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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 (5437 )
5 star
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  •  
    Evelyn Claremore, OK, United States 12-28-10
    Evelyn Claremore, OK, United States 12-28-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent listen"

    I was little more than 12 years old when the Berlin Wall fell and the statue of Lenin was pulled from its base in Moscow. In the classroom, I remember our teacher telling us, "Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen, you are watching history." Being little more than 12, it took another ten years for me to fully understand how true that statement was, and to fully appreciate the import of the images on the television screen.

    This story, written during what could be considered the height of the Cold War, breathes fresh life into old paranoias. Few novels have had such an impact on my day to day thinking while I was listening to them; this one has me mentally tallying the foodstuffs and emergency supplies in my house and wondering how I would survive should the unthinkable happen.

    I have listened to a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction since joining Audible five years ago, and have read a lot more. Will Patton's narration hits the high and low points perfectly, improving what is already a great story. I am so glad I saw and purchased 'Alas, Babylon'; it's going to be a repeat listen for sure.

    74 of 78 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Garden Grove, CA, United States 12-27-10
    Lee Garden Grove, CA, United States 12-27-10 Member Since 2009
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    "A griping read!"

    I grabbed this paperback out of my mother's bookshelf as a bored teenager on summer vacation and I've dragged it around with me for over 30 years! Though the characters are a bit simplistic, the story is riveting.

    This story explores what happens when civilization as we know it ceases to exist. How do people survive when there are no safety nets? Decade’s pass and technology marches on, however the story of mankind’s struggle to survive remains pertinent. I actually used this book as a basis for a Sociology paper in college.

    The narrator is very good and the story is every bit as good today as it was in 1959.

    41 of 44 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JerryL 12-26-10
    JerryL 12-26-10 Member Since 2013

    JR

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    "Excellent audiobook"

    It's difficult to believe this book was first published in 1959. The storyline is extremely well thought out, the characters are well defined and very believable.
    The book is full of historically accurate facts that take the reader back to the days of what an earlier generation knew as "Mutually Assured Destruction." This audiobook is well worth the investment of your time and money.

    62 of 67 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen dublin, OH, United States 01-01-11
    Maureen dublin, OH, United States 01-01-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Brilliant, classic, timely, characters to love"

    I hesitated to get this one because it was written in 1959...feared it might be dated, etc. NOT SO! It is amazingly timely and unlike many post-apocyliptic novels it leaves you with a feeling of hope and the desire to do all you can to save our planet and civilization at its best. Hauntingly beautiful descriptions and perfect plot design; I hated to stop the audio and finished it in one weekend. All Americans should know this novel!

    39 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SomervilleWhereElse Somerville, MA 12-25-10
    SomervilleWhereElse Somerville, MA 12-25-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Amazingly contemporary"

    This great work of science fiction was written in a different time and world situation, but it feels as fresh as if it was just created. So much of what happens after the nuclear disaster in the book is just what probably would happen now. I have enjoyed every word. Will Patton is the perfect narrator.

    57 of 62 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noe Edinburg, TX, United States 01-04-11
    Noe Edinburg, TX, United States 01-04-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Outstanding story of post-apocalyse."

    As a fan of post-apocalyptic stories and films, especially those created in the 1950s and 60s, this wonderful novel has long been one of my favorites. Although the story is set in the late 50s, one may view it as alternate history. What if on an alternate timeline, a silly mistake triggered a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia at the height of the Cold War? God knows we actually came very close to it a couple of times in the 60s. This excellent novel tells the tale of a small group of survivors trying to survive in rural Central Florida after the bombs fall. It is exciting, uplifting, and highly recommended. Actor Will Patton, who did a superb job on Kerouac's "The Road," is equally brilliant in this reading. He reads the story with warmth and conviction. An all-around marvelous audiobook, and I commend Audible for producing it.

    26 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G Pocahontas, AR, United States 12-23-10
    G Pocahontas, AR, United States 12-23-10
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    "Excellent 5-star listen"

    I read this story when it was first released and have replaced my copy several times. It has maintained it's relevancy over the years well. With Will Patton reading, it comes alive. Well worth the money and a continual pleasure in any form.

    53 of 59 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-26-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Great characters"

    I really enjoyed this book. I was completely caught up in the lives of the characters after the first few pages. Doesn't really seem dated at all. The narrator was perfect for the time, place and people. Definitely worth a listen.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 01-07-14
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 01-07-14 Member Since 2005

    From Austen to zombies!

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    "One apocalypse--hold the 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.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 02-25-12
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 02-25-12 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More Please"

    I am extremely impatient and when listening to most books even if well written, I am anticipating the end shortly after the half way mark. This was one of those rare occasions, where I was sorry for it to end. This story is well thought out, very plausible, and though written in 1959, very accurate for today. The characters are well developed and interesting and seem true to life.

    I was hesitant to buy this, since it was written in 1959 and it was held to much the same hub bub as Earth Abides by George Stewart. While Earth Abides was alright, it was long and I got impatient with it. Audible had this on sale, so I took the chance. It was well worth full price and now I am interested if Pat Frank's other books are anywhere as good as this.

    The first half is mostly about the events that lead up to war. I believe anyone who likes military books, well enjoy this part especially. The U.S. is tricked into starting the war in an event that was surprising, yet I can see it happening today. The first half ends with the bombs falling, a very scary sight.

    The second half is after the bombs fall and how one town deals with it. The characters are very 1950's, but this adds to the charm of the book.

    Will Patton, the narrator, does an excellent job and adds to the pleasure of listening to the book. I have not read the book, but I got to believe this recording is better then reading the book. In the future if I see, Patton is narrating, it will help me decide to buy that recording.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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