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 hate to speak disparagingly about writers because, as someone who wants to be one myself, I understand the blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing a single sentence of good prose. The WRITING was excellent. The story and the pacing, however, just didn't work for me. Far too slow and I couldn't really understand the greater picture. I love anything post-apocalyptic but I don't know... this just dragged and didn't work for me. At all. The writing was really delicious, though.
I hate this question.
Helen, probably... she was useless and annoying.
The voice narration was very well done. The story was good, if a bit exagerated and naive in places.
I would loosley compare it to The Earth Abides in that they're both post-apocalypse fiction and deal with the troubles of rebuilding a community of sorts. In Alas Babylon, they're quite a bit more restricted in movement due to the radioactive areas around them. Other than that, they both deal with having to make do without modern conveniences, though they do try to continue on with them as long as possible. Both books mildly address a return to primitive ways.
I haven't listened to any of his other performances, but I did like this one quite a bit. He did a very good job developing voices for the various characters in the story and it was easy to keep track of who was who for the most part. Female characters are always a problem for male narrators and this performance suffered in that regard also.
A classic post-apocalyptic tale with a very solid voice performance. I would highly recomend this.
Never heard of the book before 2014.
Very well written book and even better performance by Patton.
I look forward to hearing more books narrated by Patton.
Pleasantly surprised by a book I probably should have known about but never have heard of.
I picked this book because it was one that was in the highly recommended list (I wouldn't normally do this, but decided to try something different). I sort of wish I hadn't done that.
On the postive side, it was very well-narrated, which is always a big deal with me, and a theme in all of my reviews. As such, the story was compelling and kept moving you along.
I won't go into a synopsis of the story, as this can be found in many other reviews, but I personally found the ending a bit predictable. This conclusion is probably a result of the passage of time - when it was first published, I'm sure this book was ground-breaking and considered in a class of its own. However, since its initial publication, time and technology and brilliant story-telling has seen swathes of similar, or better, stories based on the main theme - a disaster befalls the world and a few have to survive. I guess I've been exposed to some of these, wittingly or not - and so as a child of the modern age and modern entertainment, Alas, Babylon left me feeling, "Alas, Ending" for it's all too easy predictability (And no, I'm not going to tell you how it ends...)
Still, I'm sure it was a masterpiece of its time and many will enjoy it now if for only this reason ("it was written then, and could still apply now!") which is why I guess people still love it so much. I just blame my birthplace in history for my failure to find a satisfying conclusion.
This was one of the listens where for me the narrator made the book for me.
All of it. He is amazing.
A little out of date as the story was written in 1959. Still, it likely portrayed a realistic picture of a US A-bombed by the Russians.
A well crafted story is a portal to another world
Yes, in the sense that I got the chance to understand why I didnt like the book.
Probably not. The book had a distinct patronizing attitude towards women which was the main reason I stopped listening. I was not sure if that was because of the book's setting, time and place or if it was the author. In the end it didn't matter, because I wasn't able to connect with the characters as a result.
gruff, potboiled, military
Normally, I really like a good dystopian novel, but as I said before, I couldn't connect with the characters, especially the women, who had no depth and felt like a sexist man's view of women rather than people
From Wikipedia: Alas Babylon is a 1959 novel by by Pat Frank (the pen name of Harry Hart Frank). It was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and remains popular 55 years after it was first published, consistently ranking in Amazon.com's Top 20 Science Fiction Short Stories.
I purchased Alas, Babylon as a result of an Audible Daily Deal. The audible version is approximately 12 hours of listening, read by Will Patton, so I wouldn’t exactly call it a 'short story' . Obviously, an old classic is terrific fodder for a new audio production in that Alas, Babylon is a 2012 Audie Award Winner. Will Patton does a great job. I wish they’d do more of this with classic literature. Possibly start out with audio versions of all Pulitzer Prize winners? Advise & Consent would be awesome in audiobook format.
At any rate, this story is one of survival, loss, triumph, death, and re-birth amidst, and post nuclear war. This nuclear war lasts one single day, a day the characters refer to as simply, The Day. A small town in Florida learns to do without pretty much everything and begin living in a post The Day world. Completely cut off from the rest of civilization, the town has no idea what has happened, if or not the United States has ‘won’ the war, the global implications, and to what degree the human race will move forward. Considering when this book was written, 1959, and 2014 headlines of today, I’m sorry to say the pulse of world politics has not changed. Alas, Babylon is a vision of world-wide holocaust brought about by the nuclear age that has been a real threat since WWII. The countries involved are the same, i.e., Russia, Syria, the middle east.
The only difference from today is that in 1959 there were no cell-phones. Eerie.Well worth a listen.
When I started this book, I had no idea that it was published in 1959. I say that, because while I found much of the book interesting and fun in a post-apocalyptic way, something about it struck me as naive. The characters were doing things that seemed unsophisticated. I couldn't tell if the author wasn't talented or if he was deliberately trying to portray the innocence of the decade. Once I googled the book and saw when it was published, it all snapped into place for me - it was written from a place of innocence. (As an example, the main character - who was otherwise sharp, capable and military trained - hadn't thought about their need for water when preparing his emergency kit. That's something that pretty much any US citizen today thinks of even in the case of temporary power outages.)
While details like that were distracting, the overall concept was fun to explore. The book is strongest in its first half. Once they settle into post-war life, it loses steam a bit. That said, the author did a great job creatively imagining a world in the wake of nuclear war. If you're a fan of this genre, it's probably worth adding to your shelf.
"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.
"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
"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.
"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.
"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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