Peter Stanford

Pub date
B Format 129x198mm
384 pages
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Book Overview

A stimulating inquiry into one of the great religious mysteries – and what theologians, artists, writers, psychologists, priests, historians and people from all religions and walks of life have thought of heaven, where many of us still hope to go one day.

The author writes: ‘While images of hell are firmly fixed in the human psyche, no parallel standard vision exists for heaven either within the Christian Church or more widely in the world’s various religious traditions…it has somehow been judged indecent or presumptuous to contemplate the better end of the post-mortem destination market. This book will break that taboo.’

Heaven’s mysteriousness has leant it a discreet but powerful allure. There are two basic views: first, the afterlife will involve a vaguely defined spiritual peace – eternal solitude with God alone; the second allows for some overlap between heaven and earth, and hence relationships outside the central bond with God. Or is heaven religion’s biggest con-trick but one that is impossible to debunk?

About the author

Peter Stanford’s previous books include biographies of Lord Longford, Cardinal Basil Hume, Bronwen Astor and most recently the Devil. He has also written an investigation of the Pope Joan legend and a polemical book, Catholics and Sex, which accompanied a Channel 4 television series. He contributes regularly to the Guardian and Sunday Telegraph and New Statesman. A regular broadcaster, he is also chairman of the national disability charity ASPIRE.


  • ‘Engaging and elegant. The main thrust of the book is in effect the history of the concept of life after death…fascinating.’ Antonia Fraser, New Statesman
  • ‘Thoughtful…humble, informative and well read…pleading for the re-establishment of the power of the myth.’ Spectator
  • ‘Through cloudscapes and spirit worlds, Stanford is a well-informed and never less than caring guide.’ Sunday Telegraph
  • ‘A thoughtful and thought-provoking book.’ Sunday Times
  • ‘A wise guide to the entire celestial anthropology [which] does elegant justice to the mental geography of heaven and the travellers’ tales of the elect.’ Guardian