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Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year AD 1000

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  334 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
An enthralling popular history of how the threatened Christian kingdoms of Europe converted, conquered, and slaughtered their way to dominance at the turn of the last millennium. of photos.
Hardcover, 299 pages
Published February 17th 1998 by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Steven Harbin
I thought this was an excellent well written book about an extremely interesting period of history, the the decades up to and immediately after the year 1000 C.E. or A.D. Reston, Jr. is a good writer who covers a variety of subjects, the Viking raids and conquests, the conflict between the Moors and Christians in Spain, and the Byzantine influence on eastern Europe, among other things.
If you enjoy this book I would recommend also checking out
The Long Ships, a historical novel by Frans Gunnar B
Mar 13, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, europe
James Reston illustrates how, at the end of the first millennium, Europe became more decidedly Christian than it had been before. Each region Christianized in a different way, some retained their previous customs along side of the new monotheism.

Given the paucity of the record, there is little to work with. Reston does a good job of knitting it into a readable work. He is clear in stating that source material is often poetry and myth so historians and readers need to beware.

Whether or not specif
Nov 29, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If motion picture technology had been available between 950 and 1000 AD, then this would a documentary about one of the greatest turning points in European history. The old order is crumbling: Charlemagne's once vast empire is in pieces, the papacy in Rome is fighting the rising influence Byzantium, England and France are facing the invading Vikings; Germany and Italy are up against the Hungarian Magyars, the Christians and the Moors are facing off in Iberia. These conflicts were so great that m ...more
Catherine Austen
May 15, 2011 Catherine Austen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved the story about King Olaf - I was so inspired I read the Heimskringla after this. I don`t remember too much else so I guess it`s time to reread. ...more
Nov 27, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

The short version: I have a number of issues with this book, but I recommend it nonetheless.

Reston's overarching theme is quite muddled. There was an apocalypse? But there wasn't? Oh the pagan armies of monstrous foes were baring down on Christianity? Oh, it was the clash of personalities over a period of decades? Huh? Ah, OK, the Christians beat out the pagans, so it was like an apocalypse for the pagans or an apocalypse in the 12th century sense of the triumph of 'good' over evil. I guess...Th
'Aussie Rick'
Nov 28, 2009 'Aussie Rick' rated it liked it
Shelves: history

James Reston's account of Europe during the years leading up to and at 1000 AD makes very interesting reading and is quite enjoyable. The first few chapters covered the Vikings and sometimes you felt as if the author was pulling your leg with some of the names of the people & leaders involved, eg; 'Forkbeard', 'Blueteeth' 'Bloodaxe', 'Lapking' and many others. But as you read further into the story you realised that these people were real and that they were some of the players on the stage d
Sarah(All The Book Blog Names Are Taken)
Not quite what I was expecting, but decently written nonetheless. Truthfully I'm not sure what I was expecting, though certainly the idea of the spread of Christianity was one of those things. I guess I was expecting a little more having to do with England's battle with the Vikings, but perhaps that was just my own bias and interest.

I did NOT enjoy the recreated conversations. Unless you know for a fact that exact conversation took place and those exact words came from someone's mouth, do not bo
Seth D Michaels
A mostly enjoyable history of turn-of-the-last millennium Europe - looking at the frontiers of Christianity in the Viking lands, Hungary and Moorish Spain, as well as the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. It very interestingly combines the harder sort of historical study with contemporary accounts - which is to say, songs and legends, taking them somewhat at face value as reflective of the way people experienced those times.

I just wish it had been a little better-written. The structure results i
Justin Covey
Not so much the history of the centuries surrounding 1000 AD as what was believed to be the history. This is the authors acknowledged position outlined in the introduction when he states he'll be repeating much of the oral history and epic tales about the time period. As long as this is kept in mind the story presented here is an enthralling one. On the negative side I wish the author more frequently told where he was getting his information and the book suffers terribly from a poor presentation ...more
Kathleen McRae
Jun 25, 2016 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an entertaining read and I am sure the author did his research. That being said he gave his list of characters a more human aspect by focusing on their part in this historical tale. I was aware that history has generally written by the victors even in that time and especially in that time because it was a warrior world with much political assignations dictating events. Political as in religious interference and marriages that cemented dynasties.I did note that women were very much absen ...more
Dec 22, 2011 Christa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An interesting take on early Medieval history relying mostly on oral histories. The author's goal was to look at what the people of the time believed to be their history and then sort out what seemed too impossible. I don't know that he was always successful here, especially as I have read several other histories of this period which contradict some of what he allows as fact, but the book is still informative and offers a different perspective than others that rely on archaeology, later historie ...more
Dec 06, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history
I was completely off-base with what I thought this book was and what it actually is (the back cover lied to me). I thought that it was about Christianity and the fears of the Apocalypse around the previous millennium. However, instead it's about the spread of Christianity and the conflicts when it ran into Paganism and Islam. It's about as historical as anything relating to the 10th century can be based when all you have is poems, stories and "history." The history is super interesting with a lo ...more
Xina Uhl
A lively, well-written account of a period in time that is often overshadowed by later, better documented eras. The details are entertaining and engrossing, and the characters really come to life. Some of the happenings seemed rather too close to the myths/stories they were probably taken from (for instance the wife who refused to allow her husband strands of her hair to string his bow with) but for the most part these anecdotes serve to strengthen the narrative rather than to detract from it. I ...more
Nov 06, 2012 John rated it really liked it
Interesting way of looking at a short span of time around 1000 A.D. Centered mainly in Europe (with some early history of Iceland), it is mainly concerned with the Christianization of those parts of the continent's hold-out areas by that time. The main players are the English, various groups of Vikings, Magyrs of Hungary, Byzantines, Italy, Saxons, Poles, and the Moors of Spain. It was a revelation to view this history a a slice of time, so much happening all at once. A lot of interesting new de ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Henry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent tale of Europe at the turn of the first millennium. What the author puts forward in this book is a very good portrayal of one of the turning points of world history by examining the people that shaped history then. That is not an easy task; reliable records of the time are not many. It adds to the wonder and mystery of the time. In the space of 50 years, be it by the sword, the scheming of politics or else Europe went from being predominantly pagan to being Christian.

I had
The book isn't a straight history tome but more of a narrative of the shakers and movers of the tenth century in Europe. It is an excellent introduction to th beginnings of the Holy Roman Empire and the forces that formed the beginnings of Europe as we know it. Reston looks minutely at the Vikings, the Moors, the Magyars, The Spanish and finally the Ottonian Dynasty in what would eventually become Germany. The book is infused with humour and is extremely readable even if you know nothing of the ...more
Steve Horton
Jun 04, 2011 Steve Horton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great survey of three of the apocalyptic forces (at least, to their contemporaries) that shaped Europe for the Modern Ages- the Vikings, Moors and Magyars. A great, accessible book that will appeal to anyone with interest in this time period, or of the overlapping influences that helped make Europe what it is today.

From Pete Rose to Jonestown to the High Middle Ages, there is nothing Reston can not write about and make it fascinating. Highly recommended.
Neil Robb
Feb 11, 2013 Neil Robb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The years 950 - 1000 C.E. were tremendously important in the composition of Europe for the next 1,000 years. The Viking scourge was coming to an end. The Moors were trying to hold on in Iberia, the British Isles were still in play by the Danes. Central Europe was experiencing almost continuous warfare. This author brings all of these elements together in a coherent and exciting fashion. Reads like a novel.
Dec 09, 2010 Alvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vivid account of the leading political personalities in Europe at 1000 AD. As one might expect, they were pretty much a bunch of bloodthirsty scoundrels mired in superstition and ignorance. For the most part, Reston keeps the action moving, but I would still have preferred a bit more summary. I'd also have prefereed A little social history, how the ordinary peasant spent the day, just to round out the picture. Overall, though, a fine read.
Mar 02, 2013 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Covers a fascinating period of time, around 1000AD when Christianity was more of a political movement. Describe how many of the European countries of today were formed around the various shifting squabbling kingdoms and their ruthless leaders, in relation to the Catholic Church establishment of their own power. Stuff they never taught us in school. Well researched. Got me interested in this dark, world-changing, tumultuous period of time.
Jul 10, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
This is an enjoyable quick read. Any of these chapters could warrant their own books, really. I like the reliance on oral history in addition to what can be concretely backed up--makes the figures really come alive.

The "portrait" chapters give the book a certain lack of focus (it's very hard to follow what Reston is trying to do), and unfortunately the lack of focus becomes more pronounced the further along you go.
Jul 30, 2015 Randi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Found it at a used book store in Sebastopol,CA. As a big history fan and genealogy hobbyist, this book represented many of the areas where my ancestors were from in the year 1000ad.
Essentially, nothing has changed in the political/religious arena at all. Men crying Fatwa, Crusaders, Vikings all trying to loot the world. It's all rather depressing, in a way!
Randi Kennedy
This book could have used some serious editing. I was engaged the first three quarters, but towards the end I had to skim. There were factual inconsistencies and some silly copy editing errors that were distracting, not to mention the persistent use of the negatively connoted term heathen. Overall, I liked the first half and could have skipped he second.
I liked this book because it focuses on European history during the turn of the last millenium (hence the title), an era I'm not very familiar with. I felt like Reston might have been stretching to make some of his points, but the information was fascinating nonetheless.
Sep 16, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me ages to finish this one, because I was only reading it before bed at night (which occasionally gave me weird dreams!). An interesting history of European cultures at the turn of the first millennium.
Michael Alan Grapin
The Last Apocalypse chronicles the spread of Christianity, often at the point of a sword, throughout Europe as the world approached the first millennium. Paganism was besieged and Islamic Jihad thwarted as Europe trembled in fear over what the new millennium might portend.
Jan 09, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really well written. Although it focuses on the year 1000 AD, Reston pulls together a lot of history. He provided a wonderful summary while giving the reader an excellent impression of the European world at the turn of the first century, and the major change it underwent.
Tim Schaffer
Jan 03, 2013 Tim Schaffer rated it really liked it
I've read some reviews that pick on Reston for mixing history and legend - too much of each to be rightly considered the other - but I thought it was entertaining, thought provoking, and informative. The old Norse names alone are worth the read!
Jan 05, 2010 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A history of Europe at 1000A.D. Narrative deals with the time period from around 900 - 1050 dealing with the conversion of Europe from primarily a pagan area to a Christian area focusing on political and religious figures who helped make that shift.
Oct 29, 2014 Greg rated it liked it
Written before the turn of the current millennium, this book takes a look back at the 1st millennium and some of the fears of the "end of times" that were rampant back then.
Kind of interesting, but also lacking in overall thrust.
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James Reston Jr. (born 1941, New York City) is an American author and journalist. His father was the American journalist James Reston.

Reston was raised in Washington, D.C. He earned his BA in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) while on a Morehead Scholarship. At UNC, he was an All-South soccer player, and retains the single game scoring record for the university (5
More about James Reston Jr....

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