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A Very Brief History of Eternity
Carlos Eire

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"Eire is an avuncular companion. While his subject may be beyond comprehension, Eire himself is imminently accessible and genuinely concerned for the reader's edification. And his dashes of humor, witty and sharp, are a welcoming leavening to a sometimes heavy read. Yet this book is ideal for lovers of The Big Idea, people who enjoy an author's attempt at explaining something they always thought about but didn't know what questions to ask, and people who enjoy reading about the most basic things, like being and nothingness, here and eternity."--John Stoehr, New Haven Advocate

"You could say that Carlos Eire goes on and on about eternity--but most of the time he does so informatively and entertainingly. And without sacrificing the intellectual rigour the subject requires."--Steven Carroll, The Age

"[The book] contains many good things and is especially good on the symbiosis between understandings of eternity and the ways the dead and the living relate. It is written in a relaxed and lively style."--Paul J. Griffiths, First Things

"Eire's erudite, engaging, and often witty history should interest anyone interested in Dickinson's 'Flood subject' (L319), as she called her understanding of immortality."--Barbara Kelly, EDIS Bulletin

"[Eire] writes with style, wearing his erudition lightly. . . . A Very Brief History of Eternity achieves very well what it sets out to do: to enlighten while proceeding at pace."--Reverend Dr. Andrew Davison, Church Times

"A Very Brief History of Eternity . . . is both erudite and entertaining. Eire's ability to explain complex ideas and to elucidate the ways in which concepts of eternity have affected the way human beings live as well as being themselves affected by human activity, have made the book popular among readers. While the topic chosen by Eire, eternity, is thought-provoking and momentous, requiring the readers' full attention, Eire saves his book from being too formidable a treatise with gentle humor and witty asides."--Shawncey Webb, Magill's Literary Annual

"A history of the concept of eternity in Western thought is a brilliantly original idea, and Carlos Eire makes complex ideas easily accessible. Eire is deeply learned in history, philosophy, theology, literature, language, and popular culture. . . . [T]his is a book that deserves a lot of attention by historians, philosophers, and theologians, and it is written so clearly that it will also interest the literate public."--Jeffrey Burton Russell, Catholic Historical Review

"While his style is relaxed, he covers so much ground . . . that readers will find and feel that, in its own way, the book is weighty. . . . Eire knows that we know that one cannot think or write historically about eternity. So his book is a history of human questionings, ponderings, and sometimes foolishly or frighteningly bold dealings with the concept. What he finds and details, yes, briefly, should enrich the reflections of historians as they deal with time."--Martin E. Marty, Journal of Church History


"As learned as it is lively, Carlos Eire's A Very Brief History of Eternity traces the elusive history of a very big idea. Eire teaches us to understand our ways of thinking about the future--as well as the present and our past--with new clarity and insight."--Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

"A Very Brief History of Eternity is vintage Eire: erudite and witty, profound and written with a light touch. Eire compellingly narrates the ways in which complex beliefs about eternity are intertwined with the way life is lived in time. It is an invitation to reflect on how eternity, even when it is absent from view, can make, as he puts it, 'a hell of a difference.'"--Miroslav Volf, Yale University Divinity School

"Carlos Eire doesn't disappoint. The breadth of detail, the depth of imagination, the ability to synthesize and to identify the telling example--and all for such an impossibly expansive topic as eternity--are astonishing. We get glimpses throughout of the creativity that graced his memoir of Cuba, and evidence everywhere of his massive learning."--Craig Harline, author of Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Super Bowl

"Carlos Eire's A Very Brief History of Eternity is precisely what you would expect from a formidable historian who is also an acclaimed memoirist. Strikingly erudite and profound yet accessible, this book will appeal to anyone who takes pleasure in being enlightened and entertained at the same time."--Peter Iver Kaufman, University of Richmond

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File created: 4/21/2017

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