Nicholas Guyatt. Have a Nice Doomsday: Why Millions of Americans Are Looking Forward to the End of the World. Harper Perennial, 2007.
Though this book has a fanciful title and is written with a light touch that at times combines a personal travelogue with portraits of the main figures of the North American prophecy scene, Guyatt is a serious scholar with a serious agenda. A history professor at Simon Fraser University and contributor to leftish political periodicals, Guyatt took it upon himself to try to understand the amazing phenomenon of prophecy belief among North American Christians–and its impact on our broader political culture.
He traveled throughout North America, talking with many of the major figures (including Tim Lahaye–though despite his best efforts, Guyatt never manages to secure an audience with Hal Lindsey [he does talk with several of Lindsey’s close associates]). He also has read widely in the literature and perceptively gives us the historical background for this phenomenon.
The result is an engaging and informative portrayal of an important American sub-culture. Guyatt does an impressive job of getting people to talk with him–and largely succeeds at presenting a human (and humane) picture instead of the cardboard caricatures too easily settled for in much critical writing on this topic. And, in the end, Guyatt is critical. He does not let his own distaste for the views of the LaHayes and Lindseys color his reporting–but he is not simply a neutral observer either.
I think this is a fine book. It is readable, engaging, informative, enjoyable, and useful for anyone who wants better to understand this phenomena.