Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America

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9780393046892: Apocalypse Pretty Soon: Travels in End-Time America

A writer for The New York Times Magazine introduces readers to Americans whose far-from-the-mainstream religious or political beliefs lead them to expect an apocalypse, in an illustrated account by turns funny and frightening.

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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

From the Inside Flap:

madness of America's apocalyptic and pre-millennial organizations may have reached a fever pitch with the turn of the twenty-first century, but intrepid cultural traveler Alex Heard spent a ten-year period witnessing the crescendo firsthand.  Heard's enthusiasm led him on errands as diverse as being a voyeur at a Republic of Texas militia standoff, accompanying an expectant UFO "greeting party" to a remote field in Minnesota, and enacting the grief of the California quail at an ad-hoc therapy group for fierce environmentalists who believe the earth is an actual living entity that's preparing to kill off its human population--and soon...or at least pretty soon.

Amazing as it may seem, however, throughout this trenchant subcultural travelogue, Heard never stoops to ridicule his subjects.  As one reviewer puts it, "Heard's real achievement may be that he makes us care--in a way that is more than voyeuristic--about the colorful characters he meets on the ro

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Alex Heard
Published by W. W. Norton & Company (1999)
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Heard, Alex
Published by W. W. Norton & Company (1999)
ISBN 10: 0393046893 ISBN 13: 9780393046892
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