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The Death of Grass

Narrated by: William Gaminara
Length: 6 hrs and 40 mins
4 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A viral strain has attacked rice crops in East Asia, causing massive famine; soon a mutation appears that infects the staple crops of West Asia and Europe, such as wheat and barley, threatening a famine engulfing the whole of the Old World, while Australasia and the Americas attempt to impose rigorous quarantine to exclude the virus.

Christopher's classic post-apocalyptic novel follows the struggles of architect John Custance and his family as they make their way across an England that is rapidly descending into anarchy, hoping to reach the safety of John's brother's farm in an isolated Westmorland valley. Along the way, they find they must sacrifice many of their morals in order to stay alive.

Here is an unusual and absorbing piece of science-fiction about the relentless transformation of civilisation when the balance of nature is upset.

©1956 Samuel Youd (P)2011 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"I admire The Death of Grass. It was published at roughly the same time as The Day Of The Triffids. In my judgement, it is by far the better book. It is a thrilling and sensible work." (Brian Aldiss)
"Gripping! Of all science fiction's apocalypses, this is one of the most haunting." ( Financial Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent, frightening story

This story is terrifying, and it is sad that one can imagine this would be a likely scenario given such events. It is well paced and moves along nicely. If you like end of the world science fiction, you will probably like this.

One warning however, there is an introduction in which someone tries to place the novel in its literary istorical context and comment on various aspects of it. Though interesting, the reviewer gives away major portions of the plot and dialogue and it really hurts the story. I advise you skip that as it contains significant story spoilers, and listen to it afterward, if you are curious.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprising Rediscovery

This book has haunted me since I read it as a young teen many decades ago. It came into my hands as an item from the Science Fiction Book Club subscription series. Sheltered, innocent for my age, I knew that I didn't understand certain aspects of the book. Perhaps some of my appreciation now comes from filling in those blanks. But I expected something else, something raggeder, less concise and unflinching. I recognize here the obvious origins of McCarthy"s THE ROAD as well as several recent post-apocalypse films. This is anything but a young adult book. It is a small masterpiece.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • 08-18-11

The end of the world as seen from the 1950's

I fondly remembered reading John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy as a child so when I came across this I leapt at the chance to listen to one of his books for adults. I was not disappointed.

The publisher's summary offers a useful guide to the plot and the comparisons with Day of the Triffids are obvious. What was more striking (as the book progressed) were the echoes of Lord of the Flies (published two years earlier); the difference being that Golding chose to examine the impact upon children of their removal from civilization whereas Christopher describes the possible impact upon adults of a breakdown in civil society.

The result is fascinating and sometimes illuminating even if it ultimately remains a book of its time and William Gaminara does an inspired job of animating the relatively large cast of characters.

If you do choose to download then one last piece of advice. The recording includes an introduction by Robert Macfarlane. This is interesting but includes a number of significant spoilers. I therefore rather think that it would have been better included as an afterword. The novel proper begins with a "prodrome" at 19mins 40 secs and I would therefore recommend that you speed forward to that and listen to the introduction at the end.

49 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Laura
  • 01-05-15

One of my favourite books of all time

This is an incredible book and it is really well read. I would really recommend reading or listening to this one- probably one of my all time favourites.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • carl
  • 02-01-18

Overall a good read

The writing style is showing its age, this book lacks any science and its very old fashioned, however I quite liked the book overall.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • English Country Life
  • 04-15-14

A darkly disturbing period piece

Where does The Death of Grass rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

A great book by a good author. A period piece for sure - but like other classics such as "The 39 Steps" or "Rogue Male" none the worse for that.

What did you like best about this story?

A good idea, well developed with at least one dark anti hero

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roderic
  • 01-20-14

A satisfying Post-Apocalyptic Offering

Would you listen to The Death of Grass again? Why?

This sort of book is not one I would listen to again, though I enjoyed it once. A lot revolves around the plot, but I now know what happens next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Steven
  • 10-14-13

The reader is right for the period setting.

The reader has the right plummy voice for the setting of this book: Posh British people during the apocalypse. He makes a good stab at using different voices for each character and more importantly he has a wide range of regional British accents. This is important as the story is a travel-log. People in London have a safe place to go to in the country and must get there. Over-all not a bad book . I would recommend it if you like day of the Triffids.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 06-22-13

William Gaminara is great reader.

If you could sum up The Death of Grass in three words, what would they be?

An interesting yarn

What three words best describe William Gaminara’s performance?

Really very good

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

The ending - a bit shocking

Any additional comments?

A great tale. Not quite as good as The Tripods. But nonetheless worth a listen

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 04-07-13

How humans change!

A simple premise - the death of grass leads to world-wide famine and the ensuring chaos. Often chosen as a secondary school text for study due to the character dimensions that change rapidly as a result of the situation. When faced with survival - how would you change? What would you do? What wouldn't you do? A fantastic story, quite grim too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 03-13-15

Marmite well passed its sell buy date

Any additional comments?

Despite it being loved my many. This one, for me has not aged well. I usually enjoy dystopian fiction but this I really disliked. The story was dull, dull, dull the characters very wooden,unlikable and totally unbelievable. Did not think it credible that practically overnight, faced with a food shortage that the majority of the male characters would leave their morals behind and at the drop of a bowler hat, turn into cold blooded killers. Was disturbed by the racism,classism and misogyny, not because I'm easily offended, but worried that may of been how a percentage of 50's Britain thought, Hmm I hope not!. There are some events in the book I found very distasteful.Not so much by the event itself but the attitudes of the characters. I Rolled my eyes at some of the crappy dialogue, and shook my head in disbelief at the books, views on woman, race, and class. A sci-fi classic for most,for me a steaming pile of poo. I made it all the way to the end but It left a nasty taste in my mouth ! If I ever see a paper copy I might buy it just to burn it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mike T.
  • 07-03-19

The Death of Civilization...

... might as well have been another title for this book. Or perhaps more to the point "The Death of Morals and Decent Civilized Behaviour". And that death comes fast. Even among the protagonists the breakdown of morals is too swift to be really believable.

That said this is still a tense and gripping dystopian / apocalypse tale.

Narration is very good.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-06-19

superb, but grim

This remains a genuinely frightening book. The story is spare and perfectly plotted. A minor weakness that is not of it's own making, is that when written the war was recent history that would be expected to shape the responses of people at large. It is harder to feel confident in how groups would respond today. A closer to this day analogue is The Road, but it really dodges the question of the first day, which this book fearlessly tackles

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David M.
  • 06-24-19

Very English but oh so good

An end of civilization novel by John Wyndham that raises interesting questions. Are we doomed to repeat the actions of the past? Where does a person's loyalty lie?