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A Guide to the End of the World: Everything you never wanted to know Hardcover – 21 Mar 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; First Edition edition (21 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802972
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 1.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,644,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

Nothing lasts forever, and we are all going to die. Since we've lived with these givens all our lives, it's not really surprising that we enjoy books about the end of the world such as Bill McGuire's A Guide to the End of the World. Going all together would be so much more fun.

McGuire's account of likely natural catastrophes is a splendidly integrated mechanism, relating rising tides to volcanic eruptions, eruptions to floods, global warming to local cooling--it's amazing we've lasted as long as we have (not sarcasm: fact).

Of course, the boundary between the "natural" and the "man-made" disaster is (and has been, since we arrived on the scene) a grey area. The marked success of one species threatens extinction on all. The super-success of homo sapiens bodes ill, not only for individual species, but for the whole environment.

And this, not surprisingly, is where McGuire's book starts to leave the rails. McGuire writes: "By wiping out the bulk of species that exist today, we are destroying much of the evolution's raw material and severely limiting the planet's ability to generate the species of the future." First, this is a classic piece of misdirection: we have not, as McGuire implies, destroyed the bulk of other species (although we may in the future). More important, its conclusion is plain nonsense. The mass extinction event at the end of the Palaeozoic Era (there have been four others in Earth's history already) wiped out something like 96 per cent of all species--yet life, far from being stunted, blossomed in the gaps, more various than ever before. McGuire would do better to argue that mass extinctions make room for new species to evolve! McGuire's book is a lively entertainment. But his breast-beating is hard to swallow. --Simon Ings

Review

Focuses on future catastrophes facing our planet and addresses the probabilities of their happening and our chances of survival.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
We are so used to seeing on our television screens the battered remains of cities pounded by earthquakes or the thousands of terrified refugees escaping from yet another volcanic blast that they no longer hold any surprise or fear for us, insulated as we are by distance and a lack of true empathy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Colin Brodie on 28 Aug 2003
Format: Hardcover
Well not quite, but in this very readable and eye opening little book, Bill McGuire (dubbed ‘Disaster Man’ by the media), gives an scientific insight into the natural catastrophes that are lying in wait, ready to be unleashed upon the human race. His guide takes us through the various Armageddon type scenarios that may signal ‘adios’ to the human race; Super Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes, Tsunami’s, Asteroid Impacts, Global Warming and the reoccurrence of an Ice Age!

It is slightly alarming when we consider that the last volcanic super-eruption plunged the planet into a bitter volcanic winter some 73,500 years ago. While little more than 100,000 years ago gigantic waves caused by a collapsing Hawaiian volcano mercilessly pounded the entire coastline of the Pacific Ocean. However, most worryingly of all 65 million years ago a 10 kilometre wide asteroid crashed into the sea off the coast of Mexico, signalling the end for the mighty dinosaurs who had ruled the planet far longer than the human race!
The events that McGuire is examining have always been part of the earth’s history and will continue to be. He does well in conveying the message that it is simply a matter of time until one of these events will signal the end of the world as we know it today! McGuire examines the background to such events and considers the likelihood of any reoccurrence in the near future. ‘A Guide to the End of the World’ provides an intriguing read from start to finish, and left me with a healthy respect for the destructive potential of the earth and its surrounding space.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Colin Brodie on 21 Aug 2003
Format: Hardcover
Well not quite, but in this very readable and eye opening little book, Bill McGuire (dubbed 'Disaster Man' by the media), gives an scientific insight into the natural catastrophes that are lying in wait, ready to be unleashed upon the human race. His guide takes us through the various Armageddon type scenarios that may signal 'adios' to the human race; Super Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes, Tsunami's, Asteroid Impacts, Global Warming and the reoccurrence of an Ice Age!

It is slightly alarming when we consider that the last volcanic super-eruption plunged the planet into a bitter volcanic winter some 73,500 years ago. While little more than 100,000 years ago gigantic waves caused by a collapsing Hawaiian volcano mercilessly pounded the entire coastline of the Pacific Ocean. However, most worryingly of all 65 million years ago a 10 kilometre wide asteroid crashed into the sea off the coast of Mexico, signalling the end for the mighty dinosaurs who had ruled the planet far longer than the human race!
The events that McGuire is examining have always been part of the earth's history and will continue to be. He does well in conveying the message that it is simply a matter of time until one of these events will signal the end of the world as we know it today! McGuire examines the background to such events and considers the likelihood of any reoccurrence in the near future. 'A Guide to the End of the World' provides an intriguing read from start to finish, and left me with a healthy respect for the destructive potential of the earth and its surrounding space.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Muppeteer on 28 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this after seeing some of his articles in the press post the Boxing Day tsunami tragedy. The book covers all of the the key natural phenomena (tsunami, asteroid impacts, global warming, etc.) and is well-written and presented. I found it fascinating and was disappointed that it was only 185 pages or so, I could have read on for much longer. But an excellent book nonetheless, and I would be surprised if there was a better introductory text to these topics available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Malsy on 6 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback
Definitely recommend this book! Was advised to read it as one of our set texts (a university geology module called Natural Geological Hazards)and despite the omminous title is a thorough and exciting read. McGuire does what many writers and broadcasters are afraid to - produce media that tells it like it is - especially on this subject matter, which no matter how much the world's population try to ignore it, it will always be there. He mentions how presidents and prime ministers will rarely address the issues covered in here for fear of sounding bad and losing votes, but all they are doing is making it harder to deal with any disaster when they do arrive. So to Messrs Cameron, Obama, Sarkozy, Putin (and somebody who really shouldn't be near positions of power, but is in most need of this book - Palin)... order it on Amazon and enjoy!
I say "enjoy" because once you get into it, even with no geological or environmental knowledge background, this text as extremely accessible and as pessimistic as it can get, if you think of everyone else reading it and other such documents, latest disasters like the volcano, earthquakes and tsunami in Indonesia recently could at the very least have been - and could still be mitigated. Thank you Bill for a very fuelling read, just hope you still smile at some things! :)
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. R. Lewis on 11 Jun 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his personal quest to frighten us to death, McGuire has penned yet another doomsday book. With its superficial air of science, it presents a quite bogus picture of nature. Disasters of natural origin are a fact of life for those who live next to a volcano, or in an earthquake zone, but neither apply to the UK, so you can relax. So he tries to spin the argument into super-volcanoes, giant landslides, forgetting that they are infrequent on a geological timescale, and infinitesimal on a human time-frame. Not to be out-done, he then spins out the familiar guff about global warming, and tries to tell us that the debate is over: "there is absolutely no doubt that the Earth is warming up". I have news for McGuire: the earth is currently cooling, and none of the disasters predicted by the IPCC and other irresponsible bodies have yet to occur. Eat your words McGuire, and can one expect an apology for your wild prognostications? He even copies the now totally discredited hockey stick curve of Mann, which was made by deliberately manipulating data to eliminate the Medieval Warm period and the little Ice Age. This is fraud on a grand scale, and McGuire sucks it up like a dummy. He should consult the many interesting emails exposed by Climategate. This book is junk science at its worst, and avoided. A much more balanced presentation is given by Ian Plimer in Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science, and also by Carter in Climate: the Counter-consensus (Independent Minds).
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