Z Shaw reviews The Last Myth on Amazon. This is one that we are particularly pleased to receive — he gets it:
The Last Myth enriches and expands our understanding of the times we live in. It goes far beyond what we might expect of a book about the end of times. Through a fascinating historical narrative buoyed by strong empirical evidence, this exemplary work of nonfiction sets forth a case for transforming America’s hegemonic and flawed concept of ‘infinite progress’ as we hurtle toward an unsustainable and collectively ugly resource-depleted future. In doing so, it becomes the panacea for the mindless mindfulness of the New Age. It makes sense of the teeming Rapture-ready herds champing at the armageddon bit. It defines, deconstructs and disposes of our modern secular culture of apocalyptic obsession. In short: it blows asteroids out of the sky.
In the end, The Last Myth may change the way you think about your place in the grand scheme of things. But perhaps more importantly, it will steel you for the times to come, and equip you for the times you are living in right now. Supervolcanoes, asteroids and pandemics are the laughably improbable bogeymen for a decline that’s already taking place. Peak oil, economic collapse, global warming and income inequality factor high on the authors’ TEOTWAWKI list for good reason. Unlike far-flung extinction level events that we can do very little about except grin and bear, the scientific community is lined up to support the authors’ assertions. American collapse is simply the other side of the hard-fought bell curve that the baby boomers giddily bounced on top of when they got back from the war. Now far beyond driven into the red, the authors point to chunks of the American Dream as they crumble off, and warn us of the next pieces to fracture, only this time perhaps more violently. All the while, a pragmatic optimism persists, and the authors are strictly professional when it comes to the presentation of the facts.
You’d have to be living under a rock to not see the changes taking place, and yet this is the very argument put forward. Our rock is our cultural identity, which we cling desperately to during the onset of what feels like the end to us. Behind the magnetic pole shifts and solar flares, we are not only hiding from our own inevitable death — we’re coping with the tenuous nature of being alive. What is the value of one’s life’s work if there is no future for it (or in it)? Gross and Gilles smack the existentialism out of the reader’s head to get to the facts: the time to do something is now. Not because the whole world is going to end, but because the illusion of infinite prosperity via technology is giving way to the reality of a finite natural world.
As I set the book down after voraciously tearing through to its humble but enthralling conclusion, I couldn’t help but think of how future generations would regard mine. After reading The Last Myth, I think history will split us into three groups: those who started the fire, those who threw fuel on it, and those who knew well enough to stay far away from the spreading conflagration. Up until now, we Americans were free to belong to all three groups. But with every passing day, that’s changing. The groups are getting more polarized. Eventually the fire will consume most of those dancing around it. History is written by the survivors.