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

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  9,593 ratings  ·  1,042 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 3.93  · 
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 ·  9,593 ratings  ·  1,042 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.

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
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
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Bryan Glosemeyer
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you’re a long time listener of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, as you read The End Is Always Near, you’re likely to hear his voice in your head hitting every emphasis, cadence, and downbeat. Which is to say, the book is pretty much like reading his podcast. Which is good--quite good. But it also means you’ve probably already heard most of everything that you’ll read. Not that his podcast is a substitution for this book, or book a substitute for podcast, though they share a family resem ...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
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
Listened on audiobook. It felt like an extended episode of Hardcore History cobbled together from scraps that didn’t merit their own episodes. The book wasn’t terrible, but it felt like Carlin just rambling his thoughts about a few historical periods.
Brendan Monroe
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Nelly J
Aug 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book that goes through some of the apocalyptic moments from the past and how it affected humanity to the point we are at now.
I found it very engrossing and learned more details of some historical events that I wasn't aware of.
Jul 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
Do great podcasters necessarily make good authors?
I, like many who will read or have read this book will know Dan Carlin from the fabulous ‘Hardcore History’ and ‘Common Sense’ podcasts. Turning some of Dan’s musings about the moral dilemmas associated with our ability to annihilate large numbers of our fellow human beings into a book probably seemed like a good idea. It still could be if Dan had been a bit more focussed on the topic at hand.
As it says on the cover, the theme of the book is ‘Ap
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
Aug 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is just as good as Carlin's endlessly fascinating podcast, Hardcore History. Somehow, he has absolutely mastered the art of teaching his audience in-depth information with complicated politics and lots of moving pieces, while providing a gripping overall narrative of our ancestors with all the human drama you can stand. He illustrates the events and people with primary sources of deadly situations that leave nothing to the imagination, but are not for mere gross shock value. Covering a ...more
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
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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
I rated this book only 3 stars not because of the content, or the writing of the audiobook. What made me rate it so low is the fact that it actually brings nothing new. All the content is available in Dan's podcasts, albeit some of his less popular ones. Over all I have mixed feelings about it. Sure, the knowledge in these lesser podcasts is good quality but, does it justify buying a book? On the other hand Dan is one of the more passionate people so.... Why not? Had I not have already listened ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Apparently it's a miracle we still exist. ...more
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!
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The parts about a pandemic being unthinkable to contemporary readers is charmingly, tragically dated now, but otherwise an enjoyable work. Recommend the audiobook for fans of his podcast.
Infinite Jen
Apr 11, 2022 rated it 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 live through? This book may just blast you in the chest with the force of a frozen turkey fired from a howitzer. Have you ev ...more
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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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