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Mary Manjikian’s Apocalypse and Post-Politics: The Romance of the End advances the thesis that only those who feel the most safe and whose lives are least precarious can engage in the sort of storytelling which envisions erasing civilization. Apocalypse-themed novels of contemporary America and historic Britain, then, are affirmed as a creative luxury of development. Manjikian examines a number of such novels using the lens of an international relations theorist, identifying faults in the logic of the American exceptionalists who would argue that America is uniquely endowed with resources and a place in the world, both of which make continued growth and expansion simultaneously desirable and inevitable. In contrast, Manjikian shows, apocalyptic narratives explore America as merely one nation among many, whose trajectory is neither unique nor destined for success. Apocalypse and Post-Politics ultimately argues that the apocalyptic narrative provides both a counterpoint and a corrective to the narrative of exceptionalism.

Apocalyptic concepts provide a way for contemporary Americans to view the international system from below: from the perspective of those who are powerless rather than those who are powerful. This sort of theorizing is also useful for intelligence analysts who question how it all will end, and whether America’s decline can be predicted or prevented.

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