This is the eleventh in a series of (hopefully) no more than twelve dismally written, thinly plotted novels filled with flimsy and unconvincing characters. Only popular fascination with apocalyptic prophecy can explain the series' sale so far of 5o million copies. A third of Americans believe that current events in the Middle East were prophesied in the Bible, and 44 percent expect to see the literal return of Christ in their lifetimes. Given the influence of fundamentalist Christians in the Republican Party, and the role conservative Christian activists have begun to play in forming U.S. policy toward Israel and its neighbors, foreign policy students in the United States and abroad are increasingly searching to understand their influential world view. The Left Behind books will help. They dramatize (if the word can be used for such clunky plots) the interpretation of biblical "end times" taught at the Tim LaHaye School of Prophecy at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. Although other students of prophecy vigorously dispute details in LaHaye's interpretation, those wanting to familiarize themselves with the overall end-time scenario that has gripped the imagination of tens of millions of American voters would do well to start here. Interested parties can also go to the series' Web site, www.leftbehind.com, where they will encounter one of the greatest orgies of religious marketing since itinerant indulgence sellers infuriated Martin Luther. Here the Left Behind books can be purchased in comic-book form. Although not the cheapest, this is certainly the least painful and most time-efficient way to follow the series; the videos are beginning to appear, but they take too long to watch.