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Publishers WeeklyIn this cogent history, novelist and medieval historian Newman (The Witch in the Well, The Real History Behind the DaVinci Code) takes a cheerfully skeptical view of end-of-times prophesies beginning with the many flood stories of pre-historical Mesopotamia (including Noah's Ark), and ending with modern apocalyptic visions like the Branch Davidians cult, the contemporary Christian idea of rapture, and the (secular) Y2K scare. In between these bookends, Newman dips into the apocalyptic beliefs of early Christians (such as the vision of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse), Chinese Daoism, the fictional 12th century magician Merlin ( "associated with prophecy" throughout Europe for more than 800 years), and the increasingly infamous Mayan calendar that supposedly "ends" on December 21, 2012, a false prophesy Newman attributes to commentators who don't understand the writing, religion or archaeoastronomy of the ancient civilization: "the Mayans, like the Egyptians, were more concerned with keeping the world going than with when it was going to end." Entertaining and well-footnoted, this guide to the ends of the Earth will inform skeptics but is unlikely to sway believers.
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