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Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World Paperback – October 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061152242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061152245
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,741,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Guyatt, with a twinkle in his pen, an open mind and a determination to give Rapture believers a fair hearing, has produced a provocative book" Daily Mail "Arresting and entertaining" Sunday Telegraph "Funny and frightening investigation" Scotland on Sunday "A wonderfully readable survey" The Tablet "Wise and funny" Catholic Herald --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

About the Author

Nicholas Guyatt was educated at Cambridge and Princeton, and he teaches history at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He is a contributor to the London Review of Books and The Nation magazine, and he is the author of three previous books. Born and raised in England, he now lives in Vancouver.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Phil Zuckerman on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
First, the good:

This book was very well-written. It makes for good, easy reading. It is engaging and interesting. Reads like a good article in Harper's Magazine. Guyatt also does a nice job laying out all the disturbing and inane beliefs of these people. He also exposes what a giant cash cow the end-times industry is -- how much money these hucksters make writing and speaking about the apocalypse. He also profiles key players in ths apocalypse industry, such as John Hagee, Hal Lindsay (by the way, I went to high school with his daughter and she did more blow and had more sex than Paris Hilton), Jack Kinsella, Joel Rosenberg, etc. The "climax" of the book is his short interview with Tim Layahe. Excerpts from this interview are quite, well, disturbing: LaHaye rags on Jews, he calls other prophecy peddlers' beliefs "nuts" (!), predicts that the Rapture will happen right now (oops), spews homophobia, etc. In short, Guyatt does an admirable job taking us from one leading Christian fascist to another, offering engaging portraits of these modern Elmer Gantrys. The chapter on the history of prophecy/apocalyptic thinking is also excellent.

Now, the not so good: The sub-title of this book is "Why Millions of Americans are looking Forward to the End of the World." This is a very provocative question -- and it is the sole reason that I bought the book. I knew all about End Times bullsh*t -- I've read works by Lindsay, LaHaye, etc. What I want to know is WHY average Americans believe this stuff, and I was very excited to read Guyatt's thoughts and theories on this question. Sadly, he never gets to that. Not at all. Nowhere does he attempt to offer an account of WHY millions of Americans eat this crap up. His failure to do so was a major disappointment for me.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Many of my neighbors, since I live here in the Bible Belt, are convinced that soon, within the next few years and certainly within their lifetimes, they will vanish from the Earth. They won't die, but they will disappear into the skies because they have a particular relationship with Jesus that will allow this to happen, and those of us who do not have such a relationship will be left behind to fend for ourselves. For me, and certainly for most of the world, this is just not the sort of thing that happens, but such beliefs are not uncommon here. In fact, 60% of Americans believe that prophecies including The Rapture are going to come true, and 20% think it will happen in their lifetimes, according to statistics provided in _Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World_ (Harper Perennial) by Nicholas Guyatt. Guyatt is a historian educated in Cambridge, England, and his previous books have to do with American history rather than the current events described in this one. He now lives and teaches in Vancouver, and although he brings an outsider's inspection to this particular manifestation of Born-Again America, and although he manages a humorous tour of apocalyptic history and current events, he is never patronizing with his subject or with the many as-yet-to-be-Raptured experts he has interviewed. That does not keep him from being amused, or conveying his amusement in this entertaining and breezy book, but he has made serious enquiries and takes the answers he has found seriously; given that so many Americans take these prophecies seriously, it is clear that even those of us unswayed by prophecy ought to take the phenomenon of such beliefs seriously, especially as it affects current politics and culture.Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael Heath VINE VOICE on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Since the time the New Testament canons were written, some of the authors and/or editors of these texts were convinced the world was coming to an end in their generation. The fact that 1900+ years have gone by and we're still here does not appear to weaken the opportunity for con men and true believers seasoned with a dash of capitalistic fervor to make a lot of money and gain an enormous amount of power shilling the end of world. Guyatt travels to the sources of this hucksterism showing how these religious leaders convince a particular group of people into believing the natural laws of the universe will be suddenly disrupted by a very angry God as described by the unknown author of an ancient text that Thomas Jefferson believed was written by an insane person.

Nicholas Guyatt opens us up to the world of the evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity at its craziest in an approach perfect for the topic, he minimizes his own perspective and focuses on providing them with a forum to answer questions a sane, educated person divorced from the cult of rapture believers would ask. Guyatt's non-threatening approach to his interview subjects has most of them opening up so that we get an unvarnished look into their world, even learning how much the leaders and their adherents look forward to the world suffering through a tribulation in order that they can be proved right in their beliefs, which provides justification for this sub-title, "Why Millions of Americans are Looking Forward to the End of the World".
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