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Apocalypse Not: Everything You Know About 2012, Nostradamus and the Rapture Is Wrong Paperback – September 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"With a great deal of humor and a polished writing style, Greer recounts end-time prophecies from our past, many familiar, most obscure."
The Rationalist

"John Michael Greer bookends Apocalypse Not with the supposed Mayan prophecy, how the date was calculated and what, according to an assortment of New Age prophets, it is supposed to mean. He is able to debunk it very easily and very thoroughly. In the complex Mayan calendar there is one reference to the date equivalent to December 21, 2012 and no clear prophecy on what's supposed to happen on that day. But the clincher is that there are many hundreds of Mayan inscriptions referring to other dates—and "a fair number of them...look forward to dates well after 2012.""
—Catholic Herald

"Greer has a gift for taking complex concepts and making them accessible, clearly explaining ten centuries of apocalyptic thinking in 178 pages that despite the serious subject matter are laugh-out-loud funny in spots."
—Third Floor with Water View

"Apocalypse Not is a rich history of the “apocalypse meme,” the idea that some great world-ending event is going to occur, destroying the wicked and saving the elect and the worthy. I’ve written extensively on this myself in various essays and books. It’s an idea that goes back nearly 4000 years and has embedded itself deeply in Western civilization, showing up yet again most recently in the predictions surrounding December 21, 2012. To my mind it’s a pernicious idea, doing more harm than good, but it’s also a seductive notion. In this very readable but extensively researched book, John Michael traces the whole history of this meme and its effect upon the Western mind. As we move through this “apocalyptic” year, I wish this book could be read by everyone and anyone who believes doom will soon be upon us or has to deal with those who feel that way—or who would just like to understand some of the history of ideas that have shaped our culture."
—David Spangler, author of Everyday Miracles

"Archdruid Greer carefully describes the “apocalypse meme” and relates its sad history since its origins in Persian Zoroastrianism 5,000 years ago.A meme is an idea or set of ideas which is transmitted from person to person until it becomes widespread and persists through time. It follows the same natural laws as biological evolution, as might be expected, since the concept was invented by Richard Dawkins, the current high priest of natural selection.In this case, the meme is the story of a conflict between the forces of good and evil, the end of the world as we know it, and the beginning of a better, ideal world of the future. This story is endlessly repeated in tales of Ahura-Mazda, the Norse Ragnarok, End Times prophecies, Armageddon, the books of Daniel and Revelation, the Messiah, the Rapture, atomic war with UFOs rescuing the faithful, the defeat of Sauron, the Age of Aquarius, the communist revolution of 1917, ad infinitum, and, of course, the famous Mayan prophecy at the end of their current calendrical cycle on December 21, 2012. One thing that all of these hundreds of end-of-the-world prophecies have in common is blood (“the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers”), hence the undesirability of what may seem to be a harmless fad. Another thing is that, up until now, they have all failed to come true. One hundred percent. The book is an absorbing and entertaining read."
—FATE Magazine

"Greer’s easy-to-read writing style, the list of resources he includes, and even the structure of the book persuaded me that his perspective on apocalypse is worth considering as an introduction to the topic."
—Psych Central

"This sweeping survey of apocalyptic thought during the last three and a half millennia is written with erudition and sprinkled with humor. John Michael Greer seamlessly weaves the threads of religious/mystical and secular/revolutionary apocalyptism—from the most well-known exemplars to the delightfully obscure. I am confident this notable work will be around long after winter solstice 2012, continuing to serve the reader with its important explication of this critical subject and pointing the way to associated literature for further study"
—James Wasserman, author of The Temple of Solomon: From Ancient Israel to Secret Societies

"Apocalypse Not is a riotous romp through the history of the human imagination. Mr. Greer takes us around the world and across millennia, from sacred to secular, to bring us this tribute to the limitless creativity and tenacious desires of the human heart despite all odds.The book delightfully details our inherent human need to seek a utopian world, available only to the worthy by a trial that makes it worthwhile. He proves it’s not the Armageddon that draws us to embrace the idea of a pending Apocalypse, but the dream of the paradise that lies beyond. Reading this book will make you laugh at human folly and cry at its consequences, along with some of the most colorful figures in history.
—Jeff Hoke, author of The Museum of Lost Wonder

"Apocalypse NOT! It was very important that somebody took on this faux religious madness, this yearning for the death of our planet. Hooray for John Michael Greer for skewering the lot of them on his ascerbic pen! From the artificial counting of the dates of the end of the world, to the last big bout of robbing people of their money, hopes, and religious beliefs, Greer tracks this male madness faithfully. This seems to be a very American obsession, the end of days, profitable to those who spread it, a doom to those who drink their Kool Aid."
- Z Budapest, author of Celestial Wisdom and The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries

"The perfect hangover cure for the day before the day after the day the world didn't end."
—Lon Milo DuQuette, author of The Key to Solomon's Key

"If peddling flesh is the world's oldest profession, John Michael Greer makes a good case that peddling fear's not too far behind. Apocalypse Not lucidly spells out how social upheaval- as well as plain old boredom and frustration- have always inspired fantasies of The Great Reboot, when lions will lay down with lambs, streets will be paved with gold and lowly stockboys will become lofty CEOs. This book explains the how's and why's of such grand fantasies throughout history and how often they seem to come to grief. Armageddon through to you?"
- Christopher Knowles Our Gods Wear Spandex, and The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll

"Look no further than Apocalypse Not for your explanation of 2012 end times, Apocalypse memes, starlore and pseudo-philosophers in man's rich history of end-of-the-world obsessions."
—Nick Belardes, author of Random Obsessions

"Apocalypse Not breaks open the doomsday clock, revealing all its cogs and inner workings. The end isn't near: It's Greer."
—Clint Marsh, author of The Mentalist's Handbook

From the Back Cover

Three Thousand Years of End of Times (That Never Happened)

New Agers count off the days until the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. Evangelical Christians look for the Antichrist and long for the Rapture. Extropians dream of the Singularity, when super-intelligent computers will abolish all human limits to progress. Doomers stockpile freeze-dried food as they wait for civilization to crash and burn. Why are we waiting for Armageddon?

Almost since the beginning of civilization, an insatiable willingness to believe has driven people to dream of the apocalypse that will replace the world they've got with the one they've always wanted. All of these predictions have one thing in common: every one of them has been wrong.

From brilliant seers and religious visionaries to conspiracy theorists and fundamentalists, Apocalypse Not exposes prophecies of doom, including:

•The Biblical prophets whose successful predictions have been ignored for two thousand years
•The failed end time prophesies of Nostradamus, Mother Shipton and other visionaries
•The tangled interconnections between end time beliefs and the UFO phenomenon
•The real origins of the belief in apocalypse in 2012 (hint: it's not actually Mayan at all)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Viva Editions (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936740001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936740000
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in the gritty Navy town of Bremerton, Washington and raised in the south Seattle suburbs, I began writing about as soon as I could hold a pencil. SF editor George Scithers' dictum that all would-be writers have a million words of so of bad prose in them, and have to write it out, pretty much sums up the couple of decades between my first serious attempt to write a book and my first published book, "Paths of Wisdom", which appeared in 1996. These days I live in Cumberland, Maryland with my spouse Sara; serve as presiding officer -- Grand Archdruid is the official title -- of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Druid order founded in 1912; and write in half a dozen nonfiction fields, nearly all of them focused on the revival of forgotten ideas, insights, and traditions of practice from the rubbish heap of history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rita Rippetoe on October 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Easy to read, easy to understand guide to the idea of apocalypse and its effects through history. Greer concentrates on the types of end of the world scenerios that must be taken on faith rather than based on research or statistical studies. From Zarathustra's first assertion that the world would end in a battle between the forces of the good god and his evil opponent to the current preoccupations with Rapture or Mayan prophecies, the idea of an end time has provided a reason to neglect work on real world problems. Why conserve trees if God is going to create a new earth for His followers?

Bibliography and index, as well as clear and concise writing make this valuable for students of ideas.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Toni VG on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone who has ever pondered about, worried about, or prepared for the end times. I suppose this material has been out there before, but I've never read anything like the way a meme is explained and described through out earth's history. After finishing the book, I took a deep breath, and determined to take full responsibility for my life and actions. I realized how the 'end time' meme had taken control of my life for over 40 years. A lot of information that had extreme meaning for me personally in such a small book. I bought copies for all of my family members. Thank you Mr. Greer!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hardy on November 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
The end of the world has been predicted many times, and all of those prophecies have been wrong (so far.)

In this book, John Michael Greer provides some solid scholarship detailing the prominent apocalyptic predictions of many religions and some secular movements. The book's not exhaustive -- it's too slender a volume for that -- but it does hit all of the major apocalyptic traditions and it's written with Greer's characteristic conversational style and dry wit. It's a fast read, but not a superficial one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hermes on December 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I learned of this book listening to Coast 2 Coast, which I often listen to for comedic relief and relaxation.

This book is an informative, well-written and entertaining read. I read "Apocalypse Not" in two days and enjoyed it immensely. I strongly recommend this book, especially if you have friends and/or family hung up on the latest apocalyptic meme that has many wringing their hands in sweet anticipation -- the 2012 doomsday scenario.

I consider "Apocalypse Not" an excellent addition to other works that I have dealing with humans' love for the apocalyptic meme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stone Bryson on August 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must admit, I went into this book with a dose of trepidation. I have been a casual researcher of apocalyptic prophecies for years now, research which I enjoyed greatly. I did not really want anyone throwing water on the happy little fire I was building, but since I respect Mr Greer as a writer I decided to give it a go.

You'll notice I used the past tense when I said 'enjoyed' directly above. Yeah... so much for my research.

This book will make you re-think every notion you have learned about a 'coming' apocalypse. It may not dampen all your ideas, but if you are an active-minded person it will certainly cause you to at least step back for a moment, to pause and reflect. Well written, well researched, and full of timely examples, this book should be required reading before watching any of the innumerable History Channel shows about doomsday. It firmly places the idea of 'end-times' into its proper place - fun for fiction, not for reality.

Even if apocalypse is not your cup of tea you can still find much value here. As a last resort you'll have the facts you need to reassure your more paranoid relatives that all is good - for 2012 and beyond.

Unless the Zombies arise, of course... but that's another story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael_in_SC on June 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I prefer my books on religion to be written by recognized scholars, written at a level that a layman can understand. Greer is not an academic scholar and it shows. But it is a useful introduction to the fact that the Jews apparently learned apocalypticism from their sojourn in Babylon, and this colored subsequent texts like Daniel, the New Testament as a whole, and other non-canonical works. It introduces the reader to the key issues; but the reader should then seek out works by academic scholars for more depth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on February 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
John Michael Greer's "Apocalypse Not" gives the reader a historical overview and critique of apocalyptic thinking. The author is the current head of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), but his own religious views are visible mostly by implication. Often, his criticism of apocalyptic thinking sounds like a version of secular conservatism.

"Apocalypse Not" was published in 2011, so it's hardly surprising that the brouhaha surrounding 2012 is prominently featured. Indeed, the main point of the book is probably to debunk the 2012 phenomenon, with the historical material (interesting in itself) as a gigantic backdrop. I must say that the origins of the 2012 "Mayan" date came as a surprise even to me. They are even sillier than I expected! While it's true that one Mayan calendric cycle does end on December 21, 2012, many others end on other dates, such as October 23, 4772, or even a million years into the future. It turns out that the 2012 date is known from one inscription only, found at a minor Mayan site in Mexico. The inscription is partly illegible, and essentially says that a minor Mayan deity (Bolon Yokte Ku) will descend. Nobody knows from where or to what - the text is damaged at this point. That's it! That's what the entire apocalypse fervour around 2012 was ultimately based on! Well, almost. The *real* source turns out to be modern: during the 1970's, one Terence McKenna had visions of the impending end of the world during a trip on ayahuasca and hallucinogenic mushrooms, and he somehow connected this to the Mayan cycle which ends on the now notorious date. During the 1980's, New Age writer José Argüellés popularized the date in a book and at an event known as the Harmonic Convergence. This set the snowball in motion, and the rest is history...
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