I first read the book (in paperback) in about 1977, while getting my sea legs in apologetics and cultural criticism in the midst of the very secular University of Oregon, where I was a newly-converted undergraduate. We studied the book for a course taught by a Christian at the University. Guinness's assessment of Western culture was trenchant, deeply researched, and confident--not only challenging both the establishment and the counterculture, but offering a uniquely Christian way of being in the world. He did not shrink back, but stuck his neck out into the world of ideas. On that neck was a formidable and incisive intellect, one that I would benefit from for decades to come.
I mark this book (along with several others mentioned elsewhere on this blog) as giving me intellectual confidence as a Christian while I was immersed in the secular university. Guinness was interdisciplinary without being anything like dilettante--assessing his broad and deep subject matter historically, philosophically, sociologically, psychologically, and theologically. Guinness interrogates the likes of Herbert Marcuse, Sigmund Freud, Friederick Nietzsche, Jacques Ellul, Marshall McLuham, and many others. While he drew inspiration from Francis Schaeffer, Guinness was his own man, and took Schaeffer's critiques to a deeper levels and addressed topics not tackled by that great man.
Call me a book fetishist, but I relish this well-kept (but never read) edition of The Dust of Death, with the modern art on the front cover and the granular photograph of the young Englishman on the back. I plan to reread and re-appreciate it.