. They are written in the first person and with such skill that the subtleties of personality and context shone through. The author is not promoting any theory of forgiveness because she doesn't have one. She believes that it takes a myriad of forms and is only known through specific and actual examples. It is, as she puts it, 'as mysterious as love'. -- Stephen Curry Theology, 119(1) This book combines human stories with a deep engagement with some hugely difficult issues. It is written from within the secular paradigm, but it has many overlaps and insights for theology. Concepts such as forgiveness, vengeance and reconciliation and how we address them are common to all of humanity, and this book with its telling of many human stories provides a good way in to reflecting deeply on these issues...this book is essential reading for anyone involved in the work of healing. It has the potential to be transformative. -- Revd Dr Sarah Hills Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Issue 4.1 (June) 2016 This is a deeply moving book about a difficult subject...the book also shows us that forgiveness is a process, a journey that is not an easy choice but one that can transform the world if taken. The Reader, June 2016

About the author

Marina Cantacuzino is an award-winning journalist who in 2003, in response to the imminent invasion of Iraq, embarked on a personal project collecting stories from people who had lived through violence, tragedy or injustice and sought forgiveness rather than revenge. In 2004, she founded The Forgiveness Project (, a charitable organisation that uses real personal narratives to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people's lives. In 2012, Marina spoke at the UN General Assembly about the work of The Forgiveness Project and, in 2015, she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion.

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