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.
"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)
I chose this title because I so enjoyed another book read by Will Patton. Again, he effortlessly brings life to a wide range of characters in this story of nuclear holocaust aftermath. Written over 50 years ago it feels as if it could have been last week as the results would be the same. With all our technology we are still dependent on the good will of each other in the end. How people survive or don't in the face of enormous challenge is told through the story of the Bragg family. I came to care for 13 year old Ben Franklin as well as his Uncle Randy and many other residents of the ironically named Fort Repose, Florida. Human nature is explored in all it's ugliness and resilience. Racial divides collapse as skills trump color in an emergency. A satisfying read, I mean "listen", on many levels. Chilling and yet heartening.
I did not write a review when I finished the book but a year or two later, it is still memorable - so many books blur a week or so later. Fascinating story with so many layers.... reality of nuclear devastation, learning to live again on bare minimum of resources (even more dramatic today than in 1950s setting of the novel), relationships of the various characters....Definitely worth listening to - different yet engrossing. See also, Will Patton below.
Will Patton is one of the best Audible readers ... dramatic but not overstated... a great story teller. There are certain "Audible" reads where I just feel the listening experience is better than if I had read the book, and this is one of them. Will Patton definitely contributes to that assessment. (FYI - some other better than reading - And There Eyes Were Watching God, White Tiger, Somebody Knows My Name).
It is hard for me to rank any book, but I definitely would rate this as one near the top of my list. While it was written years ago, the reactions of the characters still are valid for our times, provoking thought and introspection. But what really made it enjoyable was the narrator.
I enjoyed watching the growth of the main characters juxtaposed with the descent into base animalistic living of others.
I can't single out one character, but rather want to say Patton has one of the most pleasant, engaging voices of all the narrators I have listened too. I will be looking for other books just to hear his presentation.
When the little girl discovered the hidden room, and music came back into their lives, was one of my favoirte moments. She became the hero she wanted to be just by being curious little girl.
This book also struck a chord for me as I grew up near Omaha and the other bases and missile silos in the area. The reality of living near a definite target area helped me begin to fight the fog of addiction and draw closer to a Higher Power, which eventually became God.
Yes, it has some thought provoking themes and the narration is excellent.
I've only seen him in films. I didn't realize that he was such an excellent storyteller.
This is my mother's favorite book. I had never read it, and so didn't fully understand the attraction. I'm a speculative fiction fan, but the story didn't sound very exciting at first glance. I have to say, that this book is enthralling. It also causes you to ask yourself many questions, some of which include: What qualities are important in a person? What skills do I really have? Could I survive? Also, Will Patton's storytelling ability is first rate.
This is a classic story. The events leading up to the day are a bit dated but afterwards it could easily be in our present time. Great character development and narration. Perfect length for our road trip.
I very much enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction (especially the type without zombies or aliens!). Although written more than 50 years ago, the book portrays a realistic scenario of might happen today in the event of nuclear war -- except that contemporary humans would be even less likely to survive and adapt, because of our even greater reliance on technology and electricity. I'm certainly thinking about beefing up my family's emergency supplies after listening to this book. Makes me want to buy a set of encylopedia and a couple hundred pounds of salt. The narrator does an excellent job.
Gives good insight on what would be important in a distaster. I was pleasantly surprised that this book was written in the 50's - it didn't matter a bit. The needs of the characters would be the same in any decade.
The wonderful character and scene descriptions reminiscent of James Lee Burke
There is no one quite like Will to bring the narrative alive
Chillingly realistic. Having grown up "under the mushroom cloud" backdrop of the cold war, this was really possible.
Too bad Mr. Frank has passed away. I would have loved more from him.
Perhaps this book resonates a little more deeply with those of us in the generation that learned to duck and cover in school, but I found this book to be tremendously satisfying. If the bombs had dropped, this is how I would have wanted it to be. Death and destruction are inevitable, but deliverance is won inch by inch through human endeavor, courage, ingenuity, and compassion.
No idea. I don't like to read. I am a good listener.
The story was based on an actual city in my home state of Florida, Mount Dora. I enjoyed the remarks of the time concerning Miami and local happennings. I also learned how Orlando International Airport has the code of MCO.
The main character.
No. I love end-of-times movies. I did laugh about the remarks about Miami and how bad the traffic was in Orlando, back in the 50s. (You should see how bad traffic is now in Orlando!)
Good listen. I enjoyed "reading" this classic.
"Brilliant and believable"
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.
One second after
No but will look for others
Small town America overcomes man made disaster
"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.
"Amazing Journey into Armageddon"
Couldn't stop listening!
The central character 'Randy' was very interesting. A reluctant hero.
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.
Great story and narration. Hearing parts of it gave me chills. An enjoyable and engrossing listen. I would recommend it.
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.
The well crafted characters. I could almost hear the river passing through the story.
Not knowingly, but he was good. One was not conscious of his breathing, his tempo was steady all the way through.
Nature or Nurture. Discover the true American hero.
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.
50 years old but still could be written yesterday
Give it a go. Post apocalyptic without the modern twist. Yes
"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.
"The aftermath of 1950's nuclear war"
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.
"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.
"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!
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