Dan Carlin has the best podcast on history in the history of the world! Now he has a book. The title of the book is, “The End Is Always Near.” It is not the most uplifting subject you might be able to imagine, but it does hold your attention and is certainly timely with the new Coronavirus from China making the news. Is it a bookish weapon. Sure! It prepares you.
Anything Carlin would write of course would be about history and his point, I believe is that over the course of time the “end” has come again and again to civilizations. Hence it is always near. However, if you think his title is too morbid, he says he had an alternative title which was, “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.”
If all I did here was to list the titles of Carlin’s chapters it would be enough to get you to crawl back under the covers. So let’s do that!
Chapter 1 – Do Tough Times Make for Tougher People? (not scary, maybe positive-sounding)
Chapter 2 – Suffer The Children – (we are warming up here)
Chapter 3 – The End Of The World As They Knew It (now we are talking)
Chapter 4 – Judgement at Nineveh (this is not the biblical Jona story)
Chapter 5 – The Barbarian Life Style (interesting – certainly not scary)
Chapter 6 – A Pandemic Prologue (Very timely. I am going back to bed)
Chapter 7 – The Quick And The Dead (crawling back under the covers)
Chapter 8 – The Road To Hell (Can’t get any scarier than this)
Just by scanning the table of contents you get the idea. Pretty thought-provoking material.
Carlin discusses the great depression, the Second World War (which came right after the depression), the Blitz in London where the Germans dropped bombs for eighteen months. Then he talks about nuclear weapons. He speculates if people from the “Greatest Generation” were by percentage tougher than those of today. My guess is that it would be a higher percentage than what Carlin says.
“Perhaps we’re living in a time when toughness in the old sense doesn’t matter as much as it used to. If that is the case, then what advantages might a “softer” society have over a tougher one?” asks Carlin. I don’t think there are any advantages and I doubt Carlin does either.
He discusses how the Spartans, who were known for their toughness became “luxury-loving and corruptible.” If it can happen to the Spartans it can happen to any society.
It was really tough for children in the past. Even for those of the Great Generation who grew up thinking corporal punishment was ok. Take a look at some of the ways their parents punished them: “whips of all kinds, cat-0-nine-tails, shovels, canes, and Iron and wooden rods.” I knew a girl who’s father would beat her with a horsewhip and a boy who’s father beat him with a razor strap (he was a barber). Of course, my Junior High School Principal had one of those paddles with holes in it that would raise blisters and I had a math teacher that threw me up against the wall. My parents did call the school about that, but only because he tore my shirt.
In prior generations, children were sold, says Carlin. They witnessed torture and violence of all kinds. Mothers didn’t nurse their kids. They had wet nurses do it.
The Ending of Civilizations
The Bronze Age ended quickly and Carlin says historians argue about what happened and how it happened. It could have been a number of things or one thing. Read the book
Nineveh was an ancient city mentioned in the Bible. It was destroyed in spectacular fashion all at once. Carlin says the locals living in the area didn’t even know how it happened.
Carlin discusses the Roman Empire and what happened to them. It was interesting how the Roman legions became more and more germanic.
Carlin speculates about how the reformation of the Catholic Church may have been at least partially due to plague deaths, because the plague killed most of the officials in the church so they had to replace them with very young inexperienced men who had no one left to teach them. This then led to all sorts of nastiness.
Carlin says, “We can’t know how many in all died. While estimates put the figure at 75 million, countless out-of-the-way farms and towns and even cities may not have been included in the final toll.”
Then Carlin begins to discuss the bomb. I was born six days after the very first atomic bomb was detonated and one month after I was born the United States dropped one on Japan. It has only been 74 years since then and that is not very long if you consider the scope of history. Carlin wonders how long we can keep a nuclear war from happening.
He recounts the Cuban Missile Crisis and discusses what was said in meetings with Kennedy and his staff. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I recall riding home on the school bus wondering if we were all going to get nuked.
As usual Carlin makes history more interesting by considering the human side of it. Get this book and read it. Then you won’t be so surprised at what might be coming just around the bend.