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Real History of the End of the World, The Paperback – 13 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: BERKLEY - US; Original edition (13 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425232530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425232538
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.9 x 21.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,776,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Interesting insight into the eternal wait for .... the end 9 May 2010
By Lesley West - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is rather a difficult book to classify, as I haven't read it as a history as such, but rather an interesting overview of how we human beings apparently have, throughout time, been patiently (or impatiently as the case may be) waiting for the end of time.

I confess to being a keen devourer of apocolypse and post-apocolypse fiction, so it has been very interesting to read how different societies have considered that perhaps all that we have will soon enough come to an end, usually based upon the cumulative evils of loose living and disrespect for one's deity. Indeed, much has been said in recent times of our modern world's moral and economic collapse, and some people genuinely believe that we are living in "end times".

If you believe this and think that this will give you further insight, this is NOT the book for you. Sharan Newman has a rather wicked sense of humour, which I appreciate immensely (for example when discussing horned beasts which are prevalent in many texts she comments that there must be a nest somewhere, probably in the bottomless pit), but I can see that this might not be the case for all. She does not labour on the beliefs of any particular faith, though The Bible is regularly mentioned as it is so well studied; and she does address the beliefs of the monoethist religions, as well as those brave individual souls who have, over time, announced that the world will end on such and such a date, only to be disappointed and forced to recalculate their stance. Even Nostadamus gets a chapter, as does the hype and hysteria that surrounds the Y2K bug.

This is a really unusual, interesting and entertaining book, and which offers one final interesting insight - people who strongly believe that the end of the world is nigh, usually believe that they will be saved. I think this quite a telling point.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lighthearted romp through the apocalypse 9 Dec 2010
By C. P. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
This is a survey of the various groups through the ages who have predicted that the "end is near." Everyone's covered - from ancients Mesopotamians to Heaven's Gate and from the Mayans to the Chinese. A lot of these stories may be familiar (Nostradamus), but some of them are not (a Chinese guy who thought he was Jesus's brother). Some of the latter are very interesting. The tone throughout is one of decided skepticism, but treated in a very light manner. Personally, I really appreciated that, as well as the short and sweet treatment of the many topics. It makes for a quick, fun read. If you want some more serious tome (hi, Dan!), though, you really need to look elsewhere.
The Real History of the End of the World 25 July 2012
By Sam Adams - Published on Amazon.com
The 43 chapters are independent and each gives an overview of a group of prophecies or a religious movement that declares an approaching end to human civilization. Chapter 14 includes a chart of "when will the world End? Predictions through Time" which gives the date of the prediction, the predicted date of the world's end, who made the prediction, and the type of end (apocalyptic, millennial, messianic, anti-christ, last judgment, second coming, economic collapse, or undefined change).

If you're inclined to believe the end is near, you will find here company throughout history and see that just like them, your certainty of belief does not imply actual knowledge. Because most of these prophecies are part of a religious belief-system, the end of the world is seen as only the end of this world. A topic not discussed in the book is the political motivation behind anticipation of an Armageddon style reset of civilization.
Snappy, well-researched, pretty even-handed. 11 Oct 2011
By Future Green Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked it. A lot. Sharan did a lot of background prep here. And this one absolutely meant to teach the reader. It reads like a textbook in spots, but that's OK with me. It is so heavy with scholarship, though, when she inserts little sly jokes every now and then, I felt disoriented. Was this meant to be a romp through history, irreverent and chatty, or was the aim to document facts and details and let the reader toss in their own comedic touches? I couldn't quite decide what I was reading. Overall, I can discern what the author had in mind and it pretty much held to that: presenting a catalog of apocalyptic prognostication, and you take it from there. Another concern I had is that some of the chapters were too short. I'd settle in to read about a group, and before I knew it, the chapter was done. It was long in spots but I needed more to chew on in others.

I maintain she presented the material respectfully, overall. But, yeah, there is something damn funny about a ragged band of wanderers under bearskin cloaks but otherwise naked, reeking to high heavens (!), no doubt muttering to themselves, scary, and wild-eyed in the service of their beliefs. Read about the Mummyjums and I dare you to keep a straight face. Admittedly, I don't believe in any gods or religions as a freethinker, but you have to admit there IS humor in the more extreme circumstances. I didn't come to this book with an agenda. I wanted to know the background of end-of-world predictions, and Sharan handily made that happen. Her prose is plain-spoken and pulls no punches.

Some groups and adherents were tragically misguided and were annihilated unjustly, no question of that. And then there were instances of groups all too eager to shed others' blood, who disagreed with them. Sad beyond doubt.
I have to wonder, in the larger sense of things: what the heck is with THAT? It's an age-old question and I'm not about to step into that pile of...whatever. People slaughter each other in the name of religion. Fact.

But there is a sticky matter of the end of the world which was heavily predicted, but never came to pass. Ever. And the people and sects in modern memory had stories to tell, even if it's just an accounting of their greed and decidedly unprincipled behavior.
It'll happen someday, but until then, enjoy your life and those around you who love you, commit to doing what's right, look beyond your own nose, be grateful for the good you find...and party like it's 1999. Or, 2013, since the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. Dang. Does this mean I have to shop for the holidays? Thanks for THAT one, Mayans!

I'm going with 4.5 stars on this one. I love the title, by the way!
Five Stars 28 July 2014
By Nick Farley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given as a gift.
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