The End of the World As We Know It

Faith, Fatalism, and Apocalypse in America

294 pages

43 illustrations

May, 1999

ISBN: 9780814793480



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Daniel Wojcik is Associate Professor of English and Folklore at the University of Oregon and author of Punk and Neo-Tribal Body Art. He received his Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

All books by Daniel N. Wojcik

From religious tomes to current folk prophesies, recorded history reveals a plethora of narratives predicting or showcasing the end of the world. The incident at Waco, the subway bombing by the Japanese cult Aum Supreme Truth, and the tragedy at Jonestown are just a few examples of such apocalyptic scenarios. And these are not isolated incidents; millions of Americans today believe the end of the world is inevitable, either by a divinely ordained plan, nuclear catastrophe, extraterrestrial invasion, or gradual environmental decay,

Examining the doomsday scenarios and apocalyptic predictions of visionaries, televangelists, survivalists, and various other endtimes enthusiasts, as well as popular culture, film, music, fashion, and humor, Daniel Wojcik sheds new light on America's fascination with worldly destruction and transformation. He explores the origins of contemporary apocalyptic beliefs and compares religious and secular apocalyptic speculation, showing us the routes our belief systems have traveled over the centuries to arrive at the dawn of a new millennium. Included in his sweeping examination are premillennial prophecy traditions, prophecies associated with visions of the Virgin Mary, secular ideas about nuclear apocalypse, the transformation of apocalyptic prophecy in the post-Cold War era, and emerging apocalyptic ideas associated with UFOs and extraterrestrials.

Timely, yet of lasting importance, The End of the World as We Know It is a comprehensive cultural and historical portrait of an age-old phenomenon and a fascinating guide to contemporary apocalyptic fever.


  • "A marvelous book, at once comprehensive and highly readable, a fascinating analysis of doomsday cults and apocalyptic anxiety.”

    —Michael Owen Jones, University of California, Los Angeles

  • "The End of the World As We Know It makes accessible to both scholars and general readers the amazing panorama of millenarian scenarios abounding in America at the end of the millennium."

    —Robert S. Ellwood, University of Southern California

  • "Will stand for some time as the best survey and analysis of the meaning and place of apocalypticism and millennialism in American culture."

    Religion and Literature

  • "Fascinating [and] intelligent . . . should be required reading."