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Publisher's Summary

Something has gone wrong. A group of American bombers armed with nuclear weapons is streaking past the fail-safe point, beyond recall, and no one knows why. Their destination - Moscow.

In a bomb shelter beneath the White House, the calm young president turns to his Russian translator and says, "I think we are ready to talk to Premier Kruschchev." Not far away, in the War Room at the Pentagon, the secretary of defense and his aides watch with growing anxiety as the luminous blips crawl across a huge screen map. High over the Bering Strait in a large Vindicator bomber, a colonel stares in disbelief at the attack code number on his fail-safe box and wonders if it could possibly be a mistake.

First published in 1962, when America was still reeling from the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fail-Safe reflects the apocalyptic attitude that pervaded society during the height of the Cold War, when disaster could have struck at any moment. As more countries develop nuclear capabilities and the potential for new enemies lurks on the horizon, Fail-Safe and its powerful issues continue to be relevant.

©1962 Eugene Burdick and John Harvey Wheeler, Jr (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about Fail-Safe

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Cold War Miss

I love Cold War fiction ever since I read Alas, Babylon. I feel it’s an era I missed out on because I was too young to remember. I’ve taken a chance on lesser known works, some leaving me surprisingly fulfilled, and others that made me actually ask wtf, did the author have to get up and leave the country in the middle of the story?

This book is not great. Not terrible, but not one I’d instantly recommend. It does get my attention at first and I can see the premonition, but further along we are given life history of most characters involved which seems like filler. I began to like the reader’s voice because it had a strange lilt to it.

Until he started speaking in a Russian accent. And when I say Russian, I mean full on French. Not exaggerating at all. I kept waiting for him to say Sacre Bleu! but he never did. Don’t do accents if you can’t. Just don’t.

Otherwise, after the bios are done, we get back to the story and ends in a way that frankly surprised me. Which is good because I hate endings I can see from 1/4 through the book.

All said, it was ok. It wasn’t 13 days or Red October by any stretch, but I held out to the end.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fail-Safe knocked me for a loop!

If you could sum up Fail-Safe in three words, what would they be?

Could really happen

Who was your favorite character and why?

The president.
I felt a real connection to the character. The way he gathered opinions and used the people he has chosen to make decisions, the readers (or listeners) are privy to knowledge he doesn’t have and yet his actions are bold and startling. I felt at ease with his manners and voice, it exuded confidence and determination.

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

Yes. In this instance his reading was more of a performance, not over the top mind you but a steady storytelling and his use of different character voices was great. I listen while driving and I need something interesting to help me stay sharp on the road. It was very enjoyable.

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

I did laugh out loud when protesters "They burned the book, then apologized to a non-listening public"
But at the end I really wanted MORE, what happens next.

Any additional comments?

This was the first audio book I listened to that I had not read or seen the movie first, it took me a while to get into the characters with all the set-up required, it was worth it and it may be just the way I am :o)

1 person found this helpful

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Cliffhanger ending!

Would you consider the audio edition of Fail-Safe to be better than the print version?

For me YES. The narrator was terrific and brought the story to 'real' life.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked all as they played an important part.

What about Kevin Kraft’s performance did you like?

Kevin Kraft has a rich barratone voice with a hint of an accent. One that I loved to listen to.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Very thought provoking. A very good read.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Fail Safe Audio Book Good For The Drive!

Would you try another book from Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler and/or Kevin Kraft?

Kevin Kraft took what was an extremely dry topic and infused enthusiasm into the audio presentation.

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

I was surprised at what the president of the United States did after the unintentional act perpetrated upon Russia.

Which scene was your favorite?

The ending was my favorite part - really unexpected.

Could you see Fail-Safe being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No - I think the subject matter may be too dated to be appealing to a contemporary audience.

Any additional comments?

The narrator did a very good job presenting the different characters. I would definitely listen to another book narrated by Mr. Kraft.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent, apocalyptic yet hopeful

What a great book. Harkens back to the times of ethics and values in politics. Well-written. Apocalyptic. Devastating

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Awesome.

This is one of my 'keeper' books, the ones I periodically re-read; this was a GREAT audio rendition of the novel ... brought tears to my eyes at the end. Thanks, Kevin Kraft, for a magnificent reading.

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Fail Safe

Wonderful book in audiobook, and even better than movie. How "smart" devices make a mistake.

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A nuclear-era book that captures the culture of the United States during the Cold War

Absent the very small and irrelevant family commentary, this is a wonderful and accurate and deep pre-meaningful book about the Cold War crisis with Russia and the potential for a nuclear holocaust. I was required to read this back in high school early College. The rendition of this on the web is extremely good. The reader makes only two or three grammatical errors, and most people Will not even catch them.

The ethical dilemmas revealed in this book and the concepts of automation versus human decision-making a superb. Definitely worth listening to every second of it.

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must read for anyone under 40

Realistic portrayal of the madness world leaders toy with while billions of humans worry about getting likes on Facebook. Anyone born after 1977 should read this book.

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Absolutely compelling drama!

Words escape grasp to describe impact of this hypothetical story! Narration, superb! God save us!

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  • Mr Farrimond
  • 08-08-18

Gripping, flawless and haunting....

This story is set in the era of cold-war paranoia and suspicion. Like Nevil Shute's 'On The Beach' it has a chilling theme that, through its characters and credible story alludes to the horror and insanity that is represented by the concepts of nuclear 'deterrence' and the threat of mutually assured destruction', and although is set in the early sixties, describes a threat that is sadly all too relevant today. Kevin Kraft gives an excellent reading, capturing fully the characterisation, drama and sentiment of what is ultimately a very poignant message....I strongly recommend this audio-book.