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April 09, 1984 12:00 PM

by J.C.J. Metford

Armageddon is just around the corner, we keep being told. But what is it? Citing Revelation 16:16, Metford says that Armageddon is “where the kings of the lower world are to be gathered together by the Beast, the Dragon and the false prophet (Antichrist) to make the final war on Christ.” This volume is scholarly and entertaining—yes, wonderfully entertaining—with 1,700 entries. The author, a professor emeritus at England’s University of Bristol, explains, for instance, that the mandrake root is a mythical aphrodisiac, sometimes identified with the “forbidden fruit.” When it is “pulled out of the ground, it utters a cry which kills anyone who hears it. It could only be obtained if a dog were tied to it and then called from a safe distance, after covering both ears with the hands. The dog would wrench out the plant and then fall dead from hearing the shriek.” How’s that for a conversation topper? (Thames and Hudson, $24.95)

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