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Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs through the Ages (1999)
by Eugen Weber
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0674040805, Hardcover)Plagues, fires from heaven, worldwide computer failure--apocalyptic visions are nothing new. Indeed, they may well be a necessary part of life. As historian Eugen Weber points out, "apocalyptic prophesies are attempts to interpret the times, console and guide, and suggest the future." In Apocalypses: Prophesies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs Through the Ages, Weber presents a history of end-of-the-worldisms, such as the panics during the sack of Rome in A.D. 410, multiple medieval Second Comings, Yeats's prediction of a "Celtic Armageddon" in 1899, and late-20th-century fears. This is no mere laundry list, however; Weber analyzes each of these beliefs and uses their historical contexts to make them more understandable. Weber's witty prose is tempered by an obvious respect for those with "alternative rationalities." Most readers, however, will enjoy watching these millennial beliefs recur throughout history--and perhaps breathe a sigh of relief. As Weber argues, St. Augustine's advice continues to ring true today: rather than trying to reckon the years before the end of the world, "relax your fingers and give them a little rest."
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:47 -0400)
The author presents apocalyptic visions and prophesies from "the ancients of the West and the Orient ... the Jews and earliest Christians ... Asia, Africa, and South America," and shows how these "beliefs inspired Crusades, scientific discoveries, works of art, voyages such as those of Columbus, rebellions, and reforms."--Jacket.
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