This book was written in 1959 during the Cold War era. In this scenario, the Soviet Union actually launches missles at the U. S., destroying most of the east coast and all major cities. This is the story of how a little community in Florida that managed to stay uncontaminated, learns how to survive without electricity, city water, grocery stores, medicine, gasoline and many other conveniences of modern civilization. I give it a 10 because I didn't want to put it down once I had started it.
I read Alas Babylon and thought my how things change. Comparing it to todays' doomsday books (The Road, In the Country of Lost Things, Zombie Survival Guide, etc), this book actually believed we could rise above our baser instincts and pull together to survive. Heck, they even seemed to improve their life being isolated like that, and naturally the commies started it but we won so that's a "plus". I have a remembrance of the whole bunker mentality, the duck and cover school drills. I found it interesting that the author decided to make it a livable existence if not even idyllic in the long run. Whereas, a few generations removed, it seems that today, everybody assumes the world will end but those that survive will be cave dwelling, isolationists bent on fearing what they don't know and killing what they do. I know that this book was a turn around OPEN YOUR EYES breakthrough at the time and I guess as long as there are people walking the planet, there will be fear of the unknown BOOM that takes it all away. But this fella actually made me kind of wish I lived in the surviving community
WHAT an amazing book. It was written in like, 1959 I think, but so applicable for today! Great character development- and looks at the idea of how would people survive if we were hit with a nuclear bomb? I am not a sci-fi person, but this is awesome! Doesn't 'come off' like a sci-fi, but just a really good book looking at survival.
Alas, Babylon first issued in 1959 was a well written scare piece. It seems just as scary today as it did then. NY Herald Tribune says "A warm, continuously interesting story of what can happen to a group of ordinary people in a perilous situation."
As a basically morbid and paranoid person, I quite enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction. I'm happy to report that Alas, Babylon, one of the first books in the genre, did not disappoint.
The book centers around Fort Repose, a Florida community that manages to survive after a nuclear attack wipes out much of the United States. Specifically it centers on Randy Bragg and his family and neighbors as they try to live and thrive against all odds. I enjoyed reading about the problems and solutions they faced -- Are armadillos edible? How to get more salt? What do we trade when money is worthless? -- and would have welcomed even more details.
I see moments inspired by Alas, Babylon in many modern-day dystopian and post-apocalyptic works, from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica to S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire and beyond.
I notice many negative reviews of this book center around its supposed racism and sexism. Perhaps those reviewers overlooked the fact that this book was originally published in 1959, and for its time, seemed to be remarkably progressive. White characters and black characters work side-by-side, as equals. A female cabinet member becomes Chief Executive of what's left of the USA. If women seem to swoon more than realistically plausable and the N-word is bandied about quite frequently... well, 1959 was still 1959.
This book seriously changed the way I think about resources and sustainability. I read this in 11th grade. Though the threat of Russia bombing us into the dark ages is in our past, it is still good to think, "How would I do this off the grid?" I found this book (which was not on my reading list) much more thought provoking than A Brave New World. I think teachers should consider using it in classrooms.
A brilliant look at the world after nuclear holocaust. The denizens of a small Florida town, forewarned of the impending disaster, pull together to survive when they are cut off from the rest of the country. Particularly interesting because of when it when it was written - the 1950's - and how the true fear of the Bomb comes through from that era. Still, the story feels timeless and seems utterly relevant to today.
I enjoyed this book very much. Although it was written several decades ago I found the storyline fresh and very relevant to today. I highly recommend the book for readers who enjoy a good adventure story and especially those interested in post war stories.
I've been reading this book non-stop whenever time allowed. It is terrific. It is ageless. It is terrifying. Hard to believe it was written in the 1950's. Wonderful. Wonderful! As you can tell, I just loved this book.
Originally published in 1959, I first read this book as a Florida High School student in 1962. This was right after the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. I remember flights of military planes flying south and the reports of US Army build-up on the Florida Keys. "Alas Babylon" could have happened at that point in real life. The book covers a time in central Florida when Atomic Bombs were dropped on Major US cities. The characters could see the cloud of the one dropped on Jacksonville and knew of Miami and Atlanta being bombed. This is the story of their life during a short few years after the bombs dropped. It still has a poignant plot that can be assigned to todays turmoil. A really good read.
This book really made me think about how hard things would/could be if for some reason our society and government ceased to exist or function. This is something I've been pondering for years anyway, but it was nice to read one author's thoughts along the same line. He put in ideas I hadn't thought of which made me think more. Since this book was written a while ago, there are even more things to think of now. If we were to lose our power and infrastructure, how many of us technologically dependent people would know how to survive, to hunt, to grow things, to do any of the things that would enable us to continue living? Rather a daunting thought.
Although this story is much less dire than "On the Beach", it still brings home the reality of a potential nuclear war, as residents in a small town in Florida look for ways to survive in their new life without electricity or other modern conveniences and while trying to stay clear of radiation and contaminated materials. Highly recommended.
Could you survive without food or water, light, power or transportation, while completely surrounded by deadly radiation? Would you react with helpless, trembling paralysis? Or would you have the courage and ingenuity to invent a new way of life. Could you surve an H-Bomb attack as the people in this novel do?
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if a war came to our own country? This is Pat Frank's classic look at life in the US after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union back in the sixties. Should be on the reading list of anyone who likes excellent science fiction or alternative history.
I liked this book, the kind of book I am preferring these days. Except for cookbooks that is. Seemed to be pretty ok on how to be creative to survive. Don't think folks will be there in the nick of time in the real world to discover we have made it or be lucky enough to be in a 'safe'zone. Still a good read and not littered with sex like so many things are these days.
I think I'd rate this book as "pretty good". Not the best post-apocalypse book I've ever read, but not the worst either. It seems to give a pretty realistic view of the world after an atomic attack from Russia, though there are some bits of "dues ex machina" - e.g. the solution to needing salt and how they find other supplies. It was interesting and taught me a few things about radiation that I didn't know. Overall, an easy quick read if you like post-apocalype books. I still liked I Am Legend and The Cell better though.
I can't recommend this highly enough for the Post-apocalyptic genre fans. It is not all that smoothly written but well enough to serve its story. It is a classic in the PA world and just about required reading for this type of fiction. I will not list any spoilers as post-apocalyptic says it all.
Set in a small Florida town immediately before and after a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, 'Alas, Babylon' reminds me quite a bit of 'Retrieved from the Future' by John Seymour, in that it is a contrivance to allow the characters to demonstrate what is lost when civilization crumbles and how life can go on using pre-industrial methods and knowledge. If you are looking for gritty, violent action, you will not find it here. While there is some life and death action in the story, it is fairly subdued, I think due to the time of its publication - 1959. It was published in a time of war for the US, after the Korean War and in the early days of the Vietnam conflict, and it reflects a seeming weariness among readers for violence. The struggle is there, but this is firmly a tale designed to show how life could continue after a nuclear holocaust. Racial tension is dealt with in the story fairly ably given the time in history that produced it, but the strong gender roles make it feel a bit like Leave it to Beaver from time to time. Worth reading in its own right, but also as a study in historical perspective.
Although copyrighted in 1959 this book is still a very good story of survival and dealing with a breakdown of normal life conditions. Even though it is a fictional town, it is set in central Florida which made it interesting to me due to the fact I also live in central Florida. Highly recommend this book if you enjoy the survival fiction genre like Robinson Crusoe that deals with disaster recovery.
There are two ways to review Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon." The first, as literature, would result in perhaps a 3-star rating: readable, but little in the way of verbal finesse or sophisticated character development. At least half-a-star of that would be for its accurate depiction of the attitudes (political, racial, gender) of a late 1950s small town in Florida.
The second way to approach "Alas, Babylon," and the one that results in my 5-star rating is as a faux-documentary, expertly designed to scare the Living Bejaysus out of you. Frank wasn't aiming for clever writing, or poetic imagery, or complicated narrative -- you could say that the text itself is a metaphor for his thesis, that in the aftermath of nuclear devastation of the kind he describes, the clever sophistications of life will mean nothing. Survival will depend, to a great extent, on luck -- the luck of your location, the luck of the community that surrounds you, and the luck of each individuals willingness to adapt, and let go of comfortable assumptions.
Supposedly, in the past year or so, the question has been asked, "If we have nuclear weapons why can't we use them?" I wish the person who asked that question would read this book, He won't, of course. Which is why Pat Frank's tightly written, almost journalistic vision of the aftermath resonates -- and should terrify us all -- as much as it did when he first wrote it.
Reference to the words Alas Babylon can be found in The King James Bible, Revelations chapter 18, verses 9 & 10: as follows: 9)And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, 10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Alas, Babylon tells a riveting story of a massive nuclear attack and how a small community of people in Florida survives when millions of others perish. What makes this book chilling is that it was written in 1959 at the height of the former Cold War. In the book, the Russians are the perpetrators of this apocalyptic event and, oh, gee, it is the Russians who are currently alleged to be behind serious hacking charges and meddling in America. Randy Bragg is a young man living on the family estate in Fort Repose, FL. His older brother, Mark, is an officer high up in the US government and privvy to information indicating that a nuclear attack is imment. He sends his wife, Helen, and kids from Nebraska to live with Randy, along with money and instructions to prepare as best he can in the short time left to them. Randy takes the warning seriously and stocks up on nonperishable food and other goods that will not be available from that point on. On the morning of "The Day" the Braggs, along with several close community members/friends, witness the end of their way of life for the foreseeable future in the form of several nuclear mushroom clouds indicating the obliteration of various military bases around Florida. The community of Fort Repose is cut off from the rest of the world as radio goes permanently off the air, electricity, running water and essentially modern civilization dies. Although this story is set in the late 50s, it shows that no matter the era, in a catastrophe, people behave according to their gifts and natures, from giving all to save family/mankind to becoming absolutely degenerate monsters.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. What I enjoy most about this book is the ingenuity demonstrated as people learn or rediscover ways and means of survival. I read these kinds of stories, not to scare myself (which does happen when I see where the world political picture is heading presently) but to learn things I may not know that will help me survive a catastrophe.
"Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. 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.
Read this as a teenager and it and On the Beach scarred me witless. Rereading it now, I thoroughly enjoy it. Survival like the excellent tv series Jericho or the unabridged Robinson Crusoe. A very good read!