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.
"[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)
This book is a "what if" nightmare but told in a very non-threatening way. Many doomsday books have an aura of scariness or horror as a backdrop. This book does not. It's a character and community study of what would happen to Society if all of our gadgets suddenly went off.
The story is one that is not only worth reading because it is so well-written and narrated, but because the idea of an electromagnetic pulse as a weapon is not really science fiction -- it's a real possibility. The lead character is a widowed father of two girls, retired military, living in a small Southern town and teaching at a local college. The point of view, although not first person, is through his eyes and his emotions. The human emotions and fear felt by the townspeople and others is real but not the star feature of the novel. Instead, the novel is in some ways a practical survival guide; how would food be organized, how would a town deal with non-townspeople, how would our old and our sick survive (or not). Despite the practicality aspects of the storytelling, the flow of the novel never fails to invite the reader (listener) to care about the people.
This is not a "how to survive the zombie apocalypse" guide -- far from it. It's a story about people, dealing with day-to-day details of a lifestyle that they never expected and for which they are unprepared. There is sadness and joy. Mostly, there is a real story to be told.
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).
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.
After 9/11 Americans have been made aware of the many different ways the United States could be attacked and how these attacks could disrupt our way of life. One Second After describes in chilling detail how one such method could be carried out and how in a blink of an eye our way life, culture and nation would change forever. What makes this book so frightening is how easy it would be for such an attack to occur and what the result would mean for my family's future. It is simply too scary to think about!
An eye opening, "page turner" listen about what could happen if Americans had to survive long term without electricity or technology, the impacts to our society and the horrible choices that might have to be made. It also illustrates the current vulnerability of our electrical grid and technology to electro magnetic pulse weapons.
It can be a real downer so I wouldn't recommend it if you are in a vulnerable place in your life.
At the end I wanted to run out and buy a pre-1980s car, build a home underground, buy a generator, and store away enough supplies for 5 years. Logic prevailed and I called my Senator/Congressman and asked them if they understood how vulnerable we are. If enough Americans start asking the question - we may collectively address the risk before it is too late. Although I wouldn't argue against buying extra canned food, fuel, bottled water and storing it away. If someone offered me a great deal on a pre-1980s Volvo 240................
This book has left me haunted by the possibility that this could really happen to us and will leave you wondering how you would fare. I disagree with many of the previous reviews and think this is a must read. The narrator does a brilliant job with the different characters. In fact, there wasn't anything I didn't like about this book. Get it.
One second after is a very well written, albeit from a military standpoint, story of a very possible scenario if the USA were to be struck with an EMP attack. The story is wonderful, and hits very close to home. It really does make you think. And unlike numerous sci-fi stories I try to listen to, the narrator does a wonderful job. Way to go, Forstchen and Barrett!
Author of Stitch Alchemy
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.
The reader did a great job with a terrible script.
Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!
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.
I have literally lost count of how many titles I have purchased on audible. In all of those-this is my first review.
This story was incredible...poignant, heart-breaking, and shocking. All that took place in this book hit home so hard because deep down you know that it could possibly happen.
I cried when they suffered, smiled with them, and cheered when they triumphed over daunting challenges. I highly recommend this title...All in all-A Profoundly Moving 'What If' Story. It would be awesome to have a sequel!!
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