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The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Thinking Tells Us About America Paperback – March 6, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1ST edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616145730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616145736
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Last Myth is an important and moving analysis of the apocalyptic impulse that impels this culture toward its destructive ends, and an even more important and moving exploration of what we can and must do about it."--Derrick Jensen, author of Endgame

"If you want to know what's really happening in the reality-gap between our culture and our politics, and how we can refocus our efforts on real problems rather than just fears, The Last Myth lays it out in brilliant detail. A must-read book!" --Thom Hartmann, Bestselling author and international radio and TV show host


"The ability to distinguish between genuine perils-like climate change-and less fearsome ones is as key a skill as there can be at this tough moment, and this book has some truly interesting thoughts about how to do it."--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

About the Author

Mathew Barrett Gross is considered one of America's top new-media strategists. Mel Giles is a successful web author whose work has reached more than two million readers and has been reprinted on MichaelMoore.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Overall I liked the book and think it is worth reading for the thinking reader.
Book Fanatic
A thoroughly researched book that looks at the demise of past civilisations and societies in order to shed light upon the very modern ideas around apocalyptic thought.
Gingerbicky
You'd have to be living under a rock to not see the changes taking place, and yet this is the very argument put forward.
Z. Shaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Z. Shaw on March 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Last Myth enriches and expands our understanding of the times we live in. It goes far beyond what we might expect of a book about the end of times. Through a fascinating historical narrative buoyed by strong empirical evidence, this exemplary work of nonfiction sets forth a case for transforming America's hegemonic and flawed concept of 'infinite progress' as we hurtle toward an unsustainable and collectively ugly resource-depleted future. In doing so, it becomes the panacea for the mindless mindfulness of the New Age. It makes sense of the teeming Rapture-ready herds champing at the armageddon bit. It defines, deconstructs and disposes of our modern secular culture of apocalyptic obsession. In short: it blows asteroids out of the sky.

In the end, The Last Myth may change the way you think about your place in the grand scheme of things. But perhaps more importantly, it will steel you for the times to come, and equip you for the times you are living in right now. Supervolcanoes, asteroids and pandemics are the laughably improbable bogeymen for a decline that's already taking place. Peak oil, economic collapse, global warming and income inequality factor high on the authors' TEOTWAWKI list for good reason. Unlike far-flung extinction level events that we can do very little about except grin and bear, the scientific community is lined up to support the authors' assertions. American collapse is simply the other side of the hard-fought bell curve that the baby boomers giddily bounced on top of when they got back from the war. Now far beyond driven into the red, the authors point to chunks of the American Dream as they crumble off, and warn us of the next pieces to fracture, only this time perhaps more violently.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mark Sundeen on February 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
One of the rare books that changed the way I understand the world. I started thinking that end-timers had been around forever, but Gross and Gilles through meticulous research and dazzling persuasion show that this doomsday thinking is a product of Judeo-Christianity in general and post-Atom-bomb America in particular. Why does this matter? Because in a culture of Chicken Littles, we've come to ignore and mock the latest predicted catastrophe--be it Y2K or bird flu or the Mayan calendar--all the while standing paralyzed in the face of the climate crisis that is not a figment of our cultural imagination, but an unavoidable fact.

It might sound like a dense academic treatise but Gross and Gilles are not wonks but actual writers, and the prose is vivid, swift, and conversational. I read it in two long sittings. The books it reminded me of are Ecology of Fear by Mike Davis and What's the Matter with Kansas by Tom Frank, books that massage with wit while clobbering with information, giving that rare and delicious sensation of having your mind pried open and filled with new ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kiley on April 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Not only will it change the way you think it will change your life. We are now in a time that we must all make changes in our lives. We cannot wait for governments to make the changes, we must make the changes. We must take responsibility for all that we do and change. This book is a beautifully written history about humans and our belief systems. From secularists to religion lovers. A good mind bending read that is full of amazing history. Easy to read, you wont want to put it down & at the end you will want more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rocco mastrangioli on March 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are a prepper or worry about the end of the world, then hop on and take a ride to the past and see where all this end of the world or America thinking comes from. You will be surprised, especially if you are religious, that our holy books do not talk about the apocalyptic endings but come from other sources. Incredibility interesting, and revealing and also it scares me more than a Stephen King book, but also offers hope for the future like a Roddenberry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David H. Rosen on January 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
"The Last Myth" has earned its place alongside Philip Zimbardo's "The Time Paradox" and I.F. Clarke's "The Pattern of Expectation" as one of the best books on humanity's concept of the future. While its title promises an exploration of how apocalyptic thinking evolved, authors Mathew Barrett Gross and Mel Gilles also serve up answers to two other big questions: why did humanity change from thinking that time is circular to linear, and how has the idea of progress changed from the Renaissance through today? All three ideas are woven together in a compelling, jargon-free narrative that is -- no pun intended -- revelatory.

For example, there have been a number of points where people (granted, slowly) made a 180-degree change in how they think about time. In its earliest days, humanity interpreted life events as the forces of destruction seeking balance with the forces of creation. That changed into a concept of good continually battling evil. There was another period when people thought that every action was a repetition of what ancestors had done before them; there was nothing new under the sun. Over time, that opinion shifted to thinking each event is unprecedented and so history is leading us to some specific point, often utopian or dystopian in nature.

The authors wrap up their work by highlighting two alarming trends. The first is that apocalyptic thinking has hit levels in the past decade in America that haven't been seen worldwide in a thousand years. And second, the desire to view global events through an apocalyptical lens is clouding the ability to tackle real problems.

Suffice it to say, "The Last Myth" will be found educational and enjoyable by historians, futurists, and anyone who wants a fresh take on the concept of time itself.
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