A Guide to Years Ending in 4

War, famine, pestilence and death — the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — have been well represented in years ending in “4,” but probably not disproportionately so. A look at memorable moments in the last seven of these just might lead to optimism for the one that’s upon us. Or not.

1944 Those of us who don’t remember this year are lucky; a soldier cited in Rick Atkinson’s brilliantly horrifying saga of the last two years of the war in Europe, “The Guns at Last Light,” quotes King Lear: “The worst is not, So long as we can say, ‘This is the worst.’ ” The end of the war was in sight; getting there was the trick, and millions were killed in the interval. Things have not been this bad since.

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