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 (www.theforgivenessproject.com), 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.
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 Stories from survivors and perpetrators of violence revealing the value of forgiveness and reconciliation. Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice For a decade, Cantacuzino's non-profit organization, the Forgiveness Project, has been devoted to eliciting personal narratives about forgiveness and reconciliation from people all over the world. This inspiring and heartbreaking collection reminds readers of the variety of tragedies that exist in the world, but also of the indomitable power of the human spirit. Whether it is the tale of a woman forgiving her father's killer, a white supremacist coming to terms with the damage he has done, or an Aboriginal man pondering the Australian government's policy of forcible child adoptions, readers will be absolutely immersed in these narratives. Throughout, Cantacuzino is careful to manage reader expectations about what forgiveness and reconciliation look like. She explains that this process never happens in quite the same way, and that it is never easy. What forgiveness does require is a staggering display of empathy, to a degree that may force readers to question deeply held assumptions. Cantacuzino also reminds readers that even aggressors have people who love them and that those who commit atrocities are still human beings. This book is thought-provoking and profoundly moving-a truly excellent collection of essays. Publisher's Weekly I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in restorative justice, a peaceful response to violence, or anyone who wants to read inspirational stories and learn more about forgiveness. A collection of stories about violence and crime could have been horrific to read, however reading about the healing and forgiveness made it an uplifting read; the stories didn't focus on the tragic events. This is a book that educated me, made me cry, and touched me deeply. A Geek At Heart blog A very moving, thought provoking and difficult read. Difficult in that the stories were very open and showed the pain that many must have felt on their road of dealing with/potentially recovering from some event. Thought provoking in it really delved into the word "forgiveness" and what it means today. It really left me thinking about the strength of words, the power of people's heart, mind and emotions and the difference that each of us feel in a variety of situations. Meghan Varner blog This book is a collection of personal stories, told by people who have had direct experience of violence, tragedy... (The author) sees her role as a collector of people's narratives and as a facilitator for these stories to be shared... The Forgiveness Project resulted from this endeavor, a charitable organisation which explores reconciliation and conflict resolution through individuals' experiences. Journal of Contemporary Religion This inspiring and heartbreaking collection reminds readers of the variety of tragedies that exist in the world, but also of the indomitable power of the human spirit... Throughout, Cantacuzino is careful to manage reader expectations about what forgiveness and reconciliation look like... This book is thought-provoking and profoundly moving-a truly excellent collection of essays Publishers Weekly, PW, US In every case the story is deeply personal and individual... Alexander McCall Smith, who wrote one of the two forewords, describes this book as one of the most powerful, affecting documents he has ever read... Maria Cantucazino (...) makes is clear that the forgiveness is not about excusing people for what they have done, but about embracing human frailty and fallibility, and taking responsibility for a society we may have helped create... Over and over again, contributors to the book talk about the "liberation" wrought in them, of a step taken, when they finally come to forgive. I have heard it said that hatred s very close to love, and a deepened understanding of the truth of this is one of the many things I have gained from this book. i do hope you read it. -- Pat Williams Human Givens Journal Although not intended as a "religious" work, The Forgiveness Project, (...) is nevertheless one of the most profoundly religious books I have ever read... Forgiveness is as much about the forgiver as the forgiven, enabling them eventually to move on from being trapped in a cycle of unbearable anger and pain... Please do get hold of a copy of The Forgiveness Project - it would change your life. -- John Signleton, Preacher, London Tower Hamlets circuit Methodist Recorder 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 shine through. The author is not promoting any theory of forgiveness because she doesn't have one. She believes that it takes myriad forms and is only known through specific and actual examples. It is, as she puts it, 'as mysterious as love'... those who speak for religion have not yet opened their minds to what she calls the 'up-down-backwards-forwards-inside-outside-on-off' quality of real forgiveness. This book is the articulate and imperative invitation to do precisely that. Stephen Cherry, Theology 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 shine through. The author is not promoting any theory of forgiveness because she doesn't have one. She believes that it takes myriad forms and is only known through specific and actual examples. It is, as she puts it, 'as mysterious as love'... those who speak for religion have not yet opened their minds to what she calls the 'up-downbackwards-forwards-inside-outside-on-off' quality of real forgiveness. This book is the articulate and imperative invitation to do precisely that. -- Stephen Cherry, King's College Theology