THE END OF THE WORLD:
A HISTORY by Otto Friedrich
Coward, McCann & Geohegan
384 pages; $19.95
Up to a certain age, the young have a happy difficulty accepting the inevitability of their own death. But at no point in history has any human being of any age had a problem imagining the end of the world. The day the sun does not rise seems to be buried like a dread case of déjà vu in the collective unconscious, just waiting for a sign or portent to release it.
Otto Friedrich, a senior writer at...