Alas, Babylon

 
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Product Description

The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the world.

Customer Reviews:

  • Character-driven survival story
    I like this book, but not for the reasons I expected. First, unlike most post-nuclear books, this is mostly a strict survival story with few nuclear elements. In fact, the characters only encounter radiation in one small subplot. Therefore, the nuclear war is merely a backdrop.

    The book tells a survival story where a small town is cut off from the rest of the world (which mostly no longer exists) and must make do with existing skills and resources. The central hero, Randy, is appealing and believable.

    The characters are the main reason to like this story. None of the main characters "turn bad" post-apocalypse style, so the tension is mostly generated by sympathizing with these people and their trials. A simple story, but certainly worth reading.
    ...more info
  • Alas Babylon
    I read this book back when it was first published and have reread the book several times over the following years. It is a story of a group of survivers after a nuclear war and their day to day efforts to keep going and work with the resources at hand. The characters are well written and the story is "fleshed out" so that you feel like you are really there with them. The story is quite believable because the people are everyday people like us who make the best of their situation. I'm now looking for a new book because of the wear on my other book. Highly recommended....more info
  • Great Writing, and forming of characters
    Throughout this book you learn of characters and one named Randy who has to go and get ready for an event that will change the world. IT is during the cold war, and what could have happened to the U.S. if the bomb had been sent over. One man is trying to save his family and feed them as best he knows how, as he himself is beginning to adapt to the environment, and the new ways of life that have befallen him. ...more info
  • A Mature Look At Nuclear War
    If you came to this book looking for Mad Max, dont bother. If you want to reinforce your concept that life on Earth will end with the explosion of one nuke, go elsewhere. But if youre interested in how the collapse of society would impact everyday people, this novel is for you.

    Pat Frank takes a fairly reasoned look at the affects of a nuclear war on small town America in the early to mid 1960s. To put it in a nutshell, everone in a small Florida town goes stir crazy for a few days after the bombs drop, looks around and sees they may survive if they act normal and build a new society and economy. How they get from point A to point B is the real joy of this book.

    The one legitimate flaw with this tome that others have pointed out is it is quite dated, especially when considering race relations. Also, gender issues are dealt with from an angle we would not be used to today. Most (but not all) of the black characters are somewhat ignorant of the larger world. The female characters are emotional and are prepared to collapse into crying fits over the smallest of quandaries. That said, Pat Frank does present these characters sympathetically and allows them to shine. In ways, this quirk enhances the book as the author's take on these matters is largely appropriate to the time frame.

    The next major point of criticism is that the book doesnt accurately reflect the truth about nuclear war as there are survivors. When considering this issue, one must remember the time frame of the story. The Soviets didnt have that many nukes in this time period and had very little capability of dropping them on America. If anything, Frank goes beyond what would be likely.

    Finally Ive noted lots of the poor ratings given to this book came from people who were forced to read it in grade school. This is certainly understandable. I would be inclined to give low ratings to books stuffed down my throat too! Still, I urge prospective buyers to take these critiques with a grain of salt....more info
  • this is my first choice
    have worn out one copy of this book and had to buy a new one. It isn't graphic it's just a wonderful look at what could happen to the very very lucky few who survive "well" after a nuclear war and how they do it, Fantastic character development, you KNOW these people they pull you in and take you for a nice pleasant ride...more info
  • Excellent Book!
    While it's not exactly a first-person point of view, this book's 'narration' of events and storyline are excellent, and make you feel as though you're right there.

    It's deep, it's all encompassing, and it really brings to light the fact that we are somewhat ignorant and unaware of our own surroundings.

    People think that the Cold War is defined simply by a period of living in fear of a Red Invasion & Nuclear fallout. We can sit around now and laugh at how paranoid people were. However, the times we are living in NOW could be considered just as uneasy and paranoid as that period in time.

    It's a good read, very simple yet complex in its plot.

    It's a great glimpse into mankind becoming 'civlized' at the end of civilization as we knew it....more info
  • A classic tale that still holds up today
    When I saw Alas, Babylon in the bookstore, I recognized it as a classic title but knew next to nothing about it. So, I picked up a copy to read on vacation. My verdict? Very good book -- not a very good vacation read!

    This is one of the first post-nuclear apocalypse tales, published in the thick of the Cold War in 1959. Although world events have made the political backdrop of this novel obsolete, Frank tells a tale that still resonates.

    Frank's writing feels surprisingly contemporary, even if the society it depicts is an American South that no longer really exists. (The treatment of people of color in this book is absolutely painful sometimes, but Frank is clearly not happy about it.)

    The broad strokes of this story may feel familiar to us now, because we've been exposed to other post-apocalyptic tales in which people are suddenly stripped of technology, medicine and the comforts of modern civilization. In fact, if you watched the television series Jericho, you'll see a huge amount of similarity in Alas, Babylon, minus the soap opera elements found on the TV show.

    I recommend this book simply because it's well-written and thoughtful. I just don't recommend it as vacation reading... it somehow didn't mesh with tropical surroundings, froofy drinks and sunny beaches!...more info
  • Alas Babylon
    Despite its age, Alas Babylon has a great deal to say about what happens to people in a crisis. It is a excellant read with well developed characters and an interesting story line. It would make great "beach reading" this Summer!...more info
  • Outdated? Did we read the same book?
    Some people say the book is outdated, but really, we are under the same dark cloud that was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Granted, the strike zones today would be different than those in the 50s, but Nuclear Warfare is a very real possibility. North Korea?! HELLO!
    This book was really a can't put down for me. I found myself wanting to start stockpiling food and move out into the mid-west. Not fantastical, and not too sci-fi, this book is a gritty realization of what would happen if the US was devastated by a large scale nuclear attack. ...more info
  • Crap characters, excellent setting and premise
    The best thing about this book is the setting. The descriptions of a post apocalyptic United States is excellent. It really made me think about what civilization means: law and order, running water, food supplies, transportation, etc.

    The biggest flaw with the book is its characters. The character development is non-existent. Randy, the protagonist, is extremely bland. He has no flaws (well, he's a liberal) and a perfect leader.

    The story is also extremely optimistic. Personally, I like a bit more cynicism.

    Despite these two gripes, this is a great post apocalyptic book and a short read to boot. I'll never forget the descriptions of nuclear armegeddon as Randy and friends watch from their house....more info
  • Very Good.
    If you are into post-apocalyptic science fiction, this should definitely be on your list. Could use better character development, but still a classic....more info
  • Futuristic Must Read
    High schools are requiring this book for their students and it is quite worth the read. I gleaned so many helpful insights from this interesting story of an unexpected atomic attack. It is a chilling account of what we could expect if the worst case scenario ever came into being. After reading it, I bought extra sugar and coffee....more info
  • Summer reading... made enjoyable?
    Every year I dread summer reading for school. Not because I don't like reading, on the contrary, I love to read. Yet I always feel limited when I look at the list offered by the school and see nothing that tickles my fancies.

    This time, it was different. I took out a book titled Alas, Babylon after hearing it was a Post-apocalyptic tale. Boy, am I glad I did that. The novel was captivating, with wonderful characters, a great setting, and did I mention, wonderful characters?

    While the story is a bit unbelievable, (the family lives about what? 50 miles from a nuclear attack), it makes up for the realism in so many other ways.

    The story tells of a man's struggle to help his family and community survive and maintain civilization. What makes the novel such a powerful tale is the way Pat Frank brings the characters to life. All of the many active characters have deep personalities that are unveiled to the reader as the story progresses. Overall, I'd recommend this story to anyone....more info
  • Nuclear book review
    I just finished reading this book on the advise from a friend of my wife. I have to say that it is one of the more realistic post nuclear war books that I have read to date.

    The book accurately deals with the long term shortages of both food and water. It also depicits how the main characters overcome not having these necessities available. Wide scale looting is also presented which, I would say is pretty realistic in light of the recent events following hurricane Katrina.

    I would reccomend this book to anyone who takes their survival seriously and wants a realistic view of how drastic their life would change due to nuclear war. Even though the story takes place during the height of the Cold War, the message and it's lessons are still valid.
    Mike D...more info
  • Out of the ashes
    The ultimate "doomer" novel, Babylon remains a classic. In the aftermath of nuclear war, "the only winning move is not to play" becomes evident when both sides are nearly annihilated. Randy Bragg takes control of his small Florida town and struggles to maintain order and survive. Interesting story of survival and what might happen if life as we know it suddenly ended....more info
  • Life In Post-Apocalypse America
    I read this book the first time when I was a very young teenager~~at the height of the Cold War/Political Paranoia Age~~that time of bomb shelters, Civil Defense emergency drills, and children hiding under desks from Hiroshima-like devastation.

    Professional reporter and occasional novelist Pat Frank's 'Alas Babylon', puts 'On The Beach' to shame. An examination of small-town life with all its foibles, driven by a flawed everyman protagonist, the book is a stand-alone, fabulous read. It became an instant favorite of mine all those years ago. And even today, looking, as I do, at life through the other end of the binoculars, 'Alas Babylon' holds a permanent place on my bookshelves, and in my heart....more info
  • Great book.
    The novel, Alas, Babylon, authored by Pat Frank is very remarkable in its nature in that it has still kept its integrity till this day. Frank explores the chilling thought of the United States being attacked by an atomic bomb from the Soviet's during the Cold War. Many question Frank in his evaluation of "what would have happened" if the Cold War turned terribly wrong because they believe an atomic war during the Cold War would have never happened; they deem it unrealistic. This way of thought was expressed by many during the Cold War, including politicians. In the novel, Frank indirectly mocks this way thought. For example, when an atomic bomb destroys the United States capitol, all of the high ranking politicians, including the President, die because of not being prepared for an atomic war. The new acting President of the United States was debased to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. What interested me the most in the novel is how Frank analyzes the role of technology in society. For instance, in the novel, the citizens of Fort Repose are forced to survive the aftermath of the atomic attack without their amenities. In the town, money became just a piece of paper; coffee, alcohol, and gas became luxuries; vehicles were deemed useless after supplies of gas ran dry. All things of symbolic value or worth where diminished in the society, resulting in the citizens focusing on what is "real." This analysis of technology in society by Frank is notable, as this has became an overwhelming problem in modern society. ...more info
  • A world in which the targets have changed but the danger has not
    The threat of nuclear war has not disappeared; it's only been minimized as other threats have joined it. Terrorism, global warming and the faltering economy threaten to do just as much damage as a nuclear weapon could but in different ways.

    Pat Frank masterfully weaves a wonderful story about survival after "The Day". The ending message is not that Nuclear War is inevitable but that it can be avoided and survived by some should it occur.

    This message tends to be a reoccurring theme in many of Frank's books. Overcoming unlikely odds to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will agree with another reviewer that Frank's characters do tend to be underdeveloped, but that's just fine with me. It's like the same in life; sometimes what lies beneath the surface isn't revealed immediately. If it ever is at all.

    I give it five stars; it definitely deserves to be the classic that it is.

    People interested in this book might also want to check out 'Hold Back The Night' which is about a Marine company's experiences during the Korean War.

    ...more info
  • Should be read in schools
    I enjoyed this book from page one, the think with this book is "IT COULD HAPPEN"...more info
  • Still good reading
    I read this book when I was in junior high and read it again 40 years later. The first time I read it was just before the Cuban Crises when Kennedy confronted the Russians. It was thought provoking as well as entertaining and I enjoyed it even more the second time. I strongly recommend it to those who like post apocalyptic novels and are interested in human behavior when all the normal luxuries are taken from us. There is definite insight as to how we react in crises. Read it and enjoy it and then think about it. Compare it to the more recent "One Second After"...more info
  • excellent
    I WAS RAISED IN THE 50'S WHEN THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WAR HUNG OVER US. IT DEPICTS WELL HOW THINGS COULD ACTUALLY BE IF IT HAD HAPPENED....more info
  • Cold War Hysteria
    ALAS, BABYLON is the story of a washed-out lawyer living in small-town Florida in the 50s. In the aftermath of thermonuclear war, he becomes the leader to rally his family and neighbors to survive in the desperate situation.

    I'm afraid I can't say much to recommend this book. The characters are flat and uninteresting, with persons of color and women portrayed as the barest of stereotypes. Far too much time is spent in the beginning of the book describing the chess-like moves of the USA and Soviets that lead up to the war. This book is probably typical of the mentality of the 50s, but seems extremely dated to a modern reader. The `group of survivors after a world-wide catastrophe' has been done much better by other authors; for example THE STAND by Stephen King.
    ...more info
  • Reqd reading in High School
    I remember reading this in High School and I have been looking to pick it up for a re-read....more info
  • One of the books I remembered most
    I read this book in the early 70's, in Junior High School, in Florida. It was so real to me. These people were just like my neighbors. Their fears were the same. Their sense of community, the same. When reading this book, I kept looking to the horizon thinking, "Could this truly happen." A must read for anyone studying the times....more info
  • loved it
    I am of the age that the cold war is just another history fact. But this book brings that time to life. It forces you to think of how you would react if place in that situation. Would you be one who would pick up the pieces and rebuild a life or would you be one to give up. Its a great story about the time but also people and how we react to life changing events....more info
  • Well worth an evening or two
    I've read Alas, Babylon several times over the years. It is always worth picking up again. Pat Frank writes with a distinct style that accurately captures life in 1950's Florida.

    His work starkly highlights how different our racial attitudes, sexual mores and cultural taboos have become since those days. The writing is entertaining, compelling and full of rich characters.

    Perhaps most importantly, Frank was one of the first to chronicle a threat that is still with us, the threat of nuclear conflict. In Alas, Babylon, the threat is between superpowers. The bombs of that era pale in comparison to the bombs that exist today which only serves to make the imagined reality of life after nuclear war more sobering for a reader in the year 2007.

    Frank knew what he was writing about because his real name was Harry Hart, and Harry Hart was a journalist, government consultant and ultimately a talented writer. I highly recommend spending an evening or two with survivors of Fort Repose, Florida. Alas, Babylon is one of those rare novels that completely transport me out of the room I'm in and into the author's imagination. ...more info
  • An old favorite
    I read this book in high school and now I am 35 years old and found myself browsing book stores to locate a new copy of this. The story stuck with me from High School and I just had to have a another copy of it. When I was in high school reading always put me to sleep. This is the first book I ever read that I did not sleep through. I am glad to have found a copy of an out of print book. Thanks Amazon! ...more info
  • Gripping
    A very captivating book. I can understand why this one was deemed a "classic". It's one of those books that seems to span the course of time, that is maintaining the same feel today as it did in 1959. A few historical elements are clearly present, such as the absence of cellular phones and a television with a dial tuner, but otherwise it still seems modernized. I highly recommend this novel for anyone who is watching the CBS Show "Jericho", as it bears some distinctive similiarities....more info
  • Late Comer to a Good Book
    I don't know how I missed this one in school... a little dated now (2008), the spirit of perserverance in the face of disaster is what I believe has made the USA unique. To appreciate Alas, Babylon you should probably have a Pollyana-ish streak - at least lean to the optimistic view of the future; but that does not distract from a good 'end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it" sceanario. Sure wish my Jr. High/High School teachers had pushed this on me way back when!...more info
  • Interesting story; a bit clunky
    Pat Frank had the fine idea to focus on small area after a nuclear war and limit the perspective to what one somewhat isolated area experiences. He's got a good idea for logistics -- what preparations could be made before the war, how people could make due with what is stocked, how their resources and resourcefulness would serve them, and so on. So it's interesting to watch as events play out for one county.

    The problem is that the dialogue is often pretty stilted and painful. Some situations seem a little too much of their time, as well -- the women tend to sit back and see what the men do and don't take leadership roles; hardly likely in any era when humans themselves have become a precious resource. (One woman ardently keeps the telegraph office going, but that ain't much.) The children also seem to be either young for their age or wisely and stoically old for their age, so it reads very much like 1950's melodrama.

    Fortunately, the nuts and bolts of the thing are absorbing enough to keep things moving. The end is a bit abrupt, but believable.

    Worth a read....more info
  • Almost too good . . . .
    I read this book as a teenager and was so taken by it that I would reread it several years in a row. Its picture of life after a nuclear war is harrowing and frightening. In a sense, this is a prelude of the story that concludes with "On the Beach". The only problem is that Frank writes so well and gives such a hopeful slant to the possibility of survival that some readers might want to be there when the missles start to fall. (By the way, this much superior to that mess of a movie "The Day After"--and, oh how I wish, it would have made a splendid film. I believe it was made as a Playhouse 90 for TV in the 50s. Oh, would I love to see that!)...more info
  • One of the best.
    Alas Babylon, written by Pat Frank (Harry Hart), and published in 1959 just might be the best disaster fiction book I've read. It's one I reread every so often as I find it so interestingly well thought out. It was written during the cold war when there was much concern about war, missile, and space races, however, the story is mostly about mans survival not his demise. And about trials faced, and overcome. An uplifting novel I'll undoubtedly read again....more info
  • Wonderful
    While Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" deals with nuclear war after the fact, Pat Frank puts the reader right in the middle of the war and lets them witness firsthand the mass hysteria and carnage that would accompany the beginning and aftermath in the first few years afterwards.

    The actual beginning of the nuclear war occupies only the first few chapters of the book, and the fallout, both literally and figuratively, is what makes up the rest. Having the reader in the middle of the action is what hits home the most--especially when the radio address by the new president, a woman who is about twentieth in line to succeed the president, reads a complete listing of the areas with so much fallout that people are forbidden to enter or leave them. Chills will run down your spine when you read this part and realize that you are right in the midst of one of these zones.

    This book is more optimistic than Nevil Shute's, so perhaps it's less realistic. However, Frank weaves a wonderful story of people picking up the pieces of the shattered world and managing to move on together in the face of such tragedy. Definitely a worthwhile read....more info

  • great, but a little outdated.
    I am in my mid twenties so I was not afforded the displeasure of living through most of the Cold War. Therefore, "Alas,Babylon" was a book I didnt quite identify with. At least not as much as a baby boomer might.
    That being said, It is nessecary to understand to fully appreciate this book. The book itself is great. I had trouble putting it down and finished it in about 48hrs. It is the story of a families life during a nuclear war. I estimate the time period to be around the late 50's to early 60's. The novel drags a bit in spots but the overall effect is gratifying. I feel the novel gets the point across while being very entertaining.
    While it is not even a close second to "A Canticle For Leibowitz" it is still a good book. I would recommend it to a friend. ...more info
  • A Better WWIII is Hard to Find...
    I was born in 1985, and so didn't have the fun opportunity to live through the Cold War. Alas, Babylon tells the story of a small Florida town that lives through the nuclear exhange of a Third World War. Unlike most Cold War-Third World War books, Alas Babylon doesn't seem dated. It's better written than virtually all of the type, with an excellent story, and well fleshed-out characters.

    Overall, the story goes through three stages. First is the buildup to war, with the establishment of characters and setting. Second comes the war itself and the crisis immediately following. The story stays confined to the town; the authors don't feel the need to go over every little aspect of the war, which is a definite plus. The final stage and conclusion comes as the town adjusts to its new condition, cut off from the world, and contact with the remains of the US government is established only at the end of the book.

    I strongly recommend reading and purchasing it. I purchased it used, and have not regretted it. The only things that prevented me from granting Alas Babylon a full five stars were my skepticism at the townsfolk finding things just as they talk about them, and the overall ease at which the ordinary people of the town survive. There is the standard "medical emergency" in books of this type, along with other standard crises typical with Third World war novels, but there is enough unique about Alas Babylon to make it perhaps the best and most fulfilling example of this subgenre of literature....more info
  • Outstanding
    Even though this book was written over 40 years ago, it is still very pertinent. Part of what I enjoyed about this book was that it was centered around a group of people that really weren't prepared for such an event.

    Actually, I have become akmost obsessed with making sure I have plenty of salt since rading this book!...more info
  • The best post nuclear holocaust book I have ever read
    My first experience with this book was when we were required to read it in our ninth grade English class. I enjoyed it so much that I have read it twice since then. The premise is that there is a great deal of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and it erupts into a full-blown nuclear exchange. Randy Bragg lives in Fort Repose, a small town in Central Florida. His brother is an officer in the Strategic Air Command and sends his family to Randy's home where he thinks they will be safer.
    While Randy is warned about the possibility of a nuclear war and he tries to prepare, much of what he does is of little value. The bombs explode and the world is suddenly turned upside down. On the bad side of the ledger, society is disrupted and there is a substantial collapse of social order. On the good side, it brings people together and all racial animosity between blacks and whites is gone.
    Since he also served in the military, Randy organizes a defense force and strikes back against the criminal element. With the help of the local black people who are more accustomed to doing without and improvising, they start to rebuild their society. They begin producing food, moonshine and learn to eat animals that they previously would have ignored.
    This is the best post nuclear holocaust book that I have ever read. It speaks of the incredible destruction, but also demonstrates the resilience of the people. If there is one weakness of the book, it is the lack of hordes of outsiders moving into their area. With the large tourist population of Florida, there would have been a flood of refugees moving into the area. In this book, that does not happen. In real life, there would have been a flood of sick and dying people desperate for any kind of assistance they could have received.
    ...more info
  • Political Science
    Any prospective politicians or military officers ought to read Alas Babylon. The novel dissolves the impalpability of a nuclear holocaust, unearthing the probable xenocide of the human race by its own fears, anxieties, and phallic determination to exceed its predecessors in size and strength. Pat Frank's stark portrayal of the microcosmic Florida town's survival after nuclear fallout heralds a warning for many supporters of the "preventative war" mentality. By understanding the past, it is possible to protect the future. By understanding WWII and its descendents, perhaps we can prevent military suicide in the world today....more info
  • Wake Up Call
    It's amazing how a book can change your life. For decades, I've been reading "facts" about being prepared for emergencies, both national and local. Living at the coast of SC taught me the value of stocking up for hurricanes and power outages, but truly, we knew that within a matter of a few days (probably hours), we'd have our power back on. When I was a child in the 50's and 60's, I participated in many "drills" that taught us what to do in case of THE BOMB. However, nothing woke me up like this work of fiction by Pat Frank.

    After a nuclear holocaust affects most of the world, a small community in Florida somehow survives, and the book takes us through the events that change their lives, shape their relationships, and define their character(s). Things happen quickly in Alas Babylon, and I found it hard to put the book down once the bombs were dropped. The small community of Fort Repose and its cast of characters banded together to survive, and in doing so, they learned the value of interdependence and "pluck." Sure, there were elements of cruelty, cowardice, and greed in the novel, but there were also love, courage, and hope.

    As a postscript, my husband also read Frank's book, and we've started stocking up on supplies and trying to learn more about self-sufficiency
    ...more info
  • Sci fi as history
    As a piece of literature, AB is a dud. Though Frank is capable of some fine turns of phrase and interesting character sketches, he's also far too prone to lame dialogue and weak storylines. To the extent that AB sheds light on the 'mentality' of the Cold War years, it is of some historical interest. As a read, however, it's pretty weak....more info
  • receipt of 'Alas Babylon'
    The book arrived within a couple days. A week later, I received another copy along with a charge greater than the initial one. When my next VISA statement arrives, I will be able to see whether I have been properly refunded for the second book as well as the return postage.
    When I ordered another item several months ago, I was charged but never received it.I was unable to contact the seller because his email address was not honored.I backed off and accepted my loss, but I am leary of further purchases. Jane Cotton...more info
  • Better than I remembered
    Before I passed Alas Babylon along to my sons I thought I would re-read it. When I was a young boy and read it for the first time I really enjoyed the survivalist theme. I found a lot more to like on my second reading. Mr. Frank weaves several strong moral fables inside the basic survival novel that really "makes" the story.

    Mr. Frank uses the nuclear backdrop for his most obvious morality lesson on racial equality. Nuclear war is a great equalizer. Set in racially segregated 1950s central Florida, he ensures all nuclear holocaust survivors work together, regardless of race, gender or age. For if they don't, there are immediate consequences. It is a strong and positive message.

    The outcome of excess greed is also highlighted and dealt with harshly. Thieves are left to die of radiation poisoning because they stole radiated property.

    The technical aspects, while dated, are still pretty good. The air-to-air missile that starts WW III is a little out there, but since it's just a small vignette, it's easy to forgive.

    I look forward to my sons reading the book and the discussions it will conjure. From nuclear war to race relations to the drastic moral outcomes for greed, I think it will all be interesting and informative for them.
    ...more info
  • A haunting and cautionary tale ....
    An absorbing rendition of nuclear apocalypse or at least one version of it penned in the 1960's. In one context, this portrayal seems so quaint. The society that survived was propelled back to the 19th century.

    How times have changed. The mega tonnage of nuclear weapons greatly exceeds whatever was the threat 40 years ago. Society - if it survived at all--might be hurtled back into the Dark Ages or Stone Age. To think of a world where there was but one threat, the Soviet Union! Of course now, it is a multiple choice game of America's nuclear enemies: North Korea (bad haircuts and all), Iran and Islamic jihadism fantasizing about ways to nuke the USA, etc. .

    Pat Frank's vision shows how relationships survive even when society is frayed. It is a cautionary tale where, only on the last page is it revealed who actually won the war. The political subtext seems to be, at this great cost, does it really matter who won? What does "winning" look like in a nuclear exchange?

    Were we to concede Frank's point, what is the upshot? Unilaterally disarm? Abandon nuclear weapons? Give America's enemies a stern talking to? Who knows?

    We can all decry the horror of nuclear weapons and the prospect of Armageddon. Alas Babylon is a haunting (and cautionary) tale warning us 40-years later that the Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than ever.
    ...more info
  • Waste of Time
    I set out on a `mission' with an objective to finish Alas, Babylon before the New Year. I started last night (December 28) and finished at exactly 12 o'clock today. The hours I spent reading this piece of literature were long, but I am happy to be writing this entry, knowing that the book is now behind me.
    What can I truly say about Alas, Babylon? Reflecting back on the book, I realize that it really did not appeal to me. I'm not saying this because I did not care for it, but because novels about the military can lose and confuse me at times. When I read Pat Frank's book, I knew only a few of the combative terms used, and that was due to a project I did last year.
    Still, I cannot reflect negatively on some parts of the three-hundred-sixteen-page literary work Mr. Frank has composed. His attempt to entice readers with love, mystery, and justice did not go in vain. Pat was able to accommodate many different point-of-views into one, well functioning plot. Slowly, elements combined to keep the story in motion.
    Through a seemingly predicable plot, there were actions that caught me by surprise. I wasn't prepared for Edgar Quisenberry, the bank president, to commit suicide. The author's way of leading up to that event made it seem so sudden, so unforeseen.
    Unfortunately, like a dying light bulb, the story's plot flickered, leaving you bored and in the dark. I cannot honestly say that every single page was slow, but the author showed a lack of ability to keep up with a fast rhythm. One event that illustrates my point is the part where Randy and other men are in the grocery truck about to kill the highwaymen. This part, where the reader would expect fast and witty action, was instead written with a quick `bang-bang-it's-all-over' sequence.
    So what can be left to say about this 1959 book from author Pat Frank? Even as I hold Alas, Babylon in my hand, I cannot help but remember a slow beginning, a somewhat bearable plot, and a most predictable ending. ...more info
  • A Book For All Time
    This is on of the best books of all time. The plot is well thought out and developed, the characters are realistic and the well rounded, and the details are fantastic. I read this book as a child, college student, and as an adult. Each time it was entertaining and gave the feeling that it was written today.
    This is a collector's item that is always good for re-reading on a cold rainy day....more info
  • memorable
    Just today I recommended this title to a patron in my small rural library in North-Central, Florida. My patron is a relative newcomber to the area and I wanted to show him this vivid portrayal of life in pre-Disney, "cracker-country" Florida.

    Fort Repose was modeled after my hometown, so I always felt a unique connection to the book. I have actually purchased and given away at least a dozen copies of this book over the years and it is one novel, like To Kill A Mockingbird, which is as compelling on the tenth reading as it was on the first.

    It's a story of life, love, devastation, loss, renewal and hope; there is never a note of cynicism or doubt in our purpose. I keep hoping some Hollywood visionary, ala, Howard, Clooney or Spielberg will find this treasure and adapt it to the big screen. ...more info
  • A Classic
    It is incredible how things can change so drastically from one instant to the next. Such was the case in the book by Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon. When the bomb hit the people, the few survivors confronted a chaotic situation where only the strong and capable were able to remain alive. The challengers they endured were many, but I would focus on the three specific ones that impressed me the most: the necessity of obtaining food to survive in daily basis; the dangers of a community where the law was nonexistent; and the adaptation of a life no longer comfortable where everyone with the desire to survive had to deal with physical labor.

    In summary, there are many lessons we can profit from Alas, Babylon. I personally would like to start by preparing better for catastrophic situations. Food and storage should be of a concern to everyone. Even if we never get to use our supplies, the peace of mind of knowing that we are prepare will be worth the effort. Also, I would like to learn more about government and leadership. It's not a coincidence that Randy spent years of his life studying books and participating in governmental issues. Yes, he was a good man; but he was also prepared. Finally, there are many skills I could learn that would be helpful in a disastrous situation. Yes, Alas, Babylon! was a great read.

    ...more info
  • If you want to understand the "Cold War," read this book.
    My first knowledge of this book was via a television dramatization when I was about 10 years old, circa 1960. It both enthralled and frightened me. Later, as a teenager, I read the book, and was again enthralled and frightened, but also comforted, for the book has - in a sense - a "happy" ending.

    The threat of nuclear war waxes and wanes in the public imagination, and - for now - has perhaps been supplanted in the apocalyptic imagination by such threats as Islamic terrorism and global warming. But if the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs continue apace, the threat of nuclear annihilation might once again capture the public's imagination.

    "Alas, Babylon" takes us back to the 1950s and the Cold War, to a world in which the threat of nuclear war was very much on the minds of the average person. And the war - full-scale nuclear war - happened. Entire cities, even entire states, were wiped out or became uninhabitable. We are left with some of the survivors.

    They are in Florida, just out of the dead zones. Modern civilization is mostly over; we have martial law, no law, the law imposed by the man who happens to have a gun.

    There are runs on essential goods, banks close, money is worthless - $100 won't buy a box of salt. Light bulbs? Who needs them? The power plant is gone. Not out of service - gone.

    But in rural Florida, people begin to regroup, to save the last vestiges of civilization. This book is their story. The only good news is that this is not the end of the world, just the end of the world as we knew it. Life goes on....more info
  • Always a good read
    Alas Babylon is a classic Advanced Placement Literature choice for my students. It deals with life after a nuclear attack and the reader is confronted with modern man in a primitive state. My students like it because it is a "page turner" and captures their interest while forcing them to think deeply. This topic is always timely and is a good companion to other "end-of-the-world" texts....more info
  • highly interesting post-apocalyptic novel
    Read this off my pre - 10th grader's summer reading list. I had not heard of it. It was written in 1959, and yet much of it still is pertinent to the world we live in, were there to be a nuclear attack. It mostly covers a post-apocalyptic scenario in a small town in Florida. I liked the characters. It kept my interest the whole way through; I read it in one day. I don't know how readers who are in high school would enjoy it, it depends on their general knowledge level and reading interest.

    To anyone who has not heard of it, I would recommend it. I didn't want it to end. I am looking for more novels of this genre now that I have read this.

    ...more info
  • Alas Babylon by Pat Frank: Edited for easy, enjoyable reading
    This is a well-written and edited book. Author Pat Frank holds your interest with his conversational style. He paints a good picture with his words making one feel they are actually in each particular scene. I purchased this book when I learned that although written in 1959 during the Cold War, the events then and now including nuclear threats, are hauntingly similar....more info
  • You mean we actually won?
    Before you read this book, you need to re-aquaint yourself with the US of 1959. If you don't remember that time, you have to read up on it to understand that women still wore white gloves, TV was coming into it's own, people feared the USSR because of Sputnik; computers, Ipods, the internet, ATMs, Vietnam, were all still to come.

    Frank has written a fabulous account of how 'everyday people' would have had to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear exchange.
    A good part of the country is contaminated, almost every major city is gone, as is most of the governmental infra-structure. It's not a polyanna world, and it's not a 'Road Warrior' hell. It's people surviving day to day.

    It is the most amazingly dull world, no cars, no radio, no electricity; back to rural life in the eighteenth century. The ending is not the least pedantic...the little town gets visited by part of the surviving military. When asked, 'Who won?', the officer in charge answers, 'we clobbered 'em'. Right, you should see the other guy....more info

 

 
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