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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could This Be A Survival Manual for the Post-Apocalypse?
When I was an impressionable young girl of 14, my then boyfriend at the time insisted I read Alas, Babylon, saying that he felt a nuclear conflict was not only possible, but inevitable. Of course, this was in the late Seventies and the Cold War was still all about 'arming for peace'. Knowing there was a distinct possibility that one day I might have to face a full-on...
Published on March 1 2004

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting story, definitely makes you think
I had to read this book last year for my English class. It's about a small town in Florida watching a nuclear war take place around them. Overall I'd say it's a pretty interesting book, but if given the choice, I would've picked other books to read instead. If you like sci-fi novels about nuclear war, give it a shot. Otherwise, keep looking...there are other books out...
Published on Nov. 16 2003 by Christine Ricks


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could This Be A Survival Manual for the Post-Apocalypse?, March 1 2004
By A Customer
When I was an impressionable young girl of 14, my then boyfriend at the time insisted I read Alas, Babylon, saying that he felt a nuclear conflict was not only possible, but inevitable. Of course, this was in the late Seventies and the Cold War was still all about 'arming for peace'. Knowing there was a distinct possibility that one day I might have to face a full-on nuclear disaster, I found that Alas, Babylon rang so true to me that it haunted me for years. I have moved all over the country and halfway across the world, and my battered old copy of this fantastic novel has come with me. Well, my impressionable years are behind me, but the impact of Alas Babylon's vision of how folks in a small Southern town would react to a nuclear halocaust is still as strong. I read it just the other day and was again struck by it's vivid, disturbing descriptions of not only the horror of watching your world literally blowing up around you, but also the grisly task of how to survive it. Yes, it's military Cold War jargon and it's prickly talk of racism and segregation give it a slightly dated feel; but if the bomb drops tomorrow, and I'm alive, I can only hope my copy of Alas, Babylon survives with me. It may just safe my life...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, June 4 2004
By 
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original 1950's Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Feb. 18 2013
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
Randy Bragg is living an unspectacular late 1950's existence in well-named Fort Repose, Florida. Things begin to change when he is contacted by his brother Mark, an Air Force Colonel. Mark uses their long-standing code for trouble, a phrase from the Book of Revelations. Mark explains that war is imminent, and leaves his family with Randy for safekeeping. His predictions prove accurate. The brief nuclear exchange that follows swallows Mark and a large proportion of the country's population. It leaves Fort Repose in the middle of a radiation-free zone, safe but cut off from the outside.

Much of what follows has since become standard in "after the big war" stories. Randy and his community cope with the absence of civilization. As electricity fails, they use candles for light and fire for cooking. As canned food supplies dwindle, they rediscover fishing, hunting and planting. They learn to repair, then make simple tools like bows and arrows that are now needed to survive. Many authors have covered this ground, but Pat Frank was one of the first. And he does it well.

What sets this story apart is the focus on people. We see contrast between the town's banker, who cannot adjust to a world without money, and other Fort Repose citizens who form a working barter economy. Some former neighbors steal from each other, while others become closer--cooperating to catch fish, find a new source of salt, and even have community social gatherings. Randy emerges as a leader, organizing use of community resources, access to medical care, and defense against marauding outlaws.

The book also explores subtle currents in the relationships between its characters. Randy's sister-in-law Helen, for example, has to deal with the attachment she forms to Randy. Although this attachment is more domestic than romantic, it complicates Randy's growing romance with his neighbor, Lib McGovern. These explorations of personal and community relationships set the book apart from more traditional post-war science fiction of this time, such as Earth Abides. Readers who enjoy this human element will recognize similar themes in the darker On the Beach by Nevil Shute. There are also elements of post-disaster community-building in John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids. Pat Frank's book has a strong dose of both.

This book his highly recommended to fans of post-apocalyptic science fiction, students of 1950's opinions about surviving nuclear war, and readers who simply enjoy a good story with interesting characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a unique view, Aug. 6 2003
By 
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
I had heard a lot of commotion surrounding this book but as it had been phased out of my high school's required reading it was not until after my first year of college that I read it. For me the cold war was ancient history, I'm 20 and I grew up with America's superiority a for gone conclusion and no understanding of the trauma of that period in American history.
While I expected "Alas, Babylon" to be an interesting, if out dated and tedious work, I gave it a try simply to see what all the fuss was about. Boy was I wrong to ever think this book could be anything but provocative.
Written in a attention catching style that makes even dismantled organizations like SAC seem relevant, this book portrays a plausible "what if?" to the cold war question.
The main character Randy Bragg, an aimless lawyer, epitomizes the unique and yet connectable characters that are seen throughout this book. From the librarian who only feels alive after the rest of the world has fallen into nuclear disarray to the young children that are faced with knowing of their father's imminent death.
This compelling story of an accidental war between the US and the U.S.S.R is shown in an almost unbiased light. The characters take almost a back seat the interesting points made by the author. Such as; what would happen to the world power structure if its two most prominent players were suddenly thrust into third world status? Who would govern the country if Washington was attacked and nearly every public official were killed?
Written over forty years ago "Alas Babylon" had me wondering what I would do in each character's situation. From the fact that I lived in Abilene, TX (one of the towns mentioned as destroyed), to the fact that I had never realized just how important things like salt are.
Give this book a try. It might require an inquiry into some history books for explanations to things like what exactly SAC is, it is well worth it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost too good . . . ., June 12 2004
By 
Daniel Waitkoss (St. Charles, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
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!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could This Be A Survival Manual for the Post-Apocalypse?, March 1 2004
By A Customer
When I was an impressionable young girl of 14, my then boyfriend insisted I read Alas, Babylon, saying that he felt a nuclear conflict was not only possible, but inevitable. Of course, this was in the late Seventies and the Cold War was still all about 'arming for peace'. Knowing there was a distinct possibility that one day I might have to face a full-on nuclear disaster, I found that Alas, Babylon rang so true to me that it haunted me for years. The only other novel I have read that gave me such a chill was Stephen King's The Stand, a book that I also love - and I'd bet the rent money that Mr. King has also read Alas Babylon; there are too many coincidences for me to believe otherwise.
Alas Babylon tells the tale of a family preparing for, experiencing and then surviving a nuclear war in the mid 1950's. The characters are well-rounded and multi-dimensional; the situations realistic and haunting, and everytime I read it, I'm caught up again in the thrill of fear of hearing that first bomb drop - something I pray I will never have to actually experience. I have moved all over the country and halfway across the world, and my battered old copy of this fantastic novel has come with me. Well, my impressionable years are behind me, but the impact of Alas Babylon's vision of how folks in a small Southern town would react to a nuclear halocaust is still as strong. I read it just the other day and was again struck by it's vivid, disturbing descriptions of not only the horror of watching your world literally blowing up around you, but also the grisly task of how to survive it. Yes, it's military Cold War jargon and it's prickly talk of racism and segregation give it a slightly dated feel; but if the bomb drops tomorrow, and I'm alive, I can only hope my copy of Alas, Babylon survives with me. It may just safe my life...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic although dated story of nuclear holocaust, Jan. 1 2004
By 
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
This book is a superb look at what a nuclear war might have been like had it occurred in the late 1950s. Although some of the weapons issues that the book discusses are now dated (the book features a pretty good discussion of the missile-versus-bomber issue that was very real in the late '50s but which is now passe) in my opinion this detracts not at all from the novel's relevance. This is a gritty, hard-hitting novel about what life might have been like had mankind not managed to avoid nuclear conflict during the bad old days of the Cold War. Nuclear weapons are still around in abundance, and this book is still worth reading, and it is an enjoyable read that I personally found impossible to put down.
The story is set in a small Florda town that manages to be outside any of the blast or target zones. The novel begins prior to the outbreak of nuclear conflict, and takes us through it to its aftermath--an aftermath of anarchy, hardship, and economic chaos, as the agricultural and economic back of the country are broken, and perhaps a majority of Americans are dead, in common with people in many parts of the world. This could have happened and still could. This stark fact is what makes this novel as relevant today as it ever was, despite some of the dated military-political issues that it occasionally discusses.
The book does show the citizens of this small town surviving with dignity and even some optimism. But it never lets us forget that a nuclear war would be a catastrophe for mankind. Although we have dodged this bullet so far, surely current events show that we cannot be complacent, and books like this are as important as ever.
A good novel that I recommend to everyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, Innocent look at nuclear war, Dec 28 2003
By 
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
This classic was written for two purposes: (1) A dire warning against nuclear war and (2) A morality tale of hope, goodness and survival. Everyone is immediately drawn to this book because of its downhome familiarity and avoidance of central issues that would arise in a nuclear holocaust. It doesn't really matter that the aftermath is a lot more hopeful than what would actually occur, or that people could really thrive and carry on after such a disaster.
What's important - and this is the essence of literary license - is that Frank has made this story so immediate and so gripping and (most important) imbued it with such hope that one forgets the inaccuracies and unrealistic optimism. This is also a romance between the hero and his gal involving old girlfriend, another woman, a dead husband and all the accompanying sparks that necessarily fly. It is rated a clear "G" and literally sings of a new Earth with all races and all peoples working hand in hand to rebuild. A clear winner and one that is as popular with the young as it is the "mature".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Disaster Classic!, Nov. 8 2003
By 
Kevin Spoering (Buffalo, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
Written by Pat Frank (a.k.a. Harry Hart) in the late 1950's at the height of the cold war, this novel illustrates the terror of nuclear war and the struggle for survival in it's aftermath. The story centers around a small town in central Florida and how the inhabitants cope with shortages of almost everything, as trade and commerce break down following a nuclear war. The characters are fully formed and believeable and the words flow off the pages in an easy to read style. Being written about 45 years ago, this book does reflect the fears, and technology, of it's time. For example, Soviet submarines had to move close to our shores before they fired their missiles, today's longer ranged missiles don't require that, and there are references to long ago retired B-47 and B-58 bombers, etc.. Also, racial prejudices are evident in this novel, as segregation was still active in the southern U.S. in the 1950's, by no means am I saying that Pat Frank is a racist, he was not condoning it, in fact, quite the opposite. All of this gives this novel an interesting historical flair, kind of like stepping back into the 50's as you read this book, a fascinating perspective indeed.
This book is one of the classic "end of the world as we know it" novels, well worth reading and hard to put down at times. The trials and tribulations the survivors went through, and their triumphs, are amazing, it is a timeless story. If you like these types of novels two other books of this genre that I liked are EARTH ABIDES by George Stewart, and THE POSTMAN, by David Brin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If there's one book I could make everyone read..., Oct. 18 2003
This review is from: Alas Babylon (Paperback)
I first read this in ninth grade English II. I loved it then and still do. Having read all the negative reviews, I can see some of the reviewers' points: a little slow, poor military references, and outdated.
As for the claim of its outdatedness, I can see how it could be seen that way, but I think that if you read it with the right mindset it applies to everyone living in troubled times. Post 9/11, it's easy for me to connect better than ever to the earlier parts of the book, the idea of going on with everyday life but always feeling the turmoil of the world around you.
Some reviewers mentioned Pat Frank's not-very-clear descriptions of the military state of the world. Others understood them but claimed that they weren't totally logical. I don't think it really matters. If you totally forget that part and just look at the situation and how the characters deal with it, you can easily understand Frank's message in the book.
And finally, the most common complaint was that the story progressed too slowly and didn't have enough suspense. I think that would have ruined it, personally. The slow pace gives you time to get to know the characters and setting. While it's not edge-of-your-seat, white-knuckled whirlwind activity like "The Sum of All Fears," or similar films/books, the pace is plenty quick enough to keep you interested. Unlike most suspense novels, "Alas, Babylon" was written to convey a message, not to entertain.
And it certainly does succeed with its message. "Alas, Babylon" is proof that human resourcefulness and determination can withstand anything other men may send their way. It's about keeping up hope, even in times when children say "If I grow up...," it's about finding happiness in simple things, and most of all it's about holding on to your family and friends, no matter what race they are, can help pull you through.
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Alas Babylon
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank (Paperback - June 16 2005)
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