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This is the Way the World Ends Paperback – 31 Dec 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: Thomson Learning; 1st Harvest Ed edition (31 Dec. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156002086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156002080
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,952,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

James Morrow had published SF novels before, but This Is the Way the World Ends (1986) reached a new level of intensity, tackling World War III horrors with ultra-black magic realism plus a touch of Lewis Carroll. Like George Orwell's 1984, it still packs a grim punch although history took another course.

As the Cold War heats up, Americans frantically buy "scopas suits"(Self-COntained Post-Attack Survival) as protection against nukes. Tombstone engraver George Paxton can't afford one for his young daughter, until a strange old woman commissions epitaphs for her "parents" and pays by directing him to a magic shop where the scopas suit costs only his signature--acknowledging responsibility for any nuclear war. Soon we realise George's improvised epitaphs are for Eve, Adam and everyone:

She was better than she knew. He never found out what he was doing here.

Whimsy and social satire give way to nightmare as the missiles fall, scopas suits prove useless, and post-nuclear hell is painted in stomach-churning detail: flashburns, melted eyes, shattered people begging for death.

George, though, is rescued. As one of six who signed the McMurdo Sound Agreement, he must stand trial in Antarctica for complicity in murdering humanity. Prosecution, defenders, judges and police are the "unadmitted", unborn future generations now denied real life, whose sheer rage has won them temporary existence. Old disarmament and deterrence arguments, wittily rehashed in the Nuremberg-like court, seem all too different after the worst has happened. This queasy tragicomedy isn't easily forgotten. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A lacerating Swiftian satire on nuclear war, like 1984 before it, THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS stands as a stark warning of the path history so easily might have taken - and still could ... --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Nov. 1997
Format: Paperback
Though the summary might suggest I did not enjoy this book, very little could be further from the truth. I thought this book was poignant and meaningful. Its subject-matter is a bit dated since the fall of the Soviet Union, but it is still a tale that packs a moral punch for today's society. As with most apocalyptic novels, the book seems to be a bit far-fetched in places. However, instead of trying to defend this as realism, Morrow goes overboard in his insanity for maximum potency. George Paxton, an average everyman, is thrown into a group of military personnel and technological geniuses responsible for the end of the world by signing a contract pledging his complicity in the nuclear arms race, and must answer for the crimes against humanity and against those who never had the chance to live. The references to Nostradamus as the narrator are lively and cleanse the literary palate quite effectively. I would not say that this is Morrow's best work to date, but perhaps the one of his works that deals most effectively with the frail yet arrogant human society.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
This book holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first James Morrow book I read. Others I have spoken to about Mr. Morrow, and reviews I have read here and elsewhere, appear to confirm that those touched once by his magical imagination remain lifelong converts. This book manages in turns to entertain with humour whilst simultaneously highlighting the madness surrounding military strategic thinking at the height of the Cold War. It also contains some of the most poignant imagery I have encountered in literature, especially the hero's attempts to come to terms with the loss of his young daughter. A number of excellent cameo appearances by Nostradamus round off a book for all serious-thinking literature fans.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Jun. 1998
Format: Paperback
In the same vein as the black comedy "Dr. Strangelove", "This Is The Way The World Ends" is a true achievement in cautionary satire. The men who helped launch the war and the civilian fighting for his life are held accountable for the world's destruction. Paxton's near-death and final reckoning with his family are among the most poignant work in any piece of fiction I've ever read.
To remember just how real the nuclear threat was not even so long ago, "This Is The Way The World Ends" is an absolute must-read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE on 13 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What starts out as what you think as a typical post apocalyse novel rapidly goes off into some very strange territory with a trial for six people judged as responsible for global nuclear war - but it is done by the people who never got a chance to live a result
The arguments around why you would have nuclear weapons are well done , and quite familiar (MAD is a great acronym) and the grim inevitability is very well done - but for me it was just a little too 'out there'
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
In order to distract a young boy whose mother is giving birth in the next room, Dr Michel de Nostradame, aka Nostradamus, performs a slideshow, (using a picture thrower recently invented by his good friend Leonardo) describing the end of the world. He admits that he wrote all his prophecies as obscurely as possible simply because he knows people in the future will are confused by them.
All this comes in the first few pages, the body of the book is concerned with the story he tells. It concerns an everyman figure who is worried that his daughter might not survive a nuclear war and is persuaded to sign a VERY unusual contract in order to purchase the only radiation suit in the world that would actually protect the wearer properly. After he has bought it for her, Morrow shows his penchant for irony by starting WW3 before he can get it home to her.
He spends most of the book finding out why the war happened and being put on trial for complicity in nuclear armageddon by the ghosts of those who were never born.
This was the first Morrow book I ever read, and it convinced me to pick up all his other books as soon as I see them. It is highly imaginative, exceedingly well written, and unlike much of his other work, not unkind to God.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 May 1997
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading This is the Way the World Ends for the third time. I could read it another three times in the next week. It's a very visual book, never lacking in description. From the effects of radiation sickness to the plummage of a Teratornis, Morrow has delivered exactly the right amount of storytelling--not so little that you don't understand it, and not so much that you find yourself peeking ahead to the next chapter for a change of pace. It's worth the cover price just to hear Nostrodamus trying to explain twentieth century colloquialisms. --Darren James
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Library copy first read aeons ago, recently re-Kindled. As good now as it was on first reading nearly thirty years ago. Even the Cold- War-boiling-over backdrop doesn't seem particularly dated - MAD still relevant even though the weapons and the enemies might have changed (not necessarily for the better). The main characters are portrayed in-depth (in more ways than one) with good word economy.For the most part, it's very well paced. Comes to more than one conclusion and the pace and story in the middle strand out a bit before coming back together. A very emotive story not for the terminally depressed, though the clever framework does allow for a teensy bit of hope to shine through.
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