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The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  5,846 ratings  ·  679 reviews
The creator of the wildly popular award-winning podcast Hardcore History looks at some of the apocalyptic moments from the past as a way to frame the challenges of the future.

Do tough times create tougher people? Can humanity handle the power of its weapons without destroying itself? Will human technology or capabilities ever peak or regress? No one knows the answers to su
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by William Collins
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Tyler Allen This is the Hardcore History Website
If you search Hardcore History on any podcast platform it should show up.…more
This is the Hardcore History Website
If you search Hardcore History on any podcast platform it should show up.(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  5,846 ratings  ·  679 reviews

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Start your review of The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Unlike many of the other reviewers here, I have actually listened to the podcast. I’ve been a fan of Hardcore History and Dan Carlin’s unique and chatty approach to the subject for years. I’ve noticed that every chapter in this book is essentially a reworked past episode of the podcast. I’m not complaining. Stringing them together into a book with a common theme is brilliant. A number of the other episodes that weren’t covered in this book, the epically long ones, would also make great books.

Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Are you someone who is concerned that, due to your sheltered upbringing, you’ve inherited an optimism bias which makes it difficult to conceive of bad things happening to you? Do you feel as if this extends more broadly to the idea that people in affluent parts of the world have lost the tragic sense of history? That, for them, history is something to read about, but never lived through? This book may just blast you in the chest with the force of a frozen turkey fired from a howitzer. Have you e ...more
Riku Sayuj
A hundred years ago, humankind went through one of the worst phases in their history. A world war, a global pandemic and then another world war. We survived. After that, a lot of measures were put into place to ensure we don’t have to go through such devastation again. World War 3 is something we dread whenever the slightest international diplomacy failure happens. And it has worked, to an extent. We haven’t had to face a World War again. However, we haven’t been as vigilant about Global Pandemi ...more
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Based on a podcast, this is an interesting jump into the world of history, but not quite as we known it. Dan Carlin examines some of the disasters of our history to determine their likelihood of ever happening again, as well as how they occurred in the first place. It’s grand scale history, sweeping us through the ages and inviting the reader to think about the what ifs and near misses of our pasts.

At times I found the subject mat
Samwell Maximus
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well that was underwhelming. If you have listened to his podcasts prepare to hear everything you’ve already heard before; Dan doesn’t try at all to come up with any new stories, questions, or ways of explaining the same stories from history. (Hint: Planet of the Apes reference Incoming) This book does not cover new territory but feels like he just looked through his old research notes and put them all together.
but I believe the book should be rated aside from connection to his podcast. I was ex
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction, war
I have never listened to the podcast that this book is based on, but found it incredibly thought-provoking. At it's heart it's a philosophical take on history looking at how famine, plague, war and other calamities come about, what there effects were and then asking the question of could they happen again? Is our civilisation genuinely different from the Assyrians or Romans who didn't think that their empires could fall either?

In a weird way, I think this book is akin to Sapiens: A Brief Histor
Jim Cooper
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
This is a book about systems. Carlin tells stories from across history about civilizations, and how a set of choices can affect a civilization in unintended ways.

These stories aren’t all exactly connected to each other, except that they are all under the theme of civilizations as a system. This is kind of like a Malcolm Gladwell book, except Gladwell tells stories to try and prove a point. Carlin isn’t interested in proving a point, or explaining a definitive answer to a question. Carlin just li
Ryan Boissonneault
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
The principal question for the modern age is this: Has humanity made moral progress, or are we destined to repeat the same mistakes and suffer the same misfortunes? Dan Carlin, founder of the popular podcast Hardcore History, explores this question as he recounts the apocalyptic moments of our past while asking if the modern world is destined to face similar catastrophes, and if so, whether or not we have the resolve to handle them.

Carlin covers the Bronze Age collapse, the fall of the Assyrian
Andrej Karpathy
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I understand that some of the book's content has appeared in Dan's Hardcore History podcasts, but since I've only listened to a sparse few a lot of the book was relatively new material to me.

I thought the premise of the book was excellent: Things look quite good right now and it's hard to imagine civilization regressing substantially, but history is filled with examples of exactly that over and over again. Just how optimistic should we be today that we can avert the same fate?

I expect that Dan
Jan 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This book is totally pointless. It's merely a listing of the most famous apocalyptic moments in history. It offers no new revelations. The author argues no point, makes no conclusions. I'm not sure why he even wrote the thing. I bought the book as I was searching for some material on the Bronze Age Collapse and I did enjoy that section of the book but the rest of the book? I'm just pleased that it was short. Dreadful. Run away from this book. ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had not listened to the podcast, but I love the premise of this book—in the span of human history, world-threatening wars and catastrophes are a constant reality. Carlin has a way of talking about these events that make them feel more real and relevant than most histories
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is parsing past history within setting generalization posits. I was super disappointed. Portions I skim read. I love history and got something very unlike what the title surmised to my meeting it or in anticipation.

It's not "super bad" quality for most readers. No. But for me or any true students who hold depth homo sapiens historic study within their backgrounds, this just won't fill the bill. It just won't at all. If it was beer it would be the "super light" variety.

It merely disseminates
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The themes of this book will be familiar to listeners of the Hardcore History podcast, as Dan Carlin has touched on them before, particularly in the early episodes (before the podcast became super long). Here, those themes are fleshed out in more detail. The book maintains the same engaging style that made me fall in love with the podcast.
Brendan Monroe
If you haven't listened to Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcast, do yourself a favor and download it now.

I first heard of Dan Carlin thanks to an interview the author Sam Harris gave to The Guardian back in 2015. Harris mentioned Carlin's podcast and before long I'd downloaded all 50+ episodes and was instantly hooked. The only problem is that Carlin, who releases long-form podcasts that often exceed four hours, only produces one to two podcasts a year, so the wait time is real.

I particularl
Alex Sarll
I don't really do podcasts; as a rule, I'd rather read something at my own speed than listen to it. So when a noted podcaster, here of Hardcore History, has the courtesy to transfer to my preferred format, it seems only fair that I should take a look at the result. Alas, it does not get off to a good start; the preface is only ten pages long but I still lost count of the number of times he says that considering the idea our civilisation could collapse, as so many have in the past, seems like som ...more
Jack Quinn
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dan Carlin was as excellent as ever with this book. It was thought-provoking, and interesting throughout. I would highly recommend it to history nerds and people interested in extreme situations that people throughout history have dealt with.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I mean, sure, Dan Carlin is an absolute treasure, but I'm unclear on why this book exists. It's all retreads from his podcast, but with less depth (stories he would have spent 3-4 hours delightfully rambling on about condensed to about a quarter of that), and with no real positive tradeoff for that. I was thinking it'd either be a more rigorous work of history— better sourced, maybe, or less grandiose— or more tightly plotted— weaving more narratives together, linking themes more clearly, introd ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Apparently it's a miracle we still exist. ...more
James Tullos
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
See my full thoughts here:

I don't review much nonfiction, but I really liked this one. It's an examination of the end of civilizations, how people at the time felt about it, and how it relates to our modern world. By looking at things like the Black Death, the Bronze Age Collapse, and the end of the Assyrian Empire, Dan Carlin tries to give a new perspective on what "the end of the world" really means.

And it works for the most part. I enjoyed getting his perspective
John Devlin
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Carlin’s a renaissance man trapped in the specialist 21st century.
A guy who could do a podcast of the phone book and make it interesting.

Never doctrinaire, Carlin is great at unspooling the moral vagaries of history. Many who lambast those in the past for not meeting the moral standards of today would be well served by a repast of Carlin delving into the mindsets of those who came before and their understandable justifications for their questionable actions.

A lot of history and moral qualms I wa
Joe Thomas
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The End Is Always Near - a rather pessimistic, but oddly fitting, title for a book about some of the key moments in human history. I confess never having listened to Dan’s podcast, but the concept here grabbed me straight away - an exploration of some the most catastrophic (or near catastrophic) moments in human history, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Plague, the destruction of the Assyrian Empire to the use of atomic weapons.

The thread - the moments we got near to human destruction -
Michael Gray
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Equal parts fascinating and terrifying! As with his amazing podcast, Dan Carlin has a knack for putting major historical events in the context of the average contemporary, and then bringing it back to today so that one can imagine what it (the Black Death, the fall of Assyria or Rome, the cold war, etc) must have felt like at the time. I found myself staying up reading it as if it was a fiction thriller simply because of how awestruck I was with some of the stories.

Though relatively dark (see t
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was just like the podcast. Thoughtful, filled with primary source anecdotes and provocative. Dan always seems to be able to remind how scary the fact that we have nukes is, although the picture he paints of the allied firebombings of Hamburg and Tokyo are also horrifying.

This book also talks a lot about the pre-Persian ancient world, which is something I don't know much about, and find fascinating. The history of our civilization pales in comparison to what has come before, which I gu
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
If you have listened to Dan Carlin's podcast Hardcore History you know what you are going to get with this book. If you want well sourced,well argued and academic review of the rise and fall of civilizations this is not for you. If however you want a good popular history of the falls of civilization than it works just fine. I enjoyed it but if I was going into thinking this was an academic work it would of got me mad as some of his statements of fact are very much not settled fact. ...more
Glen Krisch
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
The writing/content = 4-stars. Loses a star because of the unnecessary footnotes, which were for the most part just digressions that could've easily been worked into the narrative. These footnotes covered up to half of some pages, and most pages had notes. These were a big drag on my reading momentum. ...more
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
First off, I listen to Dan Carlin's podcast all the time (Hardcore History) so I don't mind that he wanders around various topics -- that's what makes his style unique. He provides so much context and backstory ("Where do you start a story -- at the beginning? How far back do you go?") that you feel completely immersed into whatever story you're learning about.

I also listened to the audiobook narrated by Dan, so it was like an extended podcast. (His background as a radio announcer really shines
Nicole D.
My son is a big fan of Hardcore History podcast, and he introduced me to Dan Carlin and I like him. He talks about history in a way that is really accessible (in fact I wish he'd done the book on the Six Day War I'm reading, because it's Wander City for me and that book...but I digress.)

Carlin takes an interesting position here, and goes through history and essentially tells us all the catastrophic stuff humanity has already survived. War, Famine, plague, dictators ... Hitler. So you can look at
Dylan Jones
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
I've been listening to Dan Carlin for about 6 years or so and I've relistened to almost all his shows multiple times. I read this book in his voice ("Like everybody else...except...more so") and generally liked it but after reading like a bunch of history books the last year this was pretty funny how imprecise and wide ranging it was. It's interesting but definitely more poorly written than most history books written about a specific event or year (ie 1848, 1861, 1491) and so I give this a solid ...more
Ben Rogers
May 27, 2020 rated it liked it
A lot of history, but good. Troublesome!

May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this! It took a while as a lot has been going on ATM, but I persisted and it has paid off. Highly recommended!
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Dan Carlin is an American political commentator, amateur historian, and podcaster. Once a professional radio host, Carlin eventually took his show to the Internet, and he now hosts two popular independent podcasts: Common Sense and Hardcore History. Carlin broke into the television news business in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. He has worked as a television news reporter, an author, a columnist, ...more

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