Paradise: A History of the Idea That Rules the World

Kevin Rushby

Kevin Rushby’s new book provides brief tours of several paradises, both religious and secular—ancient Greek, Eden, the Islamic “perfect man,” Utopia—but the real focus is on what seekers of paradise are willing to do in order to get there. Approaches run the gamut, from abstinence of varying types (often coupled with quirky rules) to lengthy quests throughout the world to zealous murders. People searching for paradise create new religions and new societies—and self-righteously destroy old religions and societies. Although he concludes that for most of us paradise is best found within, Rushby also suggests that the concept of paradise is practically unknown to those who inhabit idyllic, remote places. They have no yearning for a paradise because they have no sense of having lost one.