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Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels In End-Time America Paperback – January 4, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Main Street Books; Reprint edition (January 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385498527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385498524
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since 1987, New York Times Magazine editor Alex Heard has scouted out Americans with out-there beliefs: people who breed red heifers to hasten Christ's Second Coming and pen books like The Dead Are Alive and If We Can Keep a Severed Head Alive; astral-plane sky pilots; homicidal survivalists. The best piece is "Welcome, Space Brothers!" about UFO fans whose leader, Ruth Norman, "combined the couture sensibilities of a drag queen with the joie de vivre of a Frisbee-chasing Irish setter." He conveys what it must be like to be one who sat rapt as Ruth spoke, "sounding like a combination of Julia Child, Aunt Clara on Bewitched, and a bossy little girl telling other little girls the rules of her playhouse."

Heard gets inside their closed systems to poke fun from within, and often puts things in historical context. You'll understand mainstream apocalyptic literature like the bestselling Left Behind thrillers far better once Heard briefs you on the whole range of stranger biblical end-times interpreters. Like David Gelernter's 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, Apocalypse Pretty Soon has a poignant sense of what commonsense culture has lost in giving up its millennial dreams.

Heard is valuable because he's thorough and genuinely interested in why Arthur Blessitt finds it blessed to drag a 105-pound cross across the globe, surviving attacks by mamba snake, crocodile, Nicaraguan firing squad, and LAPD choke hold. His book is madly funny, and deeply sad. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Heard, an editor for the New York Times Magazine, has been traveling across the United States for the last ten years, seeking out people who believe the end of time is near. Here he reports on his odyssey, bringing into focus a varied assortment of millennialists, doom-and-gloom New Agers, UFO enthusiasts, "life forever"- ists, and militant right-wing survivalists. No major theme unites the book, except that there are a lot of folks with some very weird beliefs. A cynic could portray these people as pathetic, disillusioned losers or crazies on the fringes of America, but Heard sees them as humans who believe deeply in alternatives, whether salvation by UFOs or rebirth via a bloody war. Some are harmless and happy; others have the potential to do great damage. This is a reporter's first-person account, and it's funny, opinionated, boldly subjective, fascinating, and entertaining.?Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

His book captures the spirit of the weirdness which pervades modern America.
John M. Gurley
Alternatively very funny and very sad, it's well worth reading in order to better understand the fringes of the great social experiment in this country.
T. Hooper
I loved this book so much that I hated for it to end, but I will revisit it more than once, and I am already recommending it heartily to all my friends.
"tuckstein"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ED Detetcheverrie on November 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
What's more frightening than the idea of an apocalypse? How 'bout all the people out there with so many freaky ideas of how and when it will come... From a psychological standpoint, this book is absolutely fascinating, darkly humorous, and yet undeniably frightening in its portrayal of people who might be neighbors or cousins of yours and mine who await an alien takeover or the return of Christ or what have you and the extent to which these hopes or fears have affected their lives and the lives of those they know and love. Obviously, the author has focused on one particular quirk of the various lives his subjects lead, and yet what is magnified for the reader are some of the most thought-provoking and bizarre ideas and behaviors I have ever encountered in print outside of an issue of Psychology Today. A book that can be aborbed and pondered by anyone with common sense and the ability to seperate reality from fantasy, I would avoid letting this fall into the hands of impressionable or highly imaginative young readers who might become fixated on some particular section and grow fearful because of it. Disturbing in both an entertaining and harrowing way, I couldn't put it down and hope for some sort of a sequel. Amazing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "ringfish" on July 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
An entertaining, funny and often sad look at some of the various personalities that make up the cultish world of millenial apocalyptic groups. The common thread here is the belief in imminent apocalyptic change by the groups through different means (alien visitation, return of Jesus, cataclysmic Earth changes, etc.).
Heard, it seems, tries to be objective and open-minded about each group at first. But when faced with the absurdity of their belief systems and after getting to know the people that form the leadership of these groups, he can't help but present a slightly more skeptical opinion. By the end of each chapter, after Heard has presented his study of the group, it's leadership, tactics, and beliefs, it's hard to not think these people are out of their minds.
The book is also a fine study in the unusual aspects of the human psyche. From the egomaniacal and seemingly deranged leaders to their willing and needy followers, Heard gives us a hard look at some of the personalities that make up these fringe groups.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Kellogg on May 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Alex Heard's adventures in the borderlands of culture remind me of the joys of listening to radical idealists of any stripe. I could feel the presence of each of his subjects, whether dreamer of a new Atlantis or channeler of benevolent, alien intelligence, or cross-bearing transcontinental walker. Each individual is a revelation in the spectrum of humanity, and most of them are endearing in distinct and peculiar ways. Heard is not unkind to either his subjects or his readers. He is a translator between "here" and "there," whose writing is so fluid and flawless that these strange world views slide into one another leaving the reader wondering how preferrable his own reality is in comparison. Read this book and be, by turns, amazed, entertained, touched, and more eager to engage the world and try out other lenses on reality.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David M. Chess on December 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In good workmanlike prose, and showing a great deal of sympathy for his subjects, Heard tells us the stories of a number of people who believe odd things. Roughly eight different kinds of odd things, only very loosely held together by the theme of "Apocalypse".
"Apocalypse" is an ambiguous word, and the selection of odd beliefs in "Apocalypse Pretty Soon" plays on that ambiguity. There's no obvious tie between the folks who believe that Aliens will soon descend to Earth and give us enlightenment and cool technology, the supplement-megadose folks who believe that with the right pills they can live a real long time, and the Out of Body Experience folks who believe in astral travel. Heard gives us a few insights into (or guesses about) their characters that suggest some reasons people might believe these odd things, but he draws no general lessons and comes to no general conclusion.
It's an easy and enjoyable read, about some interesting people. It doesn't go beyond the anecdotes, and for that reason left me somewhat unsatisfied, but it's by no means a bad book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heard takes us on an enjoyable tour through the underbelly of the slightly strange, definitely fringe and just plain wacko groups that exist in the USA. Each chapter covers a small number of religious, futurist, political and other groups which defy categorization, along with some relevant history. This isn't a mainstream treatment of the topic - the author does his best to get inside each group and provide some real background. I enjoyed his tolerant yet skeptical attitude, which lets the reader attempt to understand each group from within, rather than an automatic dismissal of their worldview.
The book stands as a testament to those outside the mainstream. Alternatively very funny and very sad, it's well worth reading in order to better understand the fringes of the great social experiment in this country.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "tuckstein" on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If this book doesn't land on the best-seller list there's no justice! My husband and I have been in a tug of war over it for the past several days (ever since I, having first discovered it, made the mistake of reading a few especially hilarious passages aloud to him). Heard's writing style is marvelous, and he relates his encounters with the book's incredible real-life cast of characters in such a way that the reader has the feeling of being right there, along for the (usually hilarious) ride. I was impressed with the author's fairness, wit, perseverance and writing ability. I loved this book so much that I hated for it to end, but I will revisit it more than once, and I am already recommending it heartily to all my friends. If I could afford to, I'd buy them all a copy!
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