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The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Thinking Tells Us about America
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The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Thinking Tells Us about America

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  22 reviews
During the first dozen years of the twenty-first century, apocalyptic anticipation in America has leapt from the cultish to the mainstream. Today, nearly 60 percent of Americans believe that the events foretold in the book of Revelation will come true. But many secular readers also seem hungry for catastrophe and have propelled books about peak oil, global warming, and the ...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Prometheus Books (first published March 6th 2011)
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Will
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
This book came to me through the wonderful Goodreads First Reads program! Thank you to the authors and to Goodreads!

The first half of this book deals with the history of a question I have wondered about. How did we get to become a society fascinated with the end of the world? Is it our nature to always get to the end of things or what? There had to be a point where our thinking and reasoning changed, and this book explains how that came to be. It also looking into how the last decade has become
...more
James
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I wish I could rate this book higher. It addresses an important topic, and it’s helped me to rethink an unhealthy personal preoccupation. The authors clearly put a lot of thought into their subject, and their ideas could help readjust the focus of public discourse in the US at a time when we really need it. The central thesis here is that apocalyptic thinking has commandeered our psychological approach to a number of national and global challenges, and it leads us to obsess about moments yet to ...more
Aryn
Just realized I never got around to reviewing this book. Now where did my copy that Goodreads First Reads sent me run off to? Ah. There it is.

Now this book claims that it talks about how Apocalyptic thinking has changed Western Culture, and how exactly that it came to be so prevalent. I don't think it very effectively tackled the first point.

However, I think that the theory behind the second point was fascinating. In our ancient past, "there was no such thing as novelty." Nothing that people
...more
Panther Palmer  The Premier Kintu Prime
This will go down as one of my favorite summer reads of 2012. Great insights and analysis on why apocalyptic thinking persist in the U.S. Apocalyptic thinking is embedded in the language and functions as a way to shut down cogent and intelligent analysis of any given crisis. Fear is the handmaiden of fascism while intellectual and sober discussion is the scourge of the oppressor. This book helps to deconstruct what is really going on spiritually and ideologically. The authors makes a strong ...more
David Rosen
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I see "The Last Myth" in Your Future

"The Last Myth" has earned its place alongside Philip Zimbardo's "The Time Paradox" and I.F. Clarke's "The Pattern of Expectation" as one of the best books on humanity's concept of the future. While its title promises an exploration of how apocalyptic thinking evolved, authors Mathew Barrett Gross and Mel Gilles also serve up answers to two other big questions: why did humanity change from thinking that time is circular to linear, and how has the idea of
...more
Benjamin Thompson
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Matthew Gross paints an interesting picture of human history in this book. In particular, he argues that the major force in 21st century culture is the belief that the end is nigh. More accurately, what is driving, or stifling, our civilization is the belief that the future is both inevitable and cataclysmic. He swiftly blows through the rise of this belief in a fixed through the rise of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is at this point that Gross seems to provide the least amount of research ...more
Erica
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a good, fast read, but I was expecting something a bit more from it. (Which perhaps points to the space it leaves open for another, more academic book of its kind.)
Some incredible factoids, some good research and thinking, but I think there's more work to be done.

The book focuses not so much on apocalyptic thinking or apocalyptic culture persay, but does a very good job of mapping apocalyptic thinking's rise, and links it with global history and trends about the belief of time. Instead
...more
Melanie
Apr 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I wish I could give a book on this topic more than three stars, but this one is, in my opinion, poorly written.

Although the author does not intend to, he often confuses the reader about whether there is any difference between an imaginary apocalypse based on religion and a potential apocalypse based on human actions and scientific advances. Occasionally he makes this distinction clear, but more often than not, he does not.

He does make a strong case that American society is obsessed with the
...more
Mel
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I really glad I did. This is not the type of book I typically pick up, but it was such an interesting read. This book is an easy-to-read investigation into the apocalyptic views that permeate the world today. It investigates the development of this way of thinking, as well as how it has shaped our decisions and responses to other areas of our lives. As a Christian, I found it particularly fascinating how religion affected and was affected by this ...more
Kai
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The Last Myth summarizes everything that we think would be the apocalypse from Western belief to Eastern belief. We as human being have a fascination regarding the End of Days from a religious stand to a mythical stand. We wonder about the what ifs.

The Bible's Revelations has spelled out how the world is going to end but there is no timeline as in when the world is going to end. The Mayan Calender gave us the timeline but why and how is questionable. Will the world ends on December 21, 2012?

Let
...more
Jennie
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, library
I really liked this book. My favorite genres in fiction books are post apocalyptic and christian fiction mostly about the end of the world. This book definitely put my feet back on the ground when my imagination takes me somewhere else.
It touches on our thinking about the end of the world. It talked about the hysteria of Y2K and the dreaded Mayan 12/21/12 ending. They put everything in a perfect perspective. I always wondered where this whole apocalypse came about and it explains it's origin
...more
Lynne Premo
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book over just a couple days, I found it that interesting. The authors cover a lot of bases here, from the historical background that led to the societal mindshift that led to the first apocalyptic myths to the reasons why apocalyptic thinking is so prevalent in much of mainstream American society now. But these aren't just discrete points in human history; a thread ties them all together. What impressed me most, however, is how the authors went a step further in the modern-day ...more
Amanda
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Matthew Gross and Mel Gilles have ‘lifted the veil’ on when and where apocalyptic thinking began and how and why it has evolved throughout the years in their book The Last Myth.
This book will challenge/trigger/ignite people regardless of their current or past belief systems.
From ancient Jewish apocalypticism to modern apocalyptic thought(s) the book delves into the religious and political beliefs as well as the secular ideas that shape so much of our daily lives.
Thankfully the two were able
...more
David Richardson
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book for free from the Goodreads first-read giveaway. A very interesting book about the way mankind views the end of the world. It talks of different ways the world may end but mainly focuses on how we came to dwell so much on the apocalypse. What makes us think this way? Is it religion, climate change, the economy, ancient history, the atomic bomb, or something else?
Helpful hint: Get out your dictionary before you even start this one. I have never read a book that had so many
...more
Alison
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and reassuring, although I think the authors confuse complete physical destruction of the world with the collapse of civilization, and spend too much time scolding people for believing that the former is imminent when, in fact, I think more people are concerned about the latter, and the authors even acknowledge that the latter is far from rare. The book feels incomplete, but it is still worth the read if this is a subject that interests you.
Natalie
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I've dreamt about the apocalypse since I can remember. This book was very illuminating, but it could have been more concise. It was full of generalizations, and although the author seems to back up his claims, the sources are not always credible. Still, The Last Myth is worth a skim or speed-read! My dreams have changed already. :)
Angela
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Now more than half way through & it is a book with some very good factiods & makes you think about the world ending - why are we a nation fascinated about the end of the world?

Long going in parts - but certainly gives you things to think about.
Ethan
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book succinctly explains why I cringe every time I hear about "economic growth". An important book, easy to read - recommended to everyone.
Rochelle
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive and thought provoking look at the Apocalypse, and the influence it has on our American worldview. Excellent!
Patti
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting
Bailey
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book deals with a very important topic. The authors have very clearly done a lot of research and are very committed to the topic but they start to get repetitive.
Darcy
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads

Interesting, detailed, insightful, well worth reading! I received this book in the Goodreads giveaway.
Cheryl
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Apr 25, 2012
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Mathew Barrett Gross "rewrote the rules of presidential politics" as the director of Internet Communications for Howard Dean's groundbreaking 2003-2004 presidential campaign. Highly regarded as a new media strategist, he has consulted for numerous political campaigns, advocacy organizations, and global NGOs, and has been profiled in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, ...more
“A life is no less valuable or beloved if one lives in an age of decline, than in an age of progress.” 1 likes
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