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2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse Hardcover – January 16, 2011


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2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse + The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 + The Maya (Eighth Edition)  (Ancient Peoples and Places)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Edition edition (January 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442206098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442206090
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Well, here�s a much-needed breath of fresh, rational air. A welcome counterpoint to the seemingly endless end-of-the-world tomes, this well-documented, well-presented book (written by a pair of history professors) explores the origins of the alleged Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012. For conspiracy buffs, the authors� conclusions will prove decidedly disheartening. For example: they show that there is no hard evidence that the Mayan calendar has any predictive function; the Long Count calendar (which is key to the 2012 date) has a purely arbitrary start date, rendering the 2012 date meaningless; and (despite common misperception) the Mayans were not especially apocalyptic in outlook. The authors have a simple mission, �to explain what the 2012 fuss is all about,� and they do it admirably. They don�t go as far as saying the world won�t end in December 2012, but they do say this: there is no evidence, either historical or textual, that the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012 or any other year. --David Pitt

Review

Media are full of doomsday predictions related to the Maya Long Count calendar end date, December 21, 2012, in today’s Western calendar. Restall and Solari take a serious look at Maya calendar development, archaeology, and history to seek the truth behind the so-called Maya doomsday prophecy, which adherents believe may forecast the end of the world. The authors see no evidence that Long Count calendar dates for the future, carved on stone monuments at Maya archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America, indicate predictions of doom. Their thorough examination of Maya carvings, images, and writings leads them to the conclusion that the preconquest Maya were not particularly millenarian. By contrast, their Spanish conquerors came from a culture steeped in eschatological thinking. The authors effectively provide scholarly evidence to back up their hypothesis that millenarianism probably came via the Spanish and is not intrinsic to the traditional Maya worldview and to debunk prophecies of doom. VERDICT This readable analysis based on credible scholarship is a needed and balanced counterpoint to the many sensationalist works on the Maya doomsday prophecy as 2012 approaches. Highly recommended for all seeking a reasoned perspective on Maya calendar systems. (Library Journal, Starred Review)

Well, here’s a much-needed breath of fresh, rational air. A welcome counterpoint to the seemingly endless end-of-the-world tomes, this well-documented, well-presented book (written by a pair of history professors) explores the origins of the alleged Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012. For conspiracy buffs, the authors’ conclusions will prove decidedly disheartening. For example: they show that there is no hard evidence that the Mayan calendar has any predictive function; the Long Count calendar (which is key to the 2012 date) has a purely arbitrary start date, rendering the 2012 date meaningless; and (despite common misperception) the Mayans were not especially apocalyptic in outlook. The authors have a simple mission, 'to explain what the 2012 fuss is all about,' and they do it admirably. They don’t go as far as saying the world won’t end in December 2012, but they do say this: there is no evidence, either historical or textual, that the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012 or any other year. (Booklist)

Restall and Solari's informative and accessible book offers understanding of who the Maya were and how they saw their world and, at the same time, offers an explanation into why apocalyptic scenes have always been so attractive. . . . The authors affirm that 2012 is not the end and that many positive things can come from the 2012 phenomenon, including the interest being paid to Mayan culture and to other past civilizations. (Spirituality and Health)

In their highly readable volume, Mayan scholars Restall and Solari cover . . . evidence about ancient Maya belief in a distant apocalypse, but acknowledge that strains of European apocalypticism entered Maya thinking after the conquest. The authors show through discussion of missionary art and Maya colonial writings the likely influences of European thought about the end of the world on the changing Maya conceptions of themselves and their world. They agree, however, that such hybrid strains of the apocalypse in the New World have nothing to do with the current hype about 2012. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

Historians and Maya specialists Matthew Restall and Amara Solari have written the best book available about the notion that the ancient Maya count of days pointed to a world- transforming cataclysm to occur on the 21st of December in the year 2012. Specialists and general readers alike will find this an invaluable overview of the subject. . . . This is an excellently written, well-argued presentation that many should read—while there is still time. (Hispanic American Historical Review)

In an age of fear and trepidation about 2012 and time's end, educators who know the Maya need to step up and teach the truth beyond their academic audience. This well-argued, exceptionally accessible book combines the interdisciplinary forces of one who knows the Maya word with one who knows the Maya image. It takes readers to the historical roots of the 2012 myth and reveals how and why the idea of Maya millenarianism became linked to the celebrated Long Count. (Anthony Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor, Colgate University)

Falsehoods are more powerful than facts. Matthew Restall and Amara Solari's ingenious reconstruction of an amazing story—how Maya mathematics morphed into modern millenarianism—tells us a lot about the Maya. Their book tells us even more about ourselves: how and why, with every emotion from solemnity to derision, we respond to prophets who claim to foresee the end of time. Witty, scholarly, insightful, and fast-paced—this is the thinking person's guide to the next pop-apocalypse. (Felipe Fernández-Armesto, University of Notre Dame)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The book is concise and to the point.
M.Z. Christensen
Overall, an excellent book and I would certainly recommend it for any student interested in the subject or for any dilettante historian.
T.H.G.
And with insight and humor it charts the rise of 2012 mania among Western observers of the Maya.
Paul R. Sullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jason Golomb VINE VOICE on July 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"2012 and the End of the World" is a concise and detailed look into all things 2012, focusing on the history of the New World's apocalyptic fascination and how it connects to this key date in Maya history.

Matthew Restall and Amara Solari are professors at Penn State. The two were preparing a class to be taught IN 2012, focused ON 2012 and the result of those preparations is this book. Spanning only about 100 pages, the chapters are well-organized and well-structured for easy classroom note taking ("first we will be discussing these four points...point 1, etc."). This very readable book is more academic than narrative, but does an incredible job of incorporating a lot of info in only a few pages. It's not written for the academic community, but rather it's targeted at readers interested in understanding what's behind the 2012 mythos.

They refer to 2012ology...the study of all things related to the Maya "Prophecy" and the "end date" of their Long Count calendar: December, 21, 2012. As they state early in the book, the purpose of their class, and this book "is to use 2012ology as a vehicle for combining the sources and methods of art history to explain the medieval, modern, and Maya contributions to the 2012 phenomenon..." The book contains numerous drawings, photos and images that enhance their own descriptive analyses.

What started all of this bizarrely intense focus on 12/21/12? It was the fragments of a monument accidentally uncovered by construction workers at a small archaeological site known as El Tortuguero. On what is known as Stella 6 is a reference to 13.0.0.0.0, a date used in the Maya's long range time-tracking calendar, and a strange and brief mythological tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kris Lane on August 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's been at least half a bundle of years since we had such a fine debunking of a cherished scholarly-cum-popular myth about the Maya (the 'rediscovery' of human sacrifice and vengeance cycles after the decades-long astro-peace tyranny of J. Eric Thompson comes to mind). Restall and Solari know both sides of this weird, hybrid story and explain both with verve and wit. Despite their highfalutin credentials, this is not the expected cranky, pedantic, scholarly myth-busting but rather a Brazilian jiujitsu take-down - so subtle you almost don't see it coming. The curse is lifted! (Or is it?)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M.Z. Christensen on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Most books on 2012 fall into two categories. The first houses the many non-scholarly works that have appeared over the past few years to provide both accurate and inaccurate interpretations of the Maya and 2012. Although their conclusions are dubious at times, the writing is accessible to the average reader. The second category contains scholarly works and their examination of 2012. Although their conclusions have a stronger foundation in historical and archaeological research, the writing can be a bit dry and arcane. Matthew Restall and Amara Solari's book create a third category for books on 2012 that are both scholarly and accessible. The book is concise and to the point. The authors root their arguments in historical evidence, yet present the information in a way that the average reader will appreciate. Furthermore, the book takes the study of 2012 a step further to explore why we believe in doomsday prophecies. As a result, the reader will walk away from the book educated, entertained, and enlightened.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By El Zotto on August 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is full of very interesting research. It doesn't set out to punch the myth out of your mind but rather give you the tools to come up with your own conclusions. It is wonderful tool to use to hold your own when a conversation starts about the Apocalypse. It is amusing to shoot down the rabid Apoca-loco's that are selling all their stuff.
Well worth it.
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Format: Hardcover
A pretty good book. The thrust: the Maya did not predict anything special would happen in 2012, much less an apocalypse. Any apocalyptic matter in Maya religion, so the authors say, is a product of a syncretic spillover from the Catholic-Indian encounter, later puffed up by New Agers. Restall and Solari make some good points, but they make some missteps too.

For instance, like many Latin Americanists, they have a thorn in their side when it comes to Christianity, especially the Catholic Church (Christianity=evil; Indians=wonderful untouched, i.e. un-Western, civs). Thus they make some mistakes when it comes to analyzing and discussing Christianity. For instance, on p. 54 they call the birth of Christ an Immaculate Conception. No. Christ was a product of the Virgin Birth, Mary was the product of the Immaculate Conception. On p. 78, Vespucci's narrative, in which he encounters stormy seas and then finds the New World is not a tale of "apocalypse and redemption," it is Providence. (Do the authors really not know what apocalypse and redemption are?) On p. 79, the authors say that a parable in Luke 14 ("Parable of the Great Banquet") is about charity and not about souls and the last judgement. This stems from the liberal Christian view (the "Hippie Jesus" view I call it) that Jesus only taught a brand of proto-communism. No, it is outwardly about charity, but the greater implication is that it is about the Last Judgement. Restall and Solari claim Jesus was only talking about charity and the Franciscans turned it into a millennial prophecy. No, Jesus meant it that way. ("He who has ears, let him hear!")

On the Latin American history stage, the authors attempt to rehabilitate the last Aztec emperor Montezuma (pp. 86ff.).
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