The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

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Knopf, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 305 pages
15 Reviews
Karen Armstrong begins this spellbinding story of her spiritual journey with her departure in 1969 from the Roman Catholic convent she had entered seven years before—hoping, but ultimately failing, to find God. She knew almost nothing of the changed world to which she was returning, and she was tormented by panic attacks and inexplicable seizures.

Armstrong's struggle against despair was further fueled by a string of discouragements—failed spirituality, doctorate, and jobs; fruitless dealings with psychiatrists. Finally, in 1976, she was diagnosed with epilepsy, given proper treatment, and released from her “private hell.” She then began the writing career that would become her true calling, and as she focused on the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, her own inner story began to emerge. Without realizing it, she had embarked on a spiritual quest, and through it she would eventually experience moments of transcendence—the profound fulfillment that she had not found in long hours of prayer as a young nun.

Powerfully engaging, often heartbreaking, but lit with bursts of humor, The Spiral Staircase is an extraordinary history of self.

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Review: The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

User Review  - Rachielle - Goodreads

In the Spiral Staircase, Karen Armstrong writes about her emergence into the real world after leaving the convent, where she was a Catholic nun for seven years. In it, she chronicles her climb out of ... Read full review

Review: The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness

User Review  - Jobiska (Cindy) - Goodreads

Oh, darn it. I am trying to read through books that I don't plan to keep in order to lighten the load on my shelves. I was really enjoying this work, which is an entertaining, touching memoir that ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Karen Armstrong is the author of numerous other books on religious affairs, including A History of God, The Battle for God, Through the Narrow Gate, Holy War, Islam, and Buddha. Her work has been translated into forty languages. She is also the author of three television documentaries and took part in Bill Moyers's television series Genesis. Since September 11, 2001, she has been a frequent contributor to conferences, panels, newspapers, periodicals, and throughout the media on both sides of the Atlantic on the subject of Islam. She lives in London.

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