The Temple Mount is the spot where the Temple of the Jews once stood, andit is where the Temple will be rebuilt when the Messiah comes. It is also,however, the Noble Sanctuary, the third-holiest site in Islam, the spotwhere Muhammad ascended to heaven nearly fourteen hundred years ago. TheTemple is the site of millennial hopes and aspirations for Christianity,Judaism and Islam alike, which is why journalist Gershom Gorenberg makesit the focus of his study of fundamentalism, millennialism and the havocthat religious passion can wreak on ordinary life.

Millennialism--thebelief that the end of the world is imminent--is, Gorenberg argues, thecentral ideology driving politics in the Middle East. It motivates the"apocalyptic foreign policy" promoted by the religious right, in whichsupport for Israel is key to bringing about the coming of the Messiah."Belief in final redemption" drives the most hard-line Israeli oppositionto giving an inch in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. And amongMuslims, millennial fear helps to stoke anxiety about what Israel does inJerusalem. Gorenberg's examination of millennial fear is gripping anddisturbing, a reminder that even within modern society, irrational passionswirls around us everywhere, sucking even those who strive for toleranceand reason headlong into the vortex.