• The White Plague

  • By: Frank Herbert
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 19 hrs and 49 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (400 ratings)

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The White Plague  By  cover art

The White Plague

By: Frank Herbert
Narrated by: Scott Brick
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Publisher's summary

A warm day in Dublin, a crowded street corner. Suddenly, a car-bomb explodes, killing and injuring scores of innocent people. From the second-floor window of a building across the street, a visiting American watches, helpless, as his beloved wife and children are sacrificed in the heat and fire of someone else's cause.

From this shocking beginning, the author of the phenomenal Dune series has created a masterpiece. The White Plague is a marvelous and terrifyingly plausible blend of fiction and visionary theme. It tells of one man's revenge, of the man watching from the window who is pushed over the edge of sanity by the senseless murder of his family and who, reappearing several months later as the so-called Madman, unleashes a terrible vengeance upon the human race.

John Roe O'Neill is a molecular biologist who has the knowledge, and now the motivation, to devise and disseminate a genetically carried plague - a plague to which, like those that scourged mankind centuries ago, there is no antidote, but one that zeroes in, unerringly and fatally, on women.

As the world slowly recognizes the reality of peril, as its politicians and scientists strive desperately to save themselves and their society from the prospect of human extinction, so does Frank Herbert grapple with one of the great themes of contemporary life: the enormous dangers that lurk at the dark edges of science. The White Plague is a prophetic, believable, and utterly compelling novel.

©2007 Frank Herbert (P)2008 Tantor

Critic reviews

"A tale of awesome revenge." ( The Cincinnati Enquirer)
"A speculative intellect with few rivals in modern SF." ( The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)

What listeners say about The White Plague

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book and not a rip off

I just finished this book a couple minutes ago, and I enjoyed it very much. This story is about a plague that only affects women. It doesn't seem to be like most of the other Frank Herbert books. That made it even more enjoyable and thought provoking.
The book I listened to right before this book was a Stephen & Owen King and it too coincidentally is about a plague that only affects women. The Herbert book was excellent and the King book was trash and seemed to be ripped off from The White Plague.

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103 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good story once through

The White Plague is a decent story, well told, with good narration. It's especially interesting for its portrayal of the terrorist mentality from the perspective of the 1970s and 80s, when the most commonly reported terrorist attacks were those of the IRA and the Palestinians.

Given the advances in genetic engineering since those days, I suspect that Herbert barely scratched the surface of what could be accomplished now by a brilliant, or even mediocre, genetic engineer, but I give him high grades for his vision of the future. Another aspect of the "let's knock off a huge percentage of the human race and see what happens" genre is how the aftermath is handled. What is the author's vision of the remolded world? Again, Herbert does a credible job imagining what things would be like and throws in some interesting twists. We are allowed to see the new world as it is walked by the protagonist. This could become tedious, but is instead well paced and interesting.

In the final analysis, however, I only give the book three stars. While the story is well told, I really didn't care a lot about any of the characters. For that reason, I was ready for the book to be over about two hours before it ended. I doubt that I will ever bother to listen to this book again, and that is something I really look for in audio books.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought Provoking

This would make a great TV mini series. It's not science fiction as much as its a cautionary tale...With a lot of musings on the nation of Ireland being its own worst enemy. The novel is a bit longer than it needed to be, while at the same time some plotlines could've been expanded. I also found the narrating by Scott Brick slow and overly dramatic.