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March 30, 2009 / schulerbooks

Review: The Pessimist’s Guide to History Doris Flexner & Stuart Berg Flexner

We pessimists find the frenzy surrounding fear of 2012 to be rather amusing; the human race has always seemed to teeter on the brink of collapse, be it from without — in the case of meteors, earthquakes and the bubonic plague – or from within via nuclear weapons, genocide, or grotesquely greasy food combined with a sit-on-your-ass lifestyle.

I’ve found a book that illustrates the point beautifully, promoted as “an irresistible compendium of catastrophes, barbarities, massacres, and mayhem,” encompassing the past 14 billion years. From the St. Vitus Dance Epidemic of 1347 (which may or may not have resurfaced during the disco years) to Hurricane Katrina (“In a classic double whammy, the government response also devastates the Gulf Coast”), this detailed timeline proves that we’ve always been one step away from annihilation and, hey, things might be better off without us.



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