Item description for Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (Left Behind #1) by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins...
Overview After millions of people around the world vanish in one moment, in what many claim to be the Rapture, Rayford Steele begins a search for the truth amidst global chaos
Publishers Description After millions of people around the world vanish in one moment, in what many claim to be the Rapture, Rayford Steele begins a search for the truth amidst global chaos.
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Studio: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.34" Width: 5.58" Height: 1.24" Weight: 0.92 lbs.
Release Date Feb 12, 1996
Publisher Tyndale House Publishers
Series Left Behind
Series Number 1
ISBN 0842329129 ISBN13 9780842329125 UPC 9780842329125
Availability 0 units.
More About Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins
Dr. Tim LaHaye is a renowned prophecy scholar, minister, and author. His Left Behind(R) series is the bestselling Christian fiction series of all time. He and his wife, Beverly, live in southern California. They have four children and nine grandchildren. Greg Dinallo is a veteran suspense novelist. He lives with his wife, Gloria, in New York City.
From the Hardcover edition.
Tim LaHaye currently resides in the state of California. Tim LaHaye was born in 1926.
Tim LaHaye has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Left Behind (Left Behind V1)?
C.S. Lewis Still the Benchmark for Quality Christian Fiction Mar 25, 2007
We should start with full disclosure: I'm not a Christian and, in fact, I don't think much of Christianity as a religion.
That said, I believe that I can enjoy good Christian writing. For instance, C.S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite fiction authors (especially for The Great Divorce), and his Mere Christianity is my second favorite non-fiction work of all time. I was really interested in the idea of an "End Times" series, and hopeful that LaHaye and Jenkins would be able to pull off such a large undertaking. I opened this first book fully prepared to love it (even if I didn't agree with the theology behind it).
Sadly, though, I found that Left Behind not only fell far short of Lewis' mark, but that it simply isn't that great of a novel. Allow me to share with you some of my disappointments:
* Rings False. Obviously, as with any work of fiction, some suspense of disbelief is required. However, the *human elements* (like dialogue, character, etc.) still need to be believable, no matter what's happening plot-wise. And, in this book, the Rapture takes place--the world's Christians disappear--and... and... a few days later, life goes on, as normal.
Huh? Sure, the characters spend a little while grieving, but quickly they return to their jobs, to their lives and to their petty disagreements and squabbles. I'm sorry, but I imagine that an event such as the Rapture would effect people, and society, far more deeply than Left Behind seems to portray. These characters just don't react in a way that I recognize as being very human.
As long as we're discussing implausibility, however, we might as well mention that the plot events themselves really test the "suspension of disbelief" model. Sure: I understand that the authors are contorting to meet certain prophecies that they believe are in the Bible (though there are, apparently, disagreements about the accuracy of these interpretations), but they make no attempt to give a good, logical context for these happenings. The authors seem to feel that, if it would fulfill some sort of prophecy, then it needs neither rhyme or reason, it simply needs to happen. Thus, the Russians launch a nuclear strike against Israel over (apparently) jealousy that Israel has become so prosperous. If you need the Russians to invade Israel to satisfy a prophecy, that's fine, but at least come up with a plausible sounding reason for it.
* Unaddressed Questions. So, the "true" Christians (i.e. Fundamentalists) of the world get Raptured up to Heaven, and no one else, right? Well... I'd assume that this would mean that certain areas of the world would hardly have lost anyone at all. China, India, Indonesia, etc., (and even certain states within the U.S., such as Utah) would all basically be in tact. Why is this issue never brought up during this novel? Look, one of the two main characters we're following is a brilliant investigative journalist, charged with the task of writing an article explaining the mass disappearances... you don't think he might find it odd if certain (Christian) areas of the world lost more people, per capita, than others? You don't think anyone would find that strange? Or discuss it? At all? Never comes up.
Or, what of the reaction by the various world governments? We spend time at the United Nations, eventually, because that helps the authors get in some of their prophecy-fulfillment quota, but there's no word on the impact that this major event has had on, for instance, state, local and federal government within the U.S. Surely, the government would attempt to address things in some way, and likely in a way that would impact our characters. For instance, the Rapture results in hundreds of plane crashes, as pilots and air-traffic controllers disappear. The devastation is immense. Yet, one of our main characters, who is a commercial airline pilot, gets back to work, without hitch, almost immediately...!?
* Lack of Sympathy/Understanding. I understand that the authors obviously are quite devout in their beliefs. I don't begrudge them that. I fear, however, that their beliefs sometimes interfere in their ability to write about non-believers with either sympathy or understanding. At the start of the novel, all of our protagonists are non-believers (otherwise, they would be Raptured up and we wouldn't be able to read about them). One of the two main heroes, the airline pilot, Rayford Steele (yeah, I know...), is presented as an analytic-minded, willful non-believer--a man of logic who simply isn't convinced by the Christian argument, despite being married to a fundamentalist woman. And yet, following the Rapture, not only is Ray effortlessly converted to Christianity, but he immediately sets out to convert seemingly everyone around him.
People just don't work this way, and especially not for people who take their beliefs seriously.
Further, non-believers and their arguments are presented dismissively, even scornfully. They are mocked by the "heroes" for their "blindness" (by, let us remember, folks who were intentionally left out by Christ). This isn't even self-righteousness... it's a complete lack of empathy for others.
As I say, Rayford becomes Christian and then starts proselytizing to his daughter, Chloe, and co-worker, Hattie. Chloe and Hattie seem to become mere projects for Ray, as he abandons the normal relationships he once had with them and thinks of them only in terms of "people to be converted." It isn't a pleasant thing to watch, and less pleasant still is the realization that the novel's authors seem to think that this is right, and heroic, of Ray. I'd much rather Ray be a human father, trying to comfort Chloe (who's just lost her Mother and younger brother, and whose life is now upside-down) than preaching at her like she's at a revival meeting. But, of course, this novel is on the fundamentalist's dime, so....
I should also note that the authors go out of their way, at one point during the novel, to take a cheap shot at abortion, implying that the Rapture must be good for abortionists because it eliminates that nasty baby problem, as all of the babies were taken from their mother's wombs, (and that, if abortionists want people to be able to get pregnant again, and to continue their work, then abortionists must be interested in people suffering for pure, monetary gain). A completely unfair slam against a more sophisticated position than the authors are capable of appreciating. I wished, at several times reading this book, that it had been written by one believer and one non-believer, because the subject matter almost demands a reasonable understanding of the "other side" of things.
Well, I've already carried on at length on some aspects of this book that I found disappointing or inexplicable (and there are others, like why the Antichrist relies on thug-like tactics when it's apparent that he is able to control people's minds, or why Christians are determined to fight against the dark forces when it's clear that the whole shabang is God's plan, and, since it's all prophesized in the Bible, they really can't stop it)... so, I'll just say in closing that this novel isn't what it could have been.
Christianity is a powerful institution, rich in myth and history, and a competent fictionalization of the last battle between good and evil is an awesome idea. Unfortunately, for a host of reasons, this is a poor execution of that idea. The work commits sins of literary quality and also of philosophy that eventually drag this down to mere pulp status. I'm sure that certain Christians will like this book just because they enjoy something that reflects their personal beliefs, whether or not the work, on the whole, has merit (in the same way that lots of Scientologists love Battlefield Earth). But I'm hopeful that most Christians demand quality, even from Christian authors writing on Christian subjects.
Quality is not here. And I, and other readers interested in these sorts of topics, are forced to continue to look to C.S. Lewis in order to find that quality.
Two stars: A seriously flawed work, but still a readable one that some people will probably find enjoyable.
Interestign Christian fiction Mar 18, 2007
Left Behind is an interesting book of Christian fiction. Thought and self examination of religious views will, of course, follow upon reading this book. That's not to say that one should replace beliefs by what is read in these pages; it is afterall represented as Christian fiction. What this book does is make you think about the subject. The story follows characters as they experience and search for answers to events around them concerning bizarre happenings related to what is believed to be written about in the Bible's Book of Revelations. It is evident by the reviews here that people vary widely in their beliefs on the subject and its details. Let us look at this as an impetus to thought provoking discourse about an interesting book of Christian fiction.
A nutter's wet dream Mar 15, 2007
This is a great book if you subscribe to the modern American fundamentalist world view. See the world as clearly black and white, good v evil, have every word in your bible highlighted? Then this book and series for that matter is right up your alley. If you are more into the blood and gore aspect of the coming calamities to be visited upon the non-believers, skip ahead to the end of the series, where things get real interesting, you will see Jesus in a new light...err, darkness. Tired of wondering what the wonderful rapture and subsequent events of the book of revelations will bring, well hurry up and buy the book silly. Daddy, I mean pastor Joe gives it two thumbs pointed to the heavens.
Terrible, awful, writing Mar 1, 2007
A great idea for a novel, ruined by the most leaden writing. I can only assume they were told the cardinal rule of writing is "tell, don't show"
Really bad theology Feb 28, 2007
This book is poorly written and presents really bad theology. The writers have no concept of Apocalyptic literature and its role in the early Christian church. They also fail to share that the word "rapture" never even appears in the Biblical text and the very concept of the rapture has only been around for about 150 years. There is nothing Biblical about this book and it's a sad commentary on the Christian faith that they have been so successful in selling this trash.