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Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization's End Paperback – January 15, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In New Age circles, the idea that some sort of world-spanning cataclysmic event will take place in December 2012 has been gaining traction for years, thanks largely to the calculations of ancient Mayan astronomers who pegged that moment as the end of a cycle of eons. Joseph uses that prophecy as a starting point, but claims that his interest lies in more substantial scientific threats to the planet—including cracks in Earth's magnetic field, the eruption of supervolcanoes and flareups of sunspot radiation. On the other hand, he also gives credence to planetary alignments and The Bible Code before veering into a rant about how the real problem is Christian fundamentalists who want to manipulate the Middle East into Armageddon. When he sticks to science journalism, Joseph is a lively tour guide, introducing readers to Mayan shamans and Russian scientists with equal aplomb. But when he encourages readers to start praying they survive the coming apocalypse, he comes off as exactly the sort of crackpot he claims to eschew. Still, there's less kookery than in other 2012 books, making Joseph a reasonably straightforward guide to the theory. (Jan. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Fascinating . . . incredible research and an equally incredible sense of humor.”—Tim LaHaye

“Joseph is a lively tour guide, introducing readers to Mayan shamans and Russian scientists with equal aplomb.”— Publishers Weekly

Apocalypse 2012 manages to be both lighthearted in tone and more than a little disturbing in content.” – Maclean’s

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (January 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767924487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767924481
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Date and place of birth

February 7, 1954 Danbury, Connecticut. But I was raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with which I most closely identify.

Current Residence

Beverly Hills, California, USA

Current position/Key Projects
Lawrence E. Joseph was formerly the chairman of an advanced plasma physics research and development company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Key projects included the development of the the Vulcan Plasma Disintegrator, an ultra-high temperature (10,000 to 15,000 degrees K) furnace designed to completely dissociate highly toxic biological and chemical wastes, leaving no toxic residue.

Previous Works

Strawberry Fields Forever: John Lennon Remembered (Bantam Books, 1980) (co-writer). Written, typeset, printed and distributed twelve days after John Lennon's assassination, this Bantam "instant book" became a NY Times bestseller and was sold globally.

American Lifestyles for the 1980's (Packaged Facts, Inc., New York, NY 1981) This marketing study examined American social and cultural trends and projected their impact on the consumption of consumer goods throughout the 1980's.

Amerika, (Simon & Schuster, 1987) (co-writer). This novelization of the 14-hour ABC miniseries, on which I also served as creative editor, became a NY Times bestseller and was sold internationally.

Gaia: The Growth of an Idea (St. Martin's Press, hardcover, 1990, softcover, 1991) The book also came out in the United Kingdom (Penguin Arkana, 1991), Italy (Geo), Spain/Latin America (Cuatro Vientos) and Japan. More than any other project, this book, arising from my November, 1986 article on Gaia in The New York Times Magazine, has defined my career. Over the past twenty years, I have since written and lectured on the Gaia movement at UNCED, the 1992 United Nations "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, at two American Geophysical Union Chapman conferences on the Gaia Hypothesis (San Diego, 1988; Valencia, Spain, 2000) on Surtsey, the youngest island in the world, an ecological preserve at the southwestern tip of the Icelandic archipelago, New York City, Prague, Beirut and many other locations.

Common Sense: Why It's No Longer Common (Addison-Wesley, 1994) This book enabled me to pursue a brief career as a common sense consultant, with such clients as the United Nations Development Programme (assignment in Bogota, Colombia), and the American Society for Industrial Security.


Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY 1967-1970
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island B.A. 1970-1974
University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, 1975-1977, graduate studies, teaching assistant, in literature

Previous Positions

Editor, Charleston Poetic Review, Charleston, South Carolina, 1978
Chief Marketing Writer, Packaged Facts, Inc, New York, NY 1980-1990
Chairman of the Board, Aerospace Consulting Corporation (AC2), Albuquerque, New Mexico, April, 2005 to present. (I first joined the company in 1995, and have been a member of the board since 2003).

Professional, Academic, or Fraternal Organization Membership

Writer's Guild of America, 1986-present PEN American Center, 1990-present

Honors, Awards, and Prizes

1987, 1988: Summer residencies at Fondation Karolyi, an artistic foundation in Vence, France.
1992: Major grant from Gaiaship Foundation, Oslo, Norway

Magazines, Newspapers and Professional Journals

The New York Times (Sunday magazine, Op-Ed, Travel)
Family Circle
Art News

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
On one level the book works for me. Volcanism, variability of the earth's magnetic fields, extreme variability in solar activity, and the potential catastrophic effect of extraterrestrial objects are indeed threats to what, with our limited time view, we consider to be an optimum and stable world. The writer also refers to science which shows that extreme variability in these areas is the rule, not the exception. The earth has ranged from a frigid snowball to a completely ice free planet. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been orders of magnitude above current levels and oxygen has ranged down to near zero. The magnetic poles have swapped ends frequently, if not regularly. There is evidence that suggests the earth has collided with large objects from space. We do not fully understand, and are not able to predict with accuracy, what is going to happen in these areas. Therefore, we can not rule out such catastrophes during our lifetimes.

However, the theme of this book is that the Mayan calendar ending 2012 portends the end of civilization at that date. The author rather glibly moves from the descriptions of variability of these natural phenomena to the conclusion that his scientific investigations support the end of civilization at this date. It is quite a leap from saying we may be hit by a meteor at any time, to saying science tells me its 2012.


Since the author builds his case on unrelated facts in several fields, his scientific case rests entirely on the validity and total weight of those independent, incremental threats. I have therefor largely skipped over what I think are inaccurate or irrelevant observations and just focused on a few examples where it is easy to exhibit errors.
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Format: Hardcover
Never have I been so aware of an author's shortcomings - both in terms of knowledge and writing - while reading a book. With Apocalypse 2012, Joseph has pieced together one of the odder literary offerings I've ever come across.

For starters, the book jumps frenetically from one topic to another with nary a transition to be found. The first 20 pages are so disorienting that you wonder whether a Ritalin prescription isn't in order for Mr. Joseph. Our friendly author also can't help throwing in personal experiences that - while presumably cathartic for him - have nothing to do with the book. So we hear about his divorce, his parents' divorce and his dad's subsequent death, his own financial and writing woes from time to time for no apparent reason.

Then there's the topic... that the world will endure some massive transitional (and death-filled) moment on 12/21/2012. This is accoring to Mayan astrological study. Joseph doesn't seem to know whether to mock the hypothesis or take it seriously for most of the book, which incidentally comes off as a faux-science scary bedtime story. After discussing global warming, human threats, the transit of our solar system through a rough galactic patch, super-volcanoes, terrorism and religion, Joseph seems to decide that something big is indeed in the works and that our best bet to prepare is to: 1. Pray; 2. Smash Volkswagon Phaetons (I'm serious); 3. Build underground cities with the money we'd otherwise spend experimenting with nuclear fusion.

So why even three stars? Because the book does manage to capture your imagination in plenty of places and gets you thinking some big existential thoughts and that's an acomplishment in its own right.

A goofy, disjointed ride that might just be worth your time if you like scary bedtime stories.
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Format: Hardcover
I stopped reading Apocalypse 2012 last night even though I'd almost finished. The book stretches suspension of disbelief on the concept of prophecy alone but when the author started citing the Bible Code as irrefutable he lost me completely as a reader. The Bible Code has been so thoroughly discredited by scores of mathematicians that its not even worth discussing the Codes' validity. (Wikipedia Bible Code, Google Bible Code and add refutation to the search.) The debunking pages even give the Bible Code perpetrators space for their papers and refutations but nothing stands up under peer review. I have to discourage you from reading it unless you just want to and/or for entertainment purposes.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book an enjoyable, humorous and informative read. Mayan cosmology has always been a source of interest to me, chiefly because the Mayans were able to plot planetary and solar cycles with extraordinary accuracy - at least equal to the efforts of our astronomers with their telescopes today. According to the Mayans, 2012 marks the end of this particular civilization - make of that what you will.

But this book is not only about the Mayans - it's about the possible ramifications of observed earth changes, global warming, solar changes and meteors - all scientifically validated as far as I know from my own research.

On top of this, there's fascinating information on Jewish, Christian and Islamic doctrine. The Messiah from everyone's point of view - politics, mythology, and a very interesting chapter on the I Ching, or Book of Changes, revealing a time code hidden within the hexagrams. Also covered is Drosnin's "The Bible Code".

I'm a little perplexed as to why this book has attracted (some) such negative reviews. There was certainly no religious fundamentalism, fanaticism - or even fatalism within its pages as far as I could decipher. Just an extremely well researched gathering of facts, history and probabilities.

Even if you're not at all interested in the Apocalyse - you will learn much from this book. And there will be quite a few chuckles along the way. Highly recommended!
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