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Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World
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Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In Have a Nice Doomsday, Nicholas Guyatt searches for the truth behind a startling statistic: 50 million Americans have come to believe that the apocalypse will take place in their lifetime. They're convinced that, any day now, Jesus will snatch up his followers and spirit them to heaven. The rest of us will be left behind to endure massive earthquakes, devastating wars, a ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Harper Perennial
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3.45  · 
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 ·  163 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
When I was young I was told that Jesus would come back like a "thief in the night." It was said to me like it was a golden, glowing promise- something sweet and something sure to happen any day now. The words thief and night scared me to death, and since I was also told that no one would know the hour of his coming I would every day wake up and say with as much certainty as I could muster, "Jesus is coming back today" just to make sure that he wouldn't.
That said, I totally got this book. I kn
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
I am so fascinated by apocalyptic culture and this is a great look into some of the US's famous personalities like Tim La Haye, Joel Rosenberg and John Hagee. Their political influence is pretty frightening, especially the fact that they are used as "middle east experts" on Fox news without disclosing that they believe war in the Middle East will hasten the apocalypse and their own rapture!!
Feb 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What you'll think of this book depends on what you're expecting it to be.

If, like me, you're expecting a gentle mickey-take of wacky American preachers rooted in end-times prophecy (as you'd expect from the title and my edition's cover) you'll be disappointed.

The book is reasonably easy to read in most places, although I got stuck around chapters 3-4, when you suddenly hit a block of solid history, detailing apocalyptic thinking from the past few hundred years for 50 pages or so. Once you get b
David Rush
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
While mainly about American prophecy writers, I enjoyed the historical review of apocalyptic thought from the start of Christianity to Cromwell in England. (Shout out to the 5th Monarchist and their bloody fight in January 1661)

For Americans, It was intriguing that for a time America was thought of as the safe place for Satan and his minions (the native Americans), or so said the leading British prophecy guy or the 17th century Joseph Mede.

But the killer stuff starts with William Miller in the
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Have a Nice Doomsday" is a delightful read, but I start off with a caution - if you expect the book to answer the question on the subtitle, "Why millions of Americans are looking forward to the end of the world," you will leave disappointed. Looking past this, I strongly recommend this book.

A British historian is intrigued by the popularity of the Left Behind series. Americans used to thrive on the ideology that God had predestined America to be a light to the world, a shining city on the hill
Mar 30, 2008 rated it liked it
An interesting read. The author interviews several well known evangelical christian leaders with the end of the world as the main topic of discussion. He pokes and prods, suggests and intimates, but never comes out and says what he seems to be thinking (and probably what many people who choose to read this book are thinking)...he shifts back and forth between a slightly mocking tone of narration and that of a serious interviewer/journalist. Just when you think he's gonna hit you with his punch l ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the influence of Christian fundamentalism on American politics.
I was very excited about this book and found myself a little dissapointed by the end. A great idea--exploring why more than 50 million Americans believe that the Second Coming, or at least the Rapture, will happen in their lifetime and the influence that this belief has on American foriegn policy--ended up feeling forced and kind of shallow. The author didn't even try to hide his condecension when interviewing and reviewing Bible prophecy enthusiasts, which I think it pretty irresponsible for re ...more
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
It is bizarre that so many people are taken in by these ideas, but it is an interesting read. Nicholas Guyatt is a Brit who tries to understand the American doomsday prophets and their message.
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent! In fact, it really explains it all... I get it now.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
A pretty good report on the phenomena of Apocalyptic Christianity in America. The tone was more respectful than the goofy title and cover led me to believe it would be. At the same time this is no somber report. The book is breezy and conversational. More an overview than an in depth study.

The history of End Times belief is followed from its origins in England and we are shown how those beliefs moved to the New World even as they faded from Europe. This history was pretty light, but that wasn’t
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked this book, although I don't think it ever really answered "why millions of Americans are looking forward to the end of the world." It did answer why a few influential evangelical pastors and writers might be, though.
Guyatt interviews some of the key poeple in the "End Times" movement and also does a good job giving a broad history of Christian end time phrophecy beliefs (all of which did not go according to predictions). Guyatt does use a kind of humorous, slightly mocking tone in his wr
Throughout this book, I kept waiting for Nicholas Guyatt to come out and say that he thought the apocalyptic believers he was interviewing were a bunch of nutjobs. That's what I felt he kept building up to. He kept pointing out how wild some of their predictions/prophecies were, and how some of their predictions/prophecies failed. He also repeatedly pointed out how today's apocalyptic preacher's predecessors had been mocked in the past when their predictions didn't come true. But Guyatt didn't l ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in various religious beliefs.
Recommended to Michael by: I found it on the shelf at the library.
This book is one man's tour through the Christian Apocalypse movement. If you've ever read any of the "Left Behind" series by Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins, then you have some idea of what this particular subset of Christians believes. If you haven't, then the basic idea is that the Bible basically lays out how world events will (and are) working out God's plan to bring about the end of life as we know it and usher in a new theocratic reign led by Jesus Christ.

I can say that, having been raised i
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written easy read book and attempts to deal fairly with the people interviewed and their beliefs. The author tries to find out how such beliefs came about and what sustains them. He also looks at why they have evolved and how they are portrayed depending on the messenger.

It's hard not to see that the author feels that the beliefs are "odd" and not his own but he tries valiantly not to say that.

If your reading this book you probably already have firm views of the Rapture and this b
Marian Weaver
Jan 08, 2014 rated it liked it

Although this book is a little dated (having been written in 2007), it's a fascinating overview of some of the biggest names in the apocalyptic Christian movement. Guyatt interviews everyone from the 1970s 'prophet' Hal Lindsey (author of the hipper-than-thou The Late Great Planet Earth) to Tim LaHaye, the driving force behind the infamous Left Behind series. For the most part, the interviews are conducted politely and Guyatt gives every impression that he sincerely wants to know the story behin
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was difficult to read due to the subject matter but it is well worth the time to read if you are curious about the current perverse obsession in some parts of the US with the mythical End Times. I was particularly distressed that prophecy enthusiasts like John Hagee and Joel Rosenthal are presented as "Middle Eastern experts" on Fox News without their true backgrounds being explained (they are fomenting their opinions on current events from poring over the Old Testament, not from any s ...more
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book a full five stars.

It is difficult to add on to other positive reviews of this book. Like other readers, I could personally relate to this story. I grew up with a fundamentalist christian parent. I knew all about end time prophecies. I remember hearing about the rapture, the Great Tribulation, and how Jesus would come like a "thief in the night." So I was very interested in the topic. And it is a strange topic, but millions take it very seriously.

Guyatt tracks down and interviews
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Guyatt does not clearly answer the question he sets out to: why, exactly, Americans are looking forward to the end of the world, and particularly why these same Americans are involved in the political machinations of a country in its last days. Nor will Guyatt's book be at all surprising to someone who grew up in conservative evangelical churches.

Nevertheless, Guyatt encounters a wide variety of Rapture believers and Rapture theories in the book. These he describes thoroughly, politely, and hum
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Interesting book on the resurgence of Bible based prophecy in the US and also the phenomenon that is the massive selling Left Behind books that deal with the Rapture, and the increasing political and media influence of apocolyptic preachers like John Hagee who appears regularly on Fox News calling for the invasion of Iran and suchlike. (Although he believes that the invasion of Iran is an essential part of the hastening of End Times, this is rarely pointed out when he appears on Fox).

It features
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susie Meister
Recommended to Kate by: Vesna
The British-born author tackles two key questions:
Why do so many Americans believe the world is about to end? (50 million Americans believe the Apocalypse will happen within their lifetime.)
And should the rest of us be worried that they do? (Many leaders in this movement are actively involved in politics.)

Pretty interesting, though by the end I was getting a bit confused as to which Apocalyptic preacher was which. The author also does a very good job of weaving in a history of various religiou
Tom Griffith
Quite an engaging read, but nowhere near as incisive and penetrating as I would have liked. Guyatt lets these nutbags spout their irrational nonsense without really questioning it, and portrays them in a cutesy-Americana kind of way which belies their dangerous and frightening mindsets. However, he does a good job of covering the issue of apocalyptic Christianity, and he has further increased my scepticism of anyone who calls themselves a prophet or evangelical.
I figured this would be a comparatively painless way to learn about apocalyptic Christians, and it is--well written and humorous. Doesn't make the apocalyptic Christians and their agenda any less scary though.

I'm halfway through now and the story continues to be informative (in matters ranging from Biblical quotations to Cromwell-era British prophetic theology) and an interesting, occasionally tongue-in-cheek humorous read.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I expected this to be quite scholarly but it had more of a journalistic edge. Guyatt's interviews and insights are intriguing but he fails to address his primary thesis directly which makes the book seem more like a collection of experiences and anecdotes with little histories rather than a large, coherent work focused on the question of how much influence right wing evangelicals have on American politics and to what extent the movement is homogeneous and organized.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
While this is an interesting read full of all sorts of entertaining and enlightening tidbits I can't help but feel the author failed to make any sort of coherent point. This is more like a collection of interviews with apocalyptic authors than the examination of Apocalyptic Christianity on American politics that it claims to be.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
scary...scary to know that some people actually believe what is in this book, and scary to think that it isnt just a couple of people, it is MILLIONS!!!

a very interesting book with a lot of concepts and ideas i had never heard before relating to the apparent impending rapture and biblical apocalypse that we all will face very soon...
Shannon Reed
This is interesting - a good overview of Rapture theology and the men who have propagated it in America. They are sexist, racist and homophobic, which makes for a maddening read... while the author's tone is very even keeled, I really wanted him to scream "What? WHAT?? You're INSANE!" from time to time. Ah well. I suppose that's why I am not a journalist anymore.
Tim Lundquist
Mildly interesting. The title is much more provocative than the book itself, which feels like a long-winded Harper's Essay. Some interesting details on inter-evangelical feuding, which I know little and care even less about.
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
Since I am already familiar with apocalyptic culture, this book did not hold any great surprises to me. The most interesting part was the description of the "Left Behind" video game, which made me laugh out loud in horror.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a sub-group who think sanity is overrated, this book suggests a noteworthy candidate. Guyatt does come off a bit judgy, but hey – who can blame the guy? Religious theories about Gog and Magog, the UN and the rapture are mind-boggling.
Jonathan Tennis
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm fascinated with the post-apocalyptic world in fiction but not in real life. The people in this book are really, really excited about the prospect of the end times. And that's scary.
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