The End of the World by Lewis H. Lapham

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Synopsis

The Romans at Pompeii, the Confederates at Richmond, and the German Jews in 1938 all had reason to believe that the world was ending. But when the storm had passed and the dust had cleared, no matter what the destruction, the world was ending. But when the storm had passed and the dust had cleared, no matter what the destruction, the world still turned. This fascinating collection contains works by diverse historians including Plato, Thucydidies, Pliny, Leonardo da Vinci, John Donne, Freud, Mencken, and Picasso. Mary Chestnut writes in her diary as the Confederacy crumbles around her; Jack London describes the great earthquake that struck San Francisco in 1906; a Bolshevik watches the Winter Palace fall in 1917; a Polish poet fights for food in Auschwitz. Soldiers from every major war from ancient Rome through Vietnam march toward death; a writer toils while the Black Plague topples those around him; a monk watches the Aztec empire fall to the Spaniards; the Middle Passage defies humanity and life. The most famous episodes of human tragedy are described by the men and women who lived them.

With an introduction by Simon Schama, this fully illustrated anthology of first-person accounts of disaster from Thucydides to CNN, from Pompeii to the Holocaust, is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring, as terrifying as it is fascinating.

 

About Lewis H. Lapham

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Lapham was born in San Francisco and educated at the Hotchkiss School, Yale University, and Cambridge University.
 
Published December 1, 1998 by Thomas Dunne Books. 297 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

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Lapham’s decision to focus on gifted writers (a roster that includes Thucydides, Boccaccio, John Donne, Voltaire, the Shelleys, Karl Marx, Henry Adams, Sigmund Freud, and Primo Levi) makes for a particularly readable collection, though one somewhat lacking in a feel for the experience of ordinary...

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Entertainment Weekly

As the year 2000 approaches, there's more in the air than the problem of making reservations for the millennial New Year's Eve celebration at the right place with the right company — there's the acrid, smoldering-ruin scent of doomsday.

Mar 05 1999 | Read Full Review of The End of the World

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