Book Review: A Handbook of Human Misfortune – The Doomsday Handbook

Jeremy Liu | February 4, 2013

Curious of how the world could end? Haven’t had enough of speculative science? Keep this handbook on hand.

Written in clear, concise prose, the Doomsday Handbook by Alok Jha describes the many doomsday scenarios currently theorized by leading scientists. In just under three hundred pages, Jha comprehensively covers virtually every possible end to the world, drawing from the influences of Stephen Hawking and Ronald Reagan. To provide a crystal clear idea of each doomsday scenario, Jha elegantly fuses history and speculation, seamlessly bringing us up to speed in each of the many relevant fields of science. Well-researched and sourced, the book is a quick read, perfect for a commute or an occasional read. For the data junkie, Jha includes just enough numbers and figures to keep us on our toes without leading us into a jungle of convoluting numbers.

Although Jha’s words are clear, his organization of the doomsday scenarios leaves something to be desired. While the descriptions of potential scenarios are illuminating, Jha fails to provide a sense of comparison between each situation. For example, the extinction of the honeybees and an invasion of extra-terrestrials clearly differ in likelihood and their impact on humans, but the author does not acknowledge how much the two scenarios differ. It may have been helpful if Jha included a chart at the beginning of each section displaying the likelihood, potential impact, and time frame of each doomsday scenario. Overall, the Doomsday Handbook presents an excellent overview of current doomsday scenarios but lacks in organization and clarity.