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One Second After Audiobook

One Second After

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Publisher's Summary

In a small North Carolina town, one man struggles to save his family after America loses a war that will send it back to the Dark Ages.

Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States, literally within one second.

This book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future and our end.

©2009 William R. Forstchen; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[An] entertaining apocalyptic thriller....fans of such classics as Alas, Babylon and On the Beach will have a good time as Forstchen tackles the obvious and some not-so-obvious questions the apocalypse tends to raise." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (10592 )
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  •  
    Sara 11-06-13
    Sara 11-06-13

    Say something about yourself!

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    "A terrifying story"
    Any additional comments?

    This story was harrowing. I downloaded it as the daily deal and was just checking to make sure the down load worked correctly when I found myself hooked. I listened to the whole book in a matter of days putting aside the book I was currently reading. The narrator did a great job but the story itself captured a sense of truth that made it seem terrifyingly possible. On a personal note, having survived a six day power outage with no water and no where to go after a hurricane and earthquake and flooding several years ago, the reactions of the characters rang true. The deadly aftermath of the EMP attack really made me think about being prepared for disasters in future. Thought provoking. Be warned --considerable graphic violence. Disturbing.

    61 of 69 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Spooner Loveland, OH 07-25-09
    Andy Spooner Loveland, OH 07-25-09 Member Since 2006
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    "A page-turner, no doubt, but..."

    The preaching about the dangers of relying on technology gets a little old. If it had been straight-up post-apocalyptic thriller, it would have been fine; throwing in a couple of comments about how dependent we had been on technology would have been OK, too, but the book really beats it into you. Still, I could hardly turn the audio off on this one. If you are interested in similar themes (minus the preaching), try Lucifer's Hammer (huge meteorite) or The Stand (flu pandemic).

    157 of 185 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Matthews, NC 09-20-15
    Wayne Matthews, NC 09-20-15 Member Since 2016

    I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!

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    "Superb Post-Apocalyptic EMP Novel"

    Post-Apocalyptic novels, especially in the teen genre, seem the rage of the day. One Second After is not a teen book. It is about the potential damage wrought a real modern weapon called Electromagnetic Pulse or EMP. EMP is a nuclear weapon exploded in the atmosphere which would likely fry/disable virtually all electrical and electronic devices including the electrical grid, cell and land line phones services, and computers over a wide area, an area potentially as wide as most of the United States excluding only Hawaii andand parts of Alaska. The potential for such an attack is real and the results would be catastrophic. There are expensive technologies to harden electronics against EMP attack, but in the US only some military devices have been hardened.

    This book is set in western North Carolina is very much about local impact of an EMP attack, but the locale would be typical of what is happening across the country. The athor has very recently released the second book in the series titled One Year After.

    One Second After is an important book that helped to increase the attention of the executive and legislative branches of the US government to the risk of EMP weapons and the need for better preparation. It is a must read novel!

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rob 10-12-09
    Rob 10-12-09
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    "An excellent listen!"

    I really enjoyed this book!! I am very interested in history, anthropology, geopolitics and other topics. Because of my broad interests, I found this book compelling on several levels.

    Too many people are getting uptight as they are strangled by their varied perspectives to evaluate this book fairly. The fact is that it is not only plausible, it could happen today. The time line laid out was both scary and fascinating.

    I found the writing, narration, technical accuracy and of this novel to be excellent. Also, as a former infantry officer I can say the author has an impressive understanding of land warfare.

    Happy driving!!

    51 of 66 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaye 10-22-13
    Jaye 10-22-13
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    "Bummer--I should have listened to the reviews"
    Any additional comments?

    I should have listened to the reviews--if I had, I wouldn't have tried to listen to this book. The reader is fine, no problem, but... the story? I love dystopian 'end of the world' stories, whether the 'end' is via zombies, flu, nukes, whatever. I enjoy reading and thinking about how one copes with harsh new environments, trying to survive. But this book is not... that. This is a tedius, finger-wagging LECTURE, period. The protagonist is a professor (surprise, surprise!), everyone around him, after the EMP hits and destroys the U.S., endlessly asks him 'what's it all mean? And, 'what's it all about', and the professor LECTURES them (and us, alas) ad infinitum, boringly and endlessly, about our reliance on technology, til you could just keel over and die of boredom. The book pretends to have an actual story--the professor has two daughters, one of whom is diabetic, and of course, medicine is an immediate emergency, but to me anyway, the actual 'story' is thin and fake. The book is simply an excuse--an excuse for the author to lecture (endlessly!) about mankind's reliance on technology. Boring and annoying--trust me, don''t waste a credit.

    37 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 07-18-16
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 07-18-16 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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    "Heavy, Realistic, Frightening: LISTEN UP"

    As the wife and mother of soldiers, I can't help but get angry that our country doesn't prepare for the likelihood of an attack by Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) . . . our all-too-politically-correct legislators and politicians in Washington DC are always ready to lend a hand to refugees oversees (including letting them in the US), fund another social program, or send the president on another vacation. I am sick and tired of the playing in the White House and the Senate and House putting up with it. My husband, a retired Sergeant Major, knew all about EMP . . . but I didn't . . . and the two of us listened to this book while traveling in the car to our son's house . . . he's an active duty soldier at Fort Bragg . . . Our dependence on all of today's conveniences, medicines, electronics is frightening . . . and I am the world's worst . . . I get up, get my coffee, and get on line . . . BUT I was also raised in the sticks of Kentucky . . . on the river, fishing, shooting, farming . . . I'm made out of tough stuff . . . and so is the old bird I'm married to . . . y'all, it is HIGH time we put a boot up the rear end of those representing us . . . I'm moving on to the second in this series . . . good job, William Forstchen

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 04-25-13
    Charles Atkinson Greensboro, NC, United States 04-25-13 Member Since 2015

    Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?

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    "Riveting and way to realistic to ignore!m"

    After listening to this book I did some research and found the threats represented in the story are not only credible but probable. At least now we have been warned!

    The narration is excellent, he nails the southern accents of North Carolina and small town NC as well.

    The story is riveting, gut wrenching and frightening. It's not a feel good story, but don't let that turn you away. It is an important book to read!

    All throughout the adventure I tried to imagine how I would act under the circumstances laid out by Fortschen. Perhaps this is why I am so moved by his work. I'd love to think I'd survive, but I simply can't imagine that would be the case.

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cidney New Orleans, United States Minor Outlying Islands 07-05-12
    Cidney New Orleans, United States Minor Outlying Islands 07-05-12 Member Since 2012

    Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!

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    "A Civil War Re-enactor Saves a Community?"

    I think not!

    But I get it. This is meant to be a cautionary, worst case scenario tale against doing nothing to prepare against an EMP event. If that was the goal, then I think it could have been better handled as a satire, (A Modest Proposal) because Forstchen’s portraiture of America and Americans didn’t ring true for me.

    In under a week the protagonist, John, is publicly executing looters. In less than 20 days this small town representation of America has turned into a “show me your papers, please,” East Germany, and in less than two months the author has us devolving into cannibalism. Not unlikely events, to be sure, but on that timeframe when all the buildings are still habitable, roads passable (with the dead cars out of the way), potable water and fertile land? Bear in mind, there’s been no direct nuclear devastation, no pandemic, no major natural disaster – no zombies or aliens. Power is out, communications are down and transportation is limited.

    In trying to paint this bleak picture of America, Forstchen neglects one of the ingredients that makes America, America: imagination. If we lost the use of our cars, and cell phones, and computers, and drugs we would be annoyed and frustrated – and scared, but we wouldn’t become helpless to the point of cannibalism in less than 60 days! Not our DIY, “think globally, buy locally,” live off the grid, alternative fuel, ride your bike to work day society!

    Throughout the story, too many times I caught myself thinking things like, “wait a second! You mean to tell me that a small community outside of progressive Asheville doesn’t have a co-op run organic farm or a community garden? It has horses but no mounted police? No farriers? No yuppie urbanites with $3000 dollar bicycles to form a courier system or bicycle brigade? Really?”

    This is a town made up of chain smoking college professors and ex-military, Cold War military. There appear to be no artisans, blacksmiths or gunsmiths... or carpenters, electricians, or plumbers. The youth at the local college are particularly useless and only good for training as militia. Where are the nerds – the engineers, the techno and auto geeks who would view the lack of electricity and functioning circuitry as a challenge? There are Civil War re-enactors, but no Native American folk-life demonstrators, or traditional life-ways practitioners? There are “survivalist-types,” but none with a stockpile of MREs? Really? And no one, except for the campus security guard, demonstrates any real individual leadership, not even our protagonist. He gets placed into leadership positions through circumstance.

    In the best post-apocalyptic, dystopian future novels (think Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Atwood’s A Handmaiden’s Tale, Orwell’s 1984 or King’s The Stand) the “bad thing” happens before the story and the story is about how the indomitable human spirit overcomes. In the end, One Second After is a cautionary tale against homogeneity and the loss of imagination – killers of our human spirit, for without that, whether we face a super flu epidemic, an EMP strike or the zombie apocalypse, our society is lost.

    231 of 309 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelli Perkins Michigan 08-31-12
    Kelli Perkins Michigan 08-31-12 Member Since 2015

    Author of Stitch Alchemy

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    "Like a TV Movie of the Week"
    What disappointed you about One Second After?

    The writing was depressingly shallow and none of the characters reacted as they should. Although the main character is a Colonel in the military, he is constantly shocked and surprised by the way people are reacting to what appears to be an apocalyptic emergency. Then, during a mad rush for supplies, he takes time out to explain everything from the history of EMP's to which countries have been working on strategic weapons, to a bunch of townspeople who have apparently been hiding under a rock. If the town were populated by ten year olds, I expect they'd be more educated. It is unfortunate when a novelist has to cram his entire back story into a pedantic monologue at the feet of fools.

    Surprisingly (or not surprisingly if this were a TV movie of the week which had to wrap up in 2 hours), despite heavy looting our hero is able to find just the thing he needs, untrampled and hidden all the way in the back where no other person has managed to find it.. The last bags of ice, the last candy bars, the last cans of Ensure. This guy's incredibly lucky! The rest of the town is not very persistent in their quest for survival, so they keep leaving the last of everything for him!

    For a great post-apocalyptic book which is as fresh as the day it was written, try "Alas Babylon" by Pat Frank, and don't waste your money on this badly put together junk. I don't bother writing bad reviews, but I'm so disappointed that I spent money on this and I'm done assaulting my ears, so into the trash bin it goes.


    Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The reader did a great job with a terrible script.


    156 of 222 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W G Lynwood, WA, Australia 07-09-09
    W G Lynwood, WA, Australia 07-09-09
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    "Amazing"

    This was an amazing book. I was aware of the threat of EMP's before reading this book, but after reading this book it makes that already known threat seem even more plausible. The concept can make for a very interesting conversation with a friend. The narration felt as if he was really in the situation. Great book and easy to follow.

    41 of 58 people found this review helpful
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  • Wzl
    East London, South Africa
    12/1/13
    Overall
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    "Thought Provoking"

    An excellent book which I have recommended to many friends. The manner in which modern life rapidly collapses is thought provoking to say the least!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. M. S. Hazell
    Gloucester, UK
    10/24/10
    Overall
    "This should be a wake up call to everyone."

    Think of everything in life your that runs on electricity or that has an electronic circuit of any kind from home appliances to hospital equipment to vehicles. everything in our lives now depends upon something with a circuit. NOW THINK WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF WE LOSE EVERYTHING WE DEPEND ON.

    This novel is what the above scenario is about. This novel is nothing short of a wake up to call to everyone, government's especially, as to what would happen in the event of a terrorist (or rogue state) using Electro-Magnetic Pulse as a weapon. EMP IS NOT Science Fiction. It is real and has been proven. But no country is prepared.

    This novel revolves around a small mountain town in Carolina, which is cut off, like all other towns and cities, when a nuclear device is set off at high altitude over the USA destroying everything electronic throughout the north american continent. It is the story of how the town has only itself and it's limited resources to rely on. How the town suffers agonising losses and has to make heartbreaking decisions in order to survive. It shows how life without the technology we depend upon will throw us back to the dark ages.

    This is as thought provoking as it is shocking and everyone, from the ordinary man or women to high ranking politicians, should read this.

    This may be a work of fiction but it is a very real possibility.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Little Miss Happy
    London, United Kingdom
    8/7/16
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    "I'm heading down to Tesco ......."
    What did you like most about One Second After?

    I don't know about "Like" - but it was a brilliant book. YES... very Americatastic... but once you get past that - i hate to say it - but this was a book that is horribly close to the truth of what would probably happen in the event of an EMP event. Horribly realistic. FANTASTIC NARRATOR. All i can say is its a good thing that Tesco is open 24/7... i'm picking up some extra cans of beans, vitamins, water, more water, aspirin. Generator anyone?


    What was one of the most memorable moments of One Second After?

    When the main character read the story to his dying daughter.... and then went to kill the last family dog for food for his family....


    What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    His accent so kept it real. Massively conveyed the finality of so many of the decisions they all had to face


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes... massively. had to stop and almost cry in many parts. Horrified by the brutality of humans. The end... so wasn't the end....


    Any additional comments?

    Prepare to be moved but if you don't like abject American patriotism... avoid.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • James
    7/27/16
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    "A frightening possibility"

    I found this book absorbing, it gave a good insight into the more rural culture of America, the pace of life what we here in England might have referred to as village life.
    What was alarming was the speed that all of the nicety was swept aside in the name of survival.
    In the book you had strong leadership and a community for the best part worked together, this however is not mirrored by others and the horrors of war are all to real.
    This is a horrifying tale that is far to close to the true but should be read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    11/4/15
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    "not for atheists"

    If you can ignore the political religious polemic the story is interesting listen. The story at times is a critique of liberal America.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • SnowFox
    10/25/15
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    "Wow. what a fantastic listen."

    this is apocalyptic audio at its very best. well written and utterly believable. closest thing to Earth Abides that I have found. when I have finished this, I will be listening tonight again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • ADW
    10/16/15
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    "A truly moving & terrifying listen."

    A fantast listen but also very moving. utterly depressing and desperate this book paints a world I hope no one ever sees.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J A M
    England
    10/8/15
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    "One-dimensional Republican propaganda"

    I'm American and the level of pro-USA patriotism in this book made me feel embarrassed. I should have guessed the instant I heard the foreward by...ich...Newt Gingrich.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dr. Simon G Bell
    10/6/15
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    "Only in America?"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A real story with depth and breadth of character and narrative.


    What was most disappointing about William R. Forstchen’s story?

    Where to begin? Well, at the beginning. When Newt gets us going with his introduction we should guess a right wing, Republican agenda at work. Sure enough, early on there is a cheap swing at climate change and from then on the book swings into True Grit meets World War Z without the Z .. just insert North Korea or Iran or some such un-American, godless place. The book is risible in the characters of men and women. It is insulting and anti-feminist but not I think misogynist. Well not knowingly anyway. We find ourselves with good old boys who love the country, the flag, God, cars, guns and the way of life and feel constantly the loss of all of this. They can kill people without a pause but get all chocked up over the dog. Infantile children (too old for the role as played surely?) obey, revere and call plaintively to ‘Daddy’. Women husk up to the lunks seeking to ingratiate in the only way a ‘gal can’. Is this a good or accurate or even plausible message? Maybe it is and maybe that is why I managed to get through unlike many other reader/ listeners. I found it an intriguing introduction to a Republican view of apocalypse and the value structure of some Americans .. from the authors point of view of course. I had not gone to this head-space before and it was strange, alien and interesting enough to get me over the awful, gulpy, emotion-dripping delivery of the narrator and the wafer thin plausibility of the character development. If this is the Republican end of the world .. I definitely prefer that of Max Brooks of even J L Bourne but I did find the read interesting.
    In the end I got to the end via gritted teeth and the occasional ripping off of headphones and shouts of "Oh come ON".


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Joe Barrett?

    Not much to offer here. I am not qualified to guide.


    What character would you cut from One Second After?

    Start with John and replace him with a young woman?


    Any additional comments?

    I am rarely moved to write my thoughts in this place, but I wanted to share on this one.
    This is not a totally terrible book but it does try to be.
    Lets be positive. Saving points in no particular order: first, a neat idea of a recoverable apocalypse – well, it is tempting to think it might be. This is a new genre and I found it refreshing. Zombie holocaust, plague more generally or nuclear Armageddon are all ‘the end’. Here we have something a bit more nuanced. Secondly, there is a grueling description of gradual fall - dealing with some of the minutiae of the long descent from the paper-thin veneer of civilization to .. whatever. Thirdly, maybe a sense of a present threat which hides in the light of the everyday. This is a form of apocalypse we don't really have with Zombie/ plague forms of the genre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • C. Murphy
    London, UK
    9/25/15
    Overall
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    "Harrowing and thought provoking."

    I listen to / read many books around the dystopian / post apocalyptic area but this one really touched a nerve with me. I almost listened to it all the way through it caught me that much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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