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Alas, Babylon | [Pat Frank]

Alas, Babylon

This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness....
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Pat Frank's post-apocalyptic novel about a cold war that's finally boiled over into a nuclear doomsday over is over 50 years old, but it still feels entirely fresh. The post -apocalyptic world asks: Without our job, our social status, and our possessions what would we have left? Alas, Babylon answers unequivocally: our sense of duty to our fellow man, our bonds of love with family and friends, and, above all, our will to survive. Will Patton is electrifying as narrator, and his thunderous delivery of the novel's titular cry will remain with you long after you finish. — Michael

Publisher's Summary

This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly.

But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. Will Patton's narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilites of the nuclear age.

©1959 Harry Hart Frank (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Fiction, 2012

"An enthralling and vivid story of the follies and failures of people, their courage and cruelty, their treachery and triumphs. Mr. Frank is a magnificent writer." (Chicago Sunday Tribune)

"A warm, continuously interesting story of what can happen to a group of ordinary people in a perilous situation." (New York Herald Tribune)

“Will Patton is a calm and steady narrator whose quiet intensity wraps around this post-apocalyptic saga...He reflects the tones of deference of women to men, nonwhites to whites, and children to adults. In a conversational tone, he quietly brings the characters and their relationships to life.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (5613 )
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  •  
    Jefferson 10-18-11
    Jefferson 10-18-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How We Got Along After the Day???"

    When Randy Bragg, an aimless Korean war vet who has developed a taste for bourbon in his coffee while living in his hometown, Fort Repose, Florida, gets a telegram from his older brother Mark, a Colonel for Strategic Air Command, that closes with ???Alas, Babylon,??? Randy realizes that hydrogen bombs are about to start flying between the USSR and the USA. The rest of Pat Frank???s novel, Alas, Babylon (1959), depicts how Randy and his Fort Repose neighbors survive after ???the Day??? on which the bombs fell. Frank convincingly imagines the geo-politics that could lead to such a war, as well as the social and inter-personal dynamics of survival that would likely follow it.

    Frank???s novel is a post-holocaust communal Robinsoniad, with key things (like an uncontaminated river, an ancestor???s journal, an unlimited source of salt, and even a well-equipped attic) in retrospect a little too convenient for ???island??? Fort Repose. But I let that pass because I respect and care so much for Frank???s characters as they are pushed to their limits to find ways to survive physically and emotionally, and the main thrust of his novel is to test his characters to see which ones will survive with humanity intact and which will not.

    I like Frank???s attempt at a progressive vision of race (for its time and southern setting), but George Stewart???s earlier novel Earth Abides (1949) may be more radical in that respect. In general, Earth Abides is more philosophical, cyclical, beautiful, and moving than Alas, Babylon, which is more political, tactical, exciting, and martial. Alas, Babylon is an anti-nuclear war novel that nevertheless valorizes the heroic American male soldier/leader.

    Will Patton???s reading of the novel is fine; his voice is appropriately manly and dry with undercurrents of emotion that bring the story to life.

    25 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 12-30-10
    Brian ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 12-30-10 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

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    "The possibilities of survival - 1959 -- Today?"

    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?

    16 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 12-15-13
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 12-15-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Sets the standard for the genre - period."

    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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer The Tropics 01-05-11
    Kindle Customer The Tropics 01-05-11 Member Since 2015

    Linda P-C

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    "Loved it, wished there were more of it"

    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.

    12 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 03-05-13
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 03-05-13 Member Since 2013

    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.

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    "You think this couldn't happen? Think Again"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 02-24-12
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 02-24-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Dated, lightweight story of nuclear war aftermath"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Chicago, IL, United States 05-02-11
    Michael Chicago, IL, United States 05-02-11
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    "Timeless"

    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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marla Lakewood, CA, United States 01-21-11
    Marla Lakewood, CA, United States 01-21-11
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    "Very Good Listen"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Washington, DC, United States 10-21-11
    Catherine Washington, DC, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2005
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    "a good listen"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Woo Space Coast FL 03-06-11
    Dr Woo Space Coast FL 03-06-11 Member Since 2007

    W H

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    "Excellent Book / Excellent Presentation !"

    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!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Tony Barker
    Lydiate england
    3/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant and believable"
    Where does Alas, Babylon rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This ranks very highly. I came across this book as a recommendation having read One Second After and I was not disappointed. It was intelligent and thought provoking without being over sensationalized. It depicts ordinary people who have experienced an extraordinary event.


    What other book might you compare Alas, Babylon to, and why?

    One second after


    Have you listened to any of Will Patton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No but will look for others


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Small town America overcomes man made disaster


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent read

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Martin
    Inerness, United Kingdom
    11/25/13
    Overall
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    "Classic... Nuclear War 1950s setting."

    Very enjoyable because it is set and was written in 1950s America, rather than coming across as dated it was more like historical fiction which I enjoyed a lot. For a post apocalyptic story it is not at all as grim and gory as a modern book would be - cannibalism, slavery and the other usual depravity and gore that you expect in a more modern post apocalypse story! These things are maybe hinted at rather than really appearing in the story, apart from the odd bad guy most people are pretty decent and most behave in a relatively civilised manner. It is strangely almost a positive story, I wouldn't be too concerned about letting a younger reader / listener have this book. I have read reviews elsewhere that described it as having some racist and sexist elements to it - which there of course are going to be, it is set in Florida and was written in 1950s America! It is not as realistic in many as a more modern book would be, but I personally forgive that as it was a very enjoyable listen with interesting characters and settings. If you can credit the book for being written in more innocent times in terms of what would be acceptable amounts of horror and gore (there really is none) and enjoy it as an innocent predecessor of the modern post apocalypse book, it is very well worth a listen and very enjoyable. - I love the game Fallout 3 which has loads of 1950s styling and a post nuclear war setting, so this may have clouded my judgement a bit but I enjoyed the listen a lot.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Clem
    LIMERICK, Ireland
    7/27/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Amazing Journey into Armageddon"
    If you could sum up Alas, Babylon in three words, what would they be?

    Couldn't stop listening!


    Which character – as performed by Will Patton – was your favourite?

    The central character 'Randy' was very interesting. A reluctant hero.


    Any additional comments?

    This was just a great story. I was surprised that it was written way back in the 50's. It is so relevant to today. Great characters. Great story. Definately a must listen audio book. Will Patton speaks with a very understated passion that really sucks you into this world.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Margaret
    2/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great!"

    Great story and narration. Hearing parts of it gave me chills. An enjoyable and engrossing listen. I would recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • alexander
    Dublin 12, Ireland
    1/19/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thought provoking"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Alas, Babylon to be better than the print version?

    Yes, thanks mainly to the narrator. I found that I was hungry for the the next chapter to be read to me while I was driving, in fact I was sitting in my car listening as the story had captivated me. A paperback would still be in one of my jacket pockets in a wardrobe somewhere.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The well crafted characters. I could almost hear the river passing through the story.


    Have you listened to any of Will Patton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Not knowingly, but he was good. One was not conscious of his breathing, his tempo was steady all the way through.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Nature or Nurture. Discover the true American hero.


    Any additional comments?

    It is a pity that the author has not written anything else, Pat Frank really knows how to breath life into his well defined characters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dominic
    1/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic book"

    50 years old but still could be written yesterday
    Give it a go. Post apocalyptic without the modern twist. Yes

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    London, United Kingdom
    8/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "stands the test of time"

    I grew up in the shadow of the A bomb and the threat of the nuclear apocalypse but was too young to read this book when it first came out. I have been immersed in the story and the characters. Though I hope that the chances of all out nuclear war are now a thing of the past, the chance of a post apocalyptic world resulting from climate change remain very real and so the subject matter remains relevant for our current time. Well worth a read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Keith S. Mason
    Bournemouth, UK
    5/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The aftermath of 1950's nuclear war"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Alas, Babylon to be better than the print version?

    I think so often I find the reader can detract from an otherwise good story but Will Patton's voice brings the characters to life in a tone that fits right in with the setting of the story. Its measured pace lets the story roll out in front of you and is a real pleasure to listen to.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    UK
    1/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A compelling listening experience"

    Once again I am glad I didn't read any reviews or even the publisher's summary before embarking on Alas, Babylon. I find it so much more enjoyable not having any clue as to how the story might unfold, and how bleak or optimistic its outlook will be.

    I'd class this as a quick and easy listen. As an inadvertent follow-on from Neville Shute's On the Beach, it reinforced the risk of our utter dependency on electricity and on our supply-chain for food and fuel. It is the first fiction that also made me consider the value of military training and experience.

    For me, one of the main weaknesses of the book was the characterisation. The characters each fall so clearly into the Good Guy or Bad Guy camp. Perhaps because of this, or maybe just from the writing style, I felt no empathy for any of the people. They were interesting to me, definitely, but I never felt an emotional bond with any of them.

    That said, the audiobook made compelling listening and the tale gives a great sense of the values and concerns of the late 1950s in the USA. The narration enhanced the book for me; it seemed just right. Overall, I would definitely say I enjoyed Alas, Babylon and despite its weaknesses I would recommend it to others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    Glasgow, United Kingdom
    8/25/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Alas, there isn't more like it."

    It's a great listen, of course it's easier when it's a great story. A good yarn, well written, well narrated and quite frankly, all too real in it's fictional deliberations. The way things are heating up in the Middle East, perhaps we should read this more than once!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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