Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days

by Tim LaHaye

Hardcover, 1996



Airline captain Rayford Steele goes in search of his family and answers to how billions of people just disappeared off the face of the Earth.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nesum
So I finally read it. I avoided it for more than a decade, but I finally did it. I should have kept avoiding it.

I really don't have any interesting in criticizing the theology here. I don't agree with it, but eschatology is a tricky field, and I'm probably way off on a lot of my ideas too. If you agree with this line of thinking, I really don't have a problem with that. If you agree more with me, then great. As long as you believe in Jesus and that He is going to return, then we can have a friendly debate about the rest of End Time prophesy and keep worshiping.

But the writing here is so bad that I must speak. There are only two characters in this book who are remotely different than any of the others. The first is Nicolae Carpathea, who is the most boring man ever. His "great speech" to the UN consisted of him droning on about the entire history of the organization and then him reciting the name of every country represented. Wha-?

The other is Hattie, and she only stands out because she is the most inconsistent character ever created. She's just all over the place!

The other characters are as dull as their names.

A fifth of the population disappears (a number that is WAY high), and a few days later no one seems to remember. Huh? That seems to me to be an important thing going on there. I would expect a little more coverage of that and less of the guy who recites the names of countries for a living.

I think the theology here is wrong, but supportable, but the writing is offensively bad. I gave it two stars instead of one because at least it was a quick read and only tortured me a few hours.
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LibraryThing member mesalamb
This book is crap. I tried to read the series so I could know for myself whether it had any merit. I could not stand to waste any more time reading past the first book. There is nothing good to say about it. It is so sad that this series became so popular.
LibraryThing member sirfurboy
This book was a terrible read. I have enjoyed Tim LaHaye's non fiction works, so I feel I gave these books a fair go, but the characters seemed quite one dimensional to me, the plot pondering and long and the whole thing based on some very bad theology.

I do not entirely understand the fixation many American Christians have with the secret rapture. It seems that the doctrine was invented in the 19th century among a group known as the Irvingites, who disintegrated following the failure of their prophecies to come to pass, but one of whose leaders had influence in another group that then proceeded to produce the Darby study bible that became very widely used in the US. Because of the ubiquity of this Bible, the notes in it became widely assimilated as a dsitinctive American orthodoxy, and one of these doctrines was that of the secret rapture, that this book uses as its theme.

That being the case, no one should read the book with any idea that its events would actually unfold as described. Read it as a work of fiction.

But with this in mind, I read the book as a work of fiction and still I hated it. Perhaps I am too close to the errant orthodoxy that informs the storyline, because it then held no surprises for me - and the quality of writing did not save it.

My best recommendation is to non American readers - read this to get into the mind set of one popular strand of American Christianity.
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LibraryThing member Evadare
As far as I know, this series might well be the worst novels ever written. The Christian blogger Slacktivist has done a better job deconstructing them than I ever could. I got as far as the third in the series this time. They're just appalling not just in a theological or ethical way, but they also totally fail as airport pulp thrillers because they're supernaturally boring. In fact, the only way I could get as far as I did was to go back to 'Good Omens' (Gaiman/Pratchett) and imagine Aziraphale and Crowley as my shoulder angel and demon giving it the MST3K treatment with me. Even then, they got too drunk to be coherent and I fell asleep. I keep this series here out of pure train-wreck syndrome.

Also, all the male characters have gay-porn-star names, and normally, I'd like that, but they managed to make even THAT unappealing to me, which ain't easy.
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LibraryThing member mephit
Hahaha. You know the expression "so bad it's good"? Well, that's not true of this book. Oh no.

For those unaware, it's the first book in a series written by dispensationalist US Christian conservatives: didactic works intended to promote their theology as well as being novels.

Left Behind was unintentionally funny. Many of the plot devices were madly implausible - a super-duper fertiliser formula making Israel richer than oil nations and thereby bringing relative peace (until the Russkies try to kill them)? Agrarian based economies don't work like that, and even if they did, money is so unlikely to solve all Israel's problems! Carpathia's fantastically moving speech consisting of reciting the names of every country?!

Overall, it was poorly written, the characterisation rather basic, and the inner lives rudimentary. On the plus side, it was readable, if clunky. On the minus, its didacticism was overt and it had a hammer for those points and knew how to use it. It took crude potshots at all sorts of targets, from the Jews to family planning.

I found it impossible to take the novel seriously and snickered long and loud. For me, the best part was the naming of "Tribulation Force" which was doubly a gift since it was very close to the end, thankfully. Oh me, oh my. Hahaha.

Needless to say, I shan't be rushing out to read any more of the several gazillion sequels, prequels and spin-offs from this stable.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I didn't expect to like this really. Not given what I'd heard of its Christian Fundamentalist plot and themes. However, I know this is enormously popular, a huge bestseller, and I do sometimes like to read such books, to better understand their appeal. And if they're really bad... Well, I found the Twilight Saga rather fun as a trainwreck and read the whole thing. This novel struck me as too stupid to bother with within a dozen pages though.

This novel, part of a series, has as its basis the doctrine held by some Christian sects about "the Rapture." The idea is that in the Last Days of Earth when Jesus returns those who are "saved" will be pulled out and spared the Tribulations. So in this novel such people are suddenly whisked away and those left have to deal with the aftermath.

I admit it, I soon did feel I wouldn't get through this, that it was too much like having pamphlet-wielding missionaries crowding me in a stuck elevator. But that aspect isn't what stopped me reading. Or the subpar writing evident from the first. No, a passage on Page 8 is what got to me. We're supposed to believe that a man invents "a synthetic fertilizer that caused the desert sands of Israel to bloom... making Israel the richest nation on Earth" with "zero unemployment" and they are then able to buy peace from their enemies. This is so breathtakingly spectacularly stupid on an a scientific, agricultural, economic and political level, in comparison the Rapture is easy to believe in, and right there I lost interest in anything the authors wanted to put before me.
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LibraryThing member Darrol
Bad and inadequate Bible interpretation along with a touch of soft porn and more than a touch of paranoia.
LibraryThing member jessicastatzer
I only read this book because it was chosen for my book club. I tried to approach it with an open mind but my reluctancy was confirmed. The book was unexciting, unfulfilling, and born from "Christian" paranoia. Do not take on this book unless you are willing to read the entire series. The author took 25 chapters to accomplish what could have been done in 5. The ending was no ending at all, it only sets up the next book in this very long series. In short I can't believe I wasted my time and brain cells on this book and would be more than a little embarassed to admit to reading it.… (more)
LibraryThing member Paul_Brunning
Book 1 in the best-selling Left Behind series is available once again in mass paper. Airline pilot Captain Rayford Steele guides his terror-filled 747 back to the ground with more than 100 seats empty except for clothes, jewelry, eyeglasses, shoes, and socks. He and Cameron "Buck" Williams, who had been on Rayford's plane, launch a frantic search for the truth.,Piloting his 747, Rayford Steele is musing about his wife Irene's irritating religiosity and contemplating the charms of his "drop-dead gorgeous" flight attendant, Hattie. First Irene was into Amway, then Tupperware, and now it's the Rapture of the Saints--the scary last story in the Bible in which Christians are swept to heaven and unbelievers are left behind to endure the Antichrist's Tribulation. Steele believes he'll put the plane on autopilot and go visit Hattie. But Hattie's in a panic: some of the passengers have disappeared! The Rapture has happened, abruptly driverless cars are crashing all over, and the slick, sinister Romanian Nicolae Carpathia plans to use the UN to establish one world government and religion. Resembling "a young Robert Redford" and silver-tongued in nine languages, Carpathia is named People's "Sexiest Man Alive." (This reviewer, a former People writer, finds this plot twist plausible.) Meanwhile, Steele teams up with Buck Williams, a buck-the-system newshound, to form the Tribulation Force, an underground of left-behind penitents battling the Antichrist. Ex-presidential candidate Pat Robertson briefly outsold Michael Crichton with his apocalypse novel The End of the Age (now available on audiocassette), and the similar The Third Millennium sells well, but the Left Behind series is the absolute champion in the race to make the Book of Revelation into racy thriller reading. --Tim Appelo ,Left Behind: A Novel Of The Earth's Last Days, by LaHaye, Tim And Jerry B. Jenkins… (more)
LibraryThing member hamiltonpam
Read the entire series, enjoyed the story. I wanted to learn more about the theology the book was based on.
LibraryThing member elizabethholloway
This book is best described as Christian pulp fiction. On the one hand is the personal story of Rayford’s conversion, overwrought and tedious, and his attempts to convert his daughter—this minute—since she could die at any moment in these dangerous times. On the other hand, there is the thriller angle as Buck Williams follows the dead bodies and prophecies to the Antichrist’s doorstep. For people who share the author’s beliefs, this story is no doubt compelling. For me, it certainly had some interesting moments but it was way too drawn out.… (more)
LibraryThing member jvalka
Clunky, leaden writing. I found the first 50 pages to be outrageously funny, especially the bits between Captain Steele and the stewardess, Hattie. After 150 pages it became tedious rather than amusing, and so I gave up on it.
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
2.5 stars. Rayford Steele is an airline pilot, flying a commercial flight; Buck Williams is a journalist and a passenger on the same plane. Mid-flight - all of a sudden - people disappear into thin air, leaving their clothes behind. They discover that millions of people have disappeared in the same manner at the same time, all around the world. Rayford turns to God and his wife's church for comfort and answers; Buck the journalist is just trying to find out what happened.

I like the idea behind the story, and parts were exciting, but the book just got too preachy for me. There was some political stuff in the book that I just didn't find all that interesting either, so those two things combined really brought down my rating and enjoyment of the book. It ends on a cliffhanger, which may have left me wanting to read the next book, except I just can't handle the preachiness of it all, so I won't be continuing.
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LibraryThing member carlienichole
I loveed this book. It was amazing to read about people becoming christian during the horrible times they were going through. They come to truly love Christ and their transformation is absolutely wonderful.
LibraryThing member adeej
The start of this wonderful series. Creative idea - very gripping. Loved it!
LibraryThing member mcivalleri
This story deals with various controversial subjects, from infidelity to the myth of “revelations”. It may or may not be appropriate for your school's library, but it would be a judgement you'd have to make. If a novel derived from religious mythology is not offensive to you and your readers, it sure is a roller-coaster ride of a thriller!… (more)
LibraryThing member ladytn
This is one of the best Christian fiction book series that I have ever read. I would highly recommend this book and all the other in the series
LibraryThing member minpin3G
Although these books have been on the market for a while, I only recently decided to read them. After reading this one, I was hooked. I feel connected to each character, I felt their fear and pain for all of their losses. This was a very easy read, and although not my usual type of thriller, I am rating this among the top in my library.… (more)
LibraryThing member SonicQuack
Left Behind is a series that has passed me by somehow. With no preconception I dived in and found a refreshing take on the End of Days. From the outset the book creates a solid air of mystery, which is wrapped up in this first book, whilst creating a plan for the epic series ahead. The central characters aren't as fleshed out as they could be, the narrative style seems aimed at young adults, rather than the more mature sci-fi readers. In fact, at several times I felt preached to, as if the writers were trying to sell Christianity to me. That aside, the plot is strong and Left Behind definitely succeeds as a fresh, if religion-heavy, approach to the subject matter. Worth reading and will probably hook you to read further entries.… (more)
LibraryThing member RWJ678
Wow....this book will grab your attention right from the jump. This has the great balance between fiction and non-fiction with someone seeking spiritual answers about the end of times. Great story line, with characters that keep you wanting to turn the page. In reading this, you must have an open mind and basic understanding of biblical teachings.… (more)
LibraryThing member ShortyBond
All of the Left Behind books are provacative and page turning. I read them all at least once a year.
LibraryThing member SpelmanLady99
This is the first of a great christian book series that depcits life after the rapture. The characters are left behind after their loved ones are taken during the rapture. The series talks about their journey to Christianity during the time before the return of Christ. Great book and series. I enjoyed reading all of the books.… (more)
LibraryThing member eljabo
I've decided this series is the VC Andrews of Christian fiction - trashy, trashy, trashy. I'm not sure why I picked it up - maybe all that 2012 crap I've been devouring. I just know I'm now going to have to read to the terrible end of this series.

The book was is preachy and hilarious. My favorite part was that the chosen peeps were taken to heaven without any clothes - in fact, even their contact lenses were left behind. (Am I juvenile to find that funny?) I was also impressed that fetuses were taken - but not the pregnant women.

Can't wait to read what happens next!
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LibraryThing member annenoise
I was going to say this book wasn't gripping, and is truly one of the least interesting of the entire series, but clearly it hooked me enough to read fifteen more books in the series. Straight-forward, rarely artistic, purely for the sake of narrative, which is purely for the sake of interpreting Biblical scripture - supposedly. Interesting juxtopisation of Christian beliefs and wartime strategy, violence and inhumanity. Surprisingly gory in places. Individual characters found almost no significant voices themselves in this, the first book, but the seeds are planted to see the core family - The Steeles, Ray and Chloe, and Buck Williams - eventually have real struggles and conflicts. It's basically almost entirely setup, a promise of more interesting material to come, which was true enough.… (more)
LibraryThing member cdp02005
Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (Left Behind No. 1) by Tim LaHaye (1996)


Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (1996)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

468 p.


0842329110 / 9780842329118
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