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Apocalypses : Prophecies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs Through the Ages (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Eugen Weber (Author)

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1454147,053 (2.55)1
Apocalyptic visions and prophecies from Zarathustra to yesterday form the luxuriant panorama in Eugen Weber's profound and elegant book. Beginning with the ancients of the West and the Orient and, especially, with those from whom we received our religions, the Jews and earliest Christians, Weber finds that an absolute belief in the end of time, when good would do final battle with evil, was omnipresent. Within centuries, apocalyptic beliefs inspired Crusades, scientific discoveries, works of art, voyages such as those of Columbus, rebellions and reforms. In the new world, American abolitionists, who were so critical to the movement to end slavery, believed in a final reckoning. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries' apocalyptic movements veered toward a lunatic fringe, and Weber rescues them from obloquy. From this more than two millennia history, he redresses the historical and religious amnesia that has consigned the study of apocalypses and millennial thought to the ash heap of thought and belief. Weber, a master storyteller, turns detective in this latest book as he finds these alternative rationalities in the West, Asia, Africa, and South America. He writes with profound respect for the millennial pulse in history while never losing his urbane and witty style of writing. As we approach our second millennium beset by a host of apocalyptic predictions and cults, this book offers a map of understanding of the creeds we ignore at our peril.… (more)
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Title:Apocalypses : Prophecies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs Through the Ages
Authors:Eugen Weber (Author)
Info:Random House of Canada (1999), Edition: 1st
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Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs through the Ages by Eugen Weber (1999)

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Showing 4 of 4
Interesting subject, but very dry. ( )
  AldusManutius | Jul 5, 2020 |
I tried to read this a couple of times but just couldn't get past the first third. There's simply much too much information crammed into such a short book that it leaves no room for interpretation or for a coherent narrative to emerge. It might serve scholars as a timeline of apocalyptic-inspired events, but it's just a trudge to a lay reader like me. ( )
  giovannigf | May 17, 2019 |
Eugen Weber appropriately begins his book on apocalypses with a discussion of chronologies and the fin de siecle for, as he discusses, time is a social construct and the nature of fin de siecles is dependent upon this. The differing perspectives of time and the way we view historical events is the jumping off point for his discussion of the views and beliefs of people over the years regarding the end times. It is the book of Revelation and the "dark and bloody" apocaplypse that is described there that captured my imagination and was a starting point for a tour through history of the varying adpatations and expectations of humans regarding Apocalypses over the centuries. These views continue into our own violent and bloody century (both current and immediately preceding) where there are groups like the "Millenium Watch Institute" that keeps "an eye out for signs of the Coming" (p 209). Whether considered as "a growth industry" or a phenomenon of one of many belief systems, Armageddon has been a concept that has captured the imagination of humans for ages. Eugen Weber shares some insights on the history of this and other apocalyptic ideas in this fascinating and informative book. ( )
2 vote jwhenderson | Mar 15, 2011 |
clearly inferior to his older works; not really an interesting read ( )
  experimentalis | May 7, 2008 |
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For Jacqueline My first, last, everlasting day
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When the University of Toronto invited me to deliver the 1999 Barbara Frum Lecture, I was asked, appropriately enough, to talk about fins de siècle. (Introduction)
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Apocalyptic visions and prophecies from Zarathustra to yesterday form the luxuriant panorama in Eugen Weber's profound and elegant book. Beginning with the ancients of the West and the Orient and, especially, with those from whom we received our religions, the Jews and earliest Christians, Weber finds that an absolute belief in the end of time, when good would do final battle with evil, was omnipresent. Within centuries, apocalyptic beliefs inspired Crusades, scientific discoveries, works of art, voyages such as those of Columbus, rebellions and reforms. In the new world, American abolitionists, who were so critical to the movement to end slavery, believed in a final reckoning. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries' apocalyptic movements veered toward a lunatic fringe, and Weber rescues them from obloquy. From this more than two millennia history, he redresses the historical and religious amnesia that has consigned the study of apocalypses and millennial thought to the ash heap of thought and belief. Weber, a master storyteller, turns detective in this latest book as he finds these alternative rationalities in the West, Asia, Africa, and South America. He writes with profound respect for the millennial pulse in history while never losing his urbane and witty style of writing. As we approach our second millennium beset by a host of apocalyptic predictions and cults, this book offers a map of understanding of the creeds we ignore at our peril.

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From The Publisher: Eugen Weber delivered the Barbara Frum Historical Lecture, based on Apocalypses, at the University of Toronto in March 1999. This annual lecture "on a subject of contemporary history in historical perspective" was established in memory of Barbara Frum. Apocalypses Prophecies, Cults and Millennial Beliefs through the AgesThe Barbara Frum Historical LectureshipA national bestsellerWhat drove eminent historian Eugen Weber to write Apocalypses? His desire to redress the historical and religious amnesia that has consigned the study of apocalyptic and millennialist thought to the lunatic fringe. An absolute belief in the end time was omnipresent until the 17th century, and retains many adherents even now. Apocalyptic visions and prophecies inspired crusades, scientific discoveries, works of art, voyages such as those of Columbus, rebellions and reforms. Elegantly written, as witty and entertaining as it is profound, Apocalypses displays Eugen Weber's talents as a stylist and historical detective; this is more a travel book of the apocalypse than a definitive academic treatment. On the eve of a billennium beset by a host of apocalyptic predictions and cults, Apocalypses offers a sympathetic review of creeds we ignore at our peril.
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