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Alas, Babylon Audiobook

Alas, Babylon

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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

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  •  
    Jefferson 10-18-11
    Jefferson 10-18-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

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    "How We Got Along After the Day???"

    When Randy Bragg, an aimless Korean war vet who has developed a taste for bourbon in his coffee while living in his hometown, Fort Repose, Florida, gets a telegram from his older brother Mark, a Colonel for Strategic Air Command, that closes with ???Alas, Babylon,??? Randy realizes that hydrogen bombs are about to start flying between the USSR and the USA. The rest of Pat Frank???s novel, Alas, Babylon (1959), depicts how Randy and his Fort Repose neighbors survive after ???the Day??? on which the bombs fell. Frank convincingly imagines the geo-politics that could lead to such a war, as well as the social and inter-personal dynamics of survival that would likely follow it.

    Frank???s novel is a post-holocaust communal Robinsoniad, with key things (like an uncontaminated river, an ancestor???s journal, an unlimited source of salt, and even a well-equipped attic) in retrospect a little too convenient for ???island??? Fort Repose. But I let that pass because I respect and care so much for Frank???s characters as they are pushed to their limits to find ways to survive physically and emotionally, and the main thrust of his novel is to test his characters to see which ones will survive with humanity intact and which will not.

    I like Frank???s attempt at a progressive vision of race (for its time and southern setting), but George Stewart???s earlier novel Earth Abides (1949) may be more radical in that respect. In general, Earth Abides is more philosophical, cyclical, beautiful, and moving than Alas, Babylon, which is more political, tactical, exciting, and martial. Alas, Babylon is an anti-nuclear war novel that nevertheless valorizes the heroic American male soldier/leader.

    Will Patton???s reading of the novel is fine; his voice is appropriately manly and dry with undercurrents of emotion that bring the story to life.

    28 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 12-30-10
    Brian ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 12-30-10 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

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    "The possibilities of survival - 1959 -- Today?"

    I really enjoyed the book set in central Florida after a Russian nuke attack. Miami, Tampa, Homestead, Orlando and Jacksonville are all gone and millions more are dead throughout the rest of the country. Is survival possible? The most seemingly, insignificant day-to-day uses such as toothpaste, salt, toiletries, aspirin, etc, become luxuries in this post nuclear war event. Money becomes worthless and the rich and poor are now equals. Could you handle it?

    17 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer The Tropics 01-05-11
    Kindle Customer The Tropics 01-05-11 Member Since 2017

    Linda P-C

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    "Loved it, wished there were more of it"

    This book is well written, well narrated and just very, very interesting. I've read other books on this general topic and some may be more specific in detail, pack more of an anti-nuke sermon, or describe a greater spectrum of the challenges to be faced in an event such as this, but this book was very satisfying and just a darned good read. I believe it's important to keep in mind the fact that the year is 1959 when judging the actions/reactions of the characters, and think the author did a great job with creating the feel of the times. I wish it had been longer, but a sequel would most likely be anticlimactic, and the ending leaves the reader with enough material to spend some idle hours imagining where the folks of this little Florida town will take their lives from here on. Highly recommended.

    12 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Reporter 05-16-17
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    "an old favorite now more relevant"

    I read this book as a youth. It captured my imagination. However now it captures it again. is it possible it is even more relevant?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 05-08-16
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 05-08-16 Member Since 2016

    Rob Thomas

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    "My new favourite post-nuclear apocalypse novel"

    I found this post-nuclear-apocalypse story much more enjoyable than I expected.

    It has likeable (plus some not-so-likeable) characters and puts them in very tight spots. The story describes their growth as people as they face the challenges of life after the big one. In some cases they find their purpose in life.

    [Minor spoilers ahead] At the heart of the book are a group of good people in a bad situation. The main characters are fortunate to be located in a town at the middle of a large un-nuked zone after the Soviets try to win World War III by starting it and getting the jump on the free world. They must find ways to survive day-to-day without descending into barbarism.

    I found it hard to believe this was written in 1959 since it struck me as better than similar books I seem to recall which were published much later.

    I highly recommend this book. It’s a relatively simple, but satisfyingly believable read -- my favourite kind. It paints an accurate picture of the nightmares we lived with during the cold war. And the narration is excellent.

    Plus, it’s got that great title.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Investowiz 10-05-14
    Investowiz 10-05-14 Member Since 2017

    Investowiz

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    "Chilling Story"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Realistic


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Clay Grove Northern VIRGINIA, United States 06-11-13
    Mark Clay Grove Northern VIRGINIA, United States 06-11-13 Member Since 2013

    Mark C. Grove

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    "A powerful story delivered flawlessly."
    Where does Alas, Babylon rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Ranks above the top of the top in my view, and I not only read voraciously EVERYTHING, but I am also a writer. Pat Frank nailed this better than Nevil Shute's, On the Beach.. This is gut-wrenching story that I read as a boy in the 1960s when it was in paperback. Nowadays a signed first in hardcover can be well over a thousand dollars. I looked it up in Audible, and when I saw Will Patton was the actor, well, that clenched it for me. I had to get this audiobook.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The protagonist, Bragg. He was realistic and heroic.


    What does Will Patton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His acting acumen. My god, his range is huge! He must have voices in his head, or something, to be able to do all of the different characters and still keep them sorted. I wish he'd do my book!


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Mordechai died.


    Any additional comments?

    I see that Mr. Patton also does voice overs for James Lee Burke. ... Now I know HOW I am going to go broke.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-09-13
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-09-13

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "Apocalyptic story with no Zombies!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Alas, Babylon to be better than the print version?

    Will Patton's voice makes this the only way to go for this book. He has the right nuances and cadences to each of the wonderful characters in this book of a Southern Apocalypse. I don't believe just reading the book would do it justice.


    What other book might you compare Alas, Babylon to and why?

    Earth Abides comes to mind because I listened to that a few years ago. They both tell the stories of survivors of an earth ending event. I liked Alas, Babylon better, only because I thought it was a little more reasonable than Earth Abides, but EA does take place over decades while Alas, Babylon is only a few months. Both are wonderful stories!


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

    Will Patton is one of my favorite narrators, I find myself searching for more books he has done. I think my next one of his will be Deliverance. He never lets you down.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I think when Helen makes a pass at Randy and he doesn't know how to handle it, but Lib does and explains to him what is going on in Helen's head. I liked the way it was handled with dignity and strength.


    Any additional comments?

    This story was written in 1959 so the story could come off as a little dated, but then I look at the world today with North Korea and Iran desperately trying to show themselves as nuclear powers and I think how pertinent this story still is. Take the time to listen to this gem.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Old Pueblo 02-27-13
    Old Pueblo 02-27-13

    Nancy

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    "WOW! WOW! WOW!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'd recommend this book to a friend of either sex. The story enrobes you and carries you inside its pocket. You can't get out, even after you've stopped listening for the day, and then it will stay with you long after the story ends.


    What about Will Patton’s performance did you like?

    I've listened to many audiobbooks narrated by Will Patton - if he's reading, I just know I'll enjoy the book. But this time...he simply nails it, and it sucks you in - it feels like he IS the character he's speaking for. Even the women in the story sound realistic and don't distract. That's a very hard thing to pull off, in my experience with audiobooks.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The story is such a personal one to any of us growing up in the 50's and 60's - Nuclear War's entry into our innocent minds and lives, and the scare that just the possibility of a nuclear bomb's potential put into all of us. It took me right back to that time; worried about who would launch the first bombs and where they would land...the devastation they could cause, the millions of people they could kill - and the impact something like this would have on all of us. Would we even survive it?


    Any additional comments?

    Please listen to this - you will not regret it. This one's the total package - beautiful, thoughtful writing, believable characters and story development - and an unforgettable performance by Will Patton. It just doesn't get any better.

    1 of 1 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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    "Doesn't Seem Possible that This Is 1959!"
    What did you love best about Alas, Babylon?

    I was resistant to trying this title because I always pick up on outdated technologies in a book and they don't ring true. I needn't have worried. This book is stunning and never for one second did I even realize that this wasn't present day America. Frank sticks to human nature as he explores a post-apocalyptic future, and human nature is the same generation to generation.


    What other book might you compare Alas, Babylon to and why?

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy is another view of a civilization gone awry, but with a different conclusion. Frank's account relies on the strength of human goodness to build a brighter outcome. We don't known which vision will ultimately be more realistic until the time comes.


    What does Will Patton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I loved the narration of this book. Will Patton's everyman style of delivery was a perfect fit for the setting--small town USA. The characters came alive.


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

    I felt deeply for the characters and looked forward to a conclusion which would bring them some relief from the unknown.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm still impressed that I read this fifty years after it was written and it was as fresh and insightful as if it had been written yesterday. That's the best compliment I can give an author. A timeless work of fiction that will leave you thinking about the past and the future and what your reaction would be to a similar emergency. A hopeful read.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
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  • Matt Watson-Power
    Harrogate, United Kingdom
    5/3/13
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    "Amazing, gripping, so real"

    From the outset I was gripped by this book. A fascinating 'what if' with some very plausible answers. Great story - ingenuity, terror, war, tech - and it's an incredible snapshot of the late 1950s. Well worth a listen - I don't normal listen to American accents, but this guy has a great voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • edel
    county clare, Ireland
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "loving this so far"

    I am really enjoying this one...the voices are great, very atmospheric...



    Loving it to the point that I am buying extra food, more flour..more canned goods!...feckin' apocalyptic novels, they always haunt my nightmares

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • chloe
    Pillac, France
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Perfect for Doomsday Preppers"

    I'm not sure how I came to find this book as I discovered, after I listened to it, that it had been written in the 50's. The story is the world after USA and Soviet Union have attacked each other with nuclear warheads. The perspective is a small town Florida lawyer who gets 24 hours avance warning from his brother of the impending attacks. Our hero then prepares himself and works with his immediate neighbours to survive the chaos. Written with believable gusto, the story takes the characters through 18 months or so, during which time, they learn to survive and adjust to a new world. I was gripped by the narrative and wanted to find out what happens to them. Some of the incidental characters are rather one-dimensional - the venal banker, the superficial socialite mother, but you feel empathy for others who have to adapt. I also loved Will Patton's voice. He captures the gritty American determination to survive - he has the voice of a rather world weary cowboy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • christian
    POISSY, France
    9/26/11
    Overall
    "Excellent post-apocalyptic book"

    Amazing to think this was written back in 1959, a year after I was born. It's very modern in its tone and style, and I loved it, and the narrator. A great read, a great writer, a very poetic style, this is a classic apparently and I can understand why...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Patrick
    4/12/17
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    "good story. but of its time"

    like a 1950s version of One Second After. both good books. 4+ stars. both of their time. this from the missile gap times. but it all kicked off in the meddle east, and that part could have been written yesterday.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sarahtermite
    12/4/15
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    "An old book that has really stood the test of time"
    What did you like most about Alas, Babylon?

    I do like a post apocalyptic drama, and this one was unusual in the amount of time spent setting up the community before the apocalypse. As a result, you had a much better feel for how this town collapsed and then rebuilt itself in the aftermath. Entirely believable, and the fact that it was written more than 50 years ago doesn't really affect the essential human drama.


    Any additional comments?

    You have to give it a bit of leeway, in that it was written so long ago, and there are aspects of racism and sexism that simply aren't acceptable today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. D. Thompson
    leeds
    12/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "feels unfinished "

    I enjoyed the book overall, but it feels unfinished. there were lots of interesting points but often some actions or stories were dealt with very quickly when they could have been explored further. it's like the opposite of Stephen King.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. P. D. Selman
    Kent, U.K.
    4/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's the end of the world as we know it..."
    What did you like most about Alas, Babylon?

    Hands down, it was Will Patton's superb narration. I can't imagine a more perfect choice to read this book.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Payton Bragg. A sweet little girl with the grit to do anything to help her family. She takes a lickin' but keeps on kickin'.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    'Welcome to the apocalypse... It's not as bad as you thought it might be, apparently.'


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this book. Set in a 1950s American South just as a nuclear war begins, this story focuses on the Bragg family as they pick themselves up and try to repair their lives and their community after The Day (when the bombs drop). My only problem with the book is that, well... is it just me or would a post-nuclear holocaust world not be significantly worse than the world portrayed in this book? I think the author's intention was to show the horrors of nuclear war but the message he actually ends up getting across seems to be: Nuclear war? OK, it's BAD, but you'll be all right if you just show a little gumption and pull together'.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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