From Austen to zombies!
I've read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction in the last few years. Usually zombies show up, or vampires, or else it's like Mad Max where bands of yahoos roam the wasted countryside, bringing destruction and disorder. Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon" brings us a different scenario--for a dystopia, this is pretty utopian.
Randy Bragg is a lawyer in Fort Repose, Florida. He's kind of mooching along and drinking too much. Then the bombs fall. The world changes, and Randy changes with it as he finds himself responsible for leading a group of friends and family. Together, they work to survive in the Contaminated Zone. They're lucky--Fort Repose was too far away from the blast zones to get much radiation. With the help of a strong wind on The Day, as they call it, crops and water are spared. It's a matter of working with what they have left.
It's here that the book's original publication year (1959) becomes evident. Blacks and whites are suddenly desegregated--the significance of that may be a puzzle for younger readers, who may not know of awful stuff like "Colored" drinking fountains. They use the CONELRAD system for getting their information--horribly flawed, CONELRAD was replaced in 1963.
Perhaps strangest of all, people seem awfully polite. Fights are few, and the Fort Reposians immediately begin to help each other out in a town-picnic, chore-wheel kind of way. Drama is infrequent. Even the yahoos (who do eventually show up) don't use the f-word. I've heard of worse circumstances in a modern-day high school.
The main lessons of the book are still useful, however. One is, prepare for disaster--physically and mentally; don't expect your hair dryer to work! Another: just because the world changes, it doesn't mean you can't change yourself for the better. And, perhaps most important: stick together and show each other kindness; friends and family are all you really have, especially when the world is a mess.
I can imagine that this book was pretty scary for the Mad Men-era people who read it first. But as I listened to Will Patton's comfortable Carolina accent describing the fear and devastation, I realized why Pat Frank wrote this book--the Fort Repose survivors aren't scientists or world leaders. They're just regular small-town people, and they make it. You can, too.
Recommended for anyone interested in history--whether alternate or real.
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed the book set in central Florida after a Russian nuke attack. Miami, Tampa, Homestead, Orlando and Jacksonville are all gone and millions more are dead throughout the rest of the country. Is survival possible? The most seemingly, insignificant day-to-day uses such as toothpaste, salt, toiletries, aspirin, etc, become luxuries in this post nuclear war event. Money becomes worthless and the rich and poor are now equals. Could you handle it?
This book popped up on my radar from time to time but because of some of the descriptions it never made it into my cart until a reviewer I follow mentioned it, so, needing something to download I half-heartedly put it in my cart. I have never been so surprised by a story in all the audio books I have listened to, it is simply wonderful.
A lot, or overwhelmingly most, of the books that delve into this subject matter are not written all that well, some contain important messages, like One Second After, which it turns out the author of which was influenced by this book, but by and large the writing is not the strong point of the books in this category. This book is a game changer, it is written with brilliance - the dialog, the characters, the plot and circumstance encompassed within the covers of this book are excellent, it set a standard for literature that has not been met since in this genre, and I like and read a lot of stories in this genre. This is an exciting well laid out story with a message everyone should be exposed to, as even though it was written in the '50's it is still as relevant today as it was then, maybe even more so.
The narration is also excellent, it does not get better as a match and enhanced the experience I am sure.
Highly, Highly recommended. I should have listened to this book a long time ago.
This book is well written, well narrated and just very, very interesting. I've read other books on this general topic and some may be more specific in detail, pack more of an anti-nuke sermon, or describe a greater spectrum of the challenges to be faced in an event such as this, but this book was very satisfying and just a darned good read. I believe it's important to keep in mind the fact that the year is 1959 when judging the actions/reactions of the characters, and think the author did a great job with creating the feel of the times. I wish it had been longer, but a sequel would most likely be anticlimactic, and the ending leaves the reader with enough material to spend some idle hours imagining where the folks of this little Florida town will take their lives from here on. Highly recommended.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Just finished this audio book, which by the way was written when I was only four years old . . . but for a few things, like the prices of things, etc., it could have been written today . . . America thinks the Federal Reserve is infallible . . . nothing is as sure as death and taxes . . . well, if there were no IRS, no central government, no grocery stores, no televisions or dvd players, no drive thrus . . .how WOULD we be able to survive? I grew up in the time when the threat of nuclear war was a real and present danger . . . when fall out shelters existed, and we had drills in school. The cold war was real, the USSR was our enemy. After high school, I became an army wife. We were stationed in Europe when the Berlin wall fell, and the cold war ended. Two sons have served in Iraq, a very different kind of war, yet the similarities of America's political correctness, complacency, and underestimation of the enemy are still here . . . and greater. We are a nation even more spoiled by conveniences than in 1959, yet the author had an uncanny grasp of human nature, both the tendency for evil, as well as good that exists, whether it is current day or centuries ago. The book will cause one to think, to ponder what is truly valuable, and for that alone it is priceless.
The plot itself is pretty fast-paced and an enjoyable, light-weight and upbeat look at the aftermath of a nuclear war. I think if you're a white male born before 1955, you'd get more enjoyment out of this. One problem is that the ending has an unrealistic patriotic Cold War vibe that could only have been written pre-Vietnam War. The other main problem is the portrayal of blacks and women. The book was probably enlightened from a white male point of view in 1959 -- even liberal -- but now, it's sexist and racist, albeit in a low-key way. Woman are put on a condescending pedestal. Sure they're strong-willed but they are not allowed to do dangerous things and are forced to stay behind to cook and clean and care for children while men do the real work. The black characters are honest and hard-working, good with mechanical things and manual labor, but treated as foot soldiers ordered around by the wise white men. They are followers absolutely and could never be considered leaders. I liked Will Patton as a narrator, even though he flubs some of his performance, accidentally reading narrative description in the voice of a character and stumbling in his flow now and then. But his voice is laid-back and has a nice drawl that fits the main character. I enjoyed the listen but if I knew what it was going to be like, I wouldn't buy it again.
The book was written in the late 1950's, so some of the things they refer to (like Western Union telegrams) seem knid of quaint, but it's a good story and keeps your interest.
First I must say that if I could rate the Narration alone I would give it 5+ stars. His skills are the best part of the audio production. I wish I could rate this a 4.5 stars because while it was a very good listen that kept me wanting to hear more, it dragged a tiny bit at times.. I will only give a 5 out of 5 when I am foced to stop listening because I MUST get some sleep. So this is well worth the credit - Very well written characters and plot, it is a little slow at times.
This book is a reflection of the time in which it was written, particularly when it comes to how women and minority people are depicted. This limited my enjoyment of it, but I did enjoy following the author's imagining of what it would be like for the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Overall I would recommend it.
First I am so impressed with the narration talent of Will Patton. I admire him as an actor but I was amazed at the art he puts into narrating this story. Thank you Mr. Patton! You made the story come to life for us. This book was required reading when I was in middle school (a very long time ago). The story is still very intriquing and keeps you hooked. It's hard to stop listening. My wife finished it in 2 days - because she couldn't turn it off. I was so disappointed when it was over. Excellent writing / excellent performance. Bravo Mr. Frank & Mr. Patton!