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A Brief History of the End of the World: Apocalyptic Beliefs from Revelation to UFO Cults
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A Brief History of the End of the World: Apocalyptic Beliefs from Revelation to UFO Cults

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  28 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Most people's concept of the 'end of the world' comes from the book of Revelation. Today, there are an estimated 25 million Christian fundamentalists in the US who believe it will come with the 'Rapture;' others point to an ecological catastrophe, the AIDS pandemic, nuclear and biological warfare. With the benefit of a vast historical canvas, Pearson examines both apocalyp ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Running Press (first published August 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 75)
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Absorbing, and interesting, I found it easy to read and sped through it. Whilst fascinating, it is also rather depressing that humans have not learnt from all their many mistakes over the milennia and there are still a LOT of very VERY easily led people out there - and I don't understand it! Pearson's book is a magnum opus of his topic; brilliantly researched, it's exactly what it says in the title - an overview; a brief history of apocalyptic views and beliefs. Seeing it all written out in chro ...more
I really enjoyed this book. The introduction gave me some misgivings because it was so general, but as soon as I got into the first chapter ("The Origins of Apocalyptic Faith") I was learning something new on every page. Pearson traces apocalyptic belief from Zoroastrianism to Judaism to Christianity to Islam. His focus on the Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity, in the Middle East, Europe, and the Unite States means that you don't hear much about other religions' ideas on the end of th ...more
Revelation indeed, it was astonishing to read about all the "prophecies" of the end of the world people will believe. It is a real challenge to decide if they are all born this stupid or if it takes real effort to achieve that level of mindlessness.

Well written and informative. Pearson tries to be non-judgmental about his subject matter but the sheer absurdity of it all (except for the eco-disaster part) makes this a seemingly unattainable goal. Also, it was interesting to read about the religi
The first half held up alright, but was disappointing in its overwhelming focus on Abrahamic mythology. Assigning only three pages to Ragnarok and fully ignoring other end of the world scenarios from non-western or non-Abrahamic faith.

The second half pretty much reads like blame the Religious right, Blah blah blah Bush, Global warming is real guys... tune in to CNN for more of the same.

Also Pearson seriously needs to learn about the common courtesy of giving spoiler warnings.
Feb 06, 2012 Tim added it
I have a scholarly interest in millennial movements, so I gravitate to books like this. In this case, there is no need for anyone else to do so. This is a rather slipshod survey, based on a handful of secondary sources, that rumbles through the centuries, like many surveys before it. Unfortunately, this history isn't so much brief as superficial, and riddled with errors and unsupported generalizations.
Nothing makes a silly idea more obvious than lining them all up together. Reading through a long list of the times people have been certain the world will end makes it a lot easier to shake off the next looney who thinks the end is nigh.
Kathleen McRae
Ploughing through the old testament with the author in the first half of the book took a bit of endurance but as he consolidated his story in the later chapters I found it interesting and in some cases I agreed
A decent-enough summary of various historical perspectives and beliefs concerning the end of the world.

A bit light on the details at times, perhaps, but a fairly satisfying overview of the basics.
Marcie Shearl
For the "End of the world" Class. I like how it sums up the Bible. So far it is a quick read.
H Wesselius
a fun read on the dangers of linear history and a fear of mortality.
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