countdown boutiques-francophones Learn more scflyout Pets All-New Kindle Music Deals Store sports Tools Registry

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on May 1, 2007
Earth Abides is not a typical post-apocalyptic novel. It doesn't present a world of mutants, giant cockroaches or bands of marauders. It simply shows the slow and inevitable decay of man and all his works, in the teeth of attempts by the protagonist to restore the old ways of civilization. In that it succeeds beautifully and shows us the grandeur of our world and the majesty of what we have wrought...then compares it to the greater majesty of nature and the eternal gaze of time. The novel works best as a family drama, more Swiss Family Robinson than Mad Max, and has no sensational adventures to offer other than the daily tribulations of life. For man may be a great creature, but he is still small and the world doesn't really need him at all...

Earth Abides is the most meditative and serene post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read, and it's recommended for more thoughtful readers who won't be easily bored.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 9, 2016
I read this 50 years ago when I was 13, and it's still a timely, thoughtful, relevant, well-written book -- yet also reflects the period and the science of its time (1949). Elegaic passages are truly beautiful
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 16, 2001
"Men come and go, but Earth abides." These chilling words written by George R. Stewart leave the reader feeling bare and stripped in the popular science fiction novel "Earth Abides." A novel I read and still can't decide what to think about it.
This book is filled with puzzling situations, frustrating moments, and mind-bending problems that make the reader ask, "What would I do?"
Plague has struck the world, and people are dying by the millions. A lone survivor, Ish, on a mountain camping trip manages to fend off the disease with snakebite. He returns to a frozen, empty world, and is determined to find civilization and life in the seemingly dead planet. Most of the people he meets are in shock, having seen the horrors of death and destruction of the planet and are stupefied, unable to talk sense or even take care of themselves. One man Ish comes across is drinking himself to death; only eating things out of cans and seems only half-alive. Through his journey's, Ish has a growing urge to settle down and establish life as he knew it again. He alone must save the human race.
I thought this book was very interesting, at first. The beginning was intriguing and exciting to think about. But after a while, the idea became old, and boring. Ish just begins to muse over the world's pathetic state, talk about how he's the only intelligent person left, and even starts to become a little snobbish to say the least. The way women were used merely as wombs, though logical in such a situation, got a little annoying also. The detail and wordiness left my mind to wonder away from the book, and I even recall something as simple as a storm drain overflowing taking up two pages to talk about. Ish's endless attempts to get people to think and work for themselves also become a bit momentous and bothersome. It really makes you want to slowly go crazy along with Ish, as you read his "bible", page after page of musing nonsense. I really wanted to tell him to start enjoying life and give up on trying to control everyone's thoughts and actions, just to let things go. But there were moments of truly beautiful writing and raw honesty that drew me out of the droning slump. When Ish finds something to believe in, though, it was really disappointing to have it destroyed so suddenly. Ish becomes so obsessed with saving the world, he becomes very self righteous and stuck up, he transforms from a hero into someone you are sick of and increasingly angry with. The author looses his grip on the story and turns the book into a guide of what to do if you find out the world's population has come to an end, and it's up to you, being the only truly sane and intelligent person, to save the planet. The character's personalities fade, and you are left with a bunch of names and occasional dialogue.
The novel begins with a bang, and ends with a whimper, which makes the reader want to whine as well. It was not something I'd want loved ones to read, but I would highly recommend the first two hundred pages, and then move on to something else. The people who say they truly enjoyed this book through and through, in my opinion, are liars. It's a thoughtfully written piece, and deserves the recognition it receives, but if you are looking to be entertained, find another book, "Earth Abides" will leave you out in the cold.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 4, 2004
George R. Stewart's "Earth Abides" was written in 1949, so of course there are some anachronisms that occasionally jolt the reader. The Giants play at the Polo Grounds and the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. There are no interstate highways and radios all have vacuum tubes.
These minor historical curiosities aside, what truly amazes is the timeless of Stewart's story. How many science fiction novels from 1949 still rate the glowing reviews of "Earth Abides" you will find here? By comparison so many modern sci-fi stories are formulaic, written with short, choppy sentences, shallow characters, and action sequences ready made for transfer to the screen.
Stewart's vision of the future, where education and especially reading, slowly fad away after an apocalypse applies more to today's world than that of his own. His characters have little ability to bring back the technological remnants of the dead world, and truly, if 99% of the people on the planet were to disappear how many of us have the skills to keep the power going, the water flowing, and automobiles running decades after the disaster? His characters adapt to their environment in the most natural way.
In the nearly four decades I have been reading books this is one of a handful that has made a memorable impression and which I consistently continue to recommend.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 27, 2001
The idea of an apocalyptic end of our planet and of humankind has always been extremely prevalent in society. From religion to movies, theories of annihilation can be found everywhere. But few books attempt to tackle the subject of life after the end. I think George Stewart wrote this book in the 60's and I wanted to see what his ideas were on that subject. The premise was great, but I was extremely disappointed with Earth Abides because Stewart brings in many themes/ideas but never goes into any of them in any detail whatsoever. There is absolutely no emotional connection with any of the characters,and even less so with Ish, the main character. I felt like I was waiting for something to happen throughout the book, and it never came. The author attempts to tackle way too many "big" subjects at the same time, and in the end,he fails. The only reason I gave this book even one star is because the reader can learn about how the world may deteriorate in the future when man is no longer here.One could say that that is a positive thing.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 26, 1999
George R. Stewart weaves at once a beautiful and hauntingly believable tale with this novel, one that I've never been able to forget...or wanted to. Once considered dated, with the lessening of global nuclear tensions, the scenario Mr. Stewart envisions for a possible worldwide catastrophe, one brought about not by bombs but disease, has once again come to the forefront and become the most plausible ingredient in mankind's demise. More even than the fact that this is a truly enjoyable read is the deeper message Earth Abides shares with the reader as it reaches down and touches our very hearts, defining what it means to be human in an inhuman environment. The symbolism involved in Isherwood Williams' desire to keep a hammer with him for the future as a tie to the past is obviously an unconscious comment on his personal hope of rebuilding a fallen civilization. A hope that goes unfulfilled in his life time and maybe many lifetimes to follow. The insight into the human psyche that Mr. Stewart demonstates as he carries Isherwood from his youth at the beginning of the book to old age and finally death at the end and Isherwood's subtle change of attitude during that process, rings exceedingly true and speaks volumes about Mr. Stewart's keen and perhaps unique ability to put into words what it really means, or at least should mean, to be human. I've rarely read a book more than once because I just don't have the time, but I've read Earth Abides several times since I was a teen and I know I'll read it several more times before I too reach that stage in my life that Isherwood assures us won't be the calamity our youth oriented culture would have us to believe.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 25, 2000
Having loved this story 20 years ago as a teenager, it pains me now to find that it is surely the worst novel on my bookshelves. All the characters are two-dimensional. The dialogue is uniformly stiff and amateurish. The story's hero is arrogant, aloof and dismissive of anyone he perceives as inferior. Since he actually perceives *everyone* as inferior, the book quickly becomes very tiresome. Perhaps the saddest aspect of "Earth Abides" is that the story is clearly and shockingly the fantasy of someone who dreamed of existing in a world without people, or at most with just a thin sprinkling of simple folks over whom he could rule as their intellectual master. "Earth Abides" is a truly awful book.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Earth Abides, written in 1949, tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its "rebirth". It is actually three books in one: the disintegration of the world, the establishment of a new collective culture, and the moral weights of leadership. I initially read it as a post-apocalyptic novel and was rewarded with a philosophical treatise on the loss of a way of life and the dangers of man oversimplifying himself. The development of the tiny band's subsequent generations is more terrifying than a plague wiping out the planet. It is a story of 'what man wrought' but not in the way one anticipates. Originally classified a "science fiction" novel, now, with time, it must be categorized as literature.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 18, 2013
Isherwood Williams is away in the mountains pursuing his graduate field studies in geology. In our iPhone, instant connectivity world it is hard to imagine the isolation this kind of trip entailed in the 1950's when George Stewart wrote his book. Recovering from a snake bite, Ish stumbles back from the hills to find most of humanity wiped out by disease. We follow Ish through the remainder of his life as he comes to terms with a changing Earth--an Earth on which humanity is a barely noticeable presence.

The absence of humanity is not only a stark fact, but is emphasized by the author's writing style. Ish is a clear introvert and we experience much of the Earth's change through his internal monologue. Even when he encounters, interacts with, and teams up with other people, this produces very little dialogue. This style underscores the aloneness of the book's characters. It's not loneliness, in the emotional sense, but a continuing reminder that other people no longer play a significant role in the world.

The Earth itself becomes an evolving character in the book. We experience the successive rise and fall in populations of insects, rats, dogs and other species as seasons in the Earth's changing life. The diminishing resources scavenged by human beings from cities and storehouses are important to their survival, but also serve as markers of change as the Earth sheds the thin layers of Man's influence. This change is not progress, nor is it overly mourned as decline. It is thoroughly described and documented as inevitable change. Ish observes it and reacts to it. But neither he nor the other characters influence its path or pace.

Read and compare this book with two other classics of post-Apocalyptic fiction: Alas, Babylon and The Day of the Triffids. These works also follow their characters through crises, scavenging, and attempts to preserve the technology and civilization of the past. They are both more optimistic and more social in narrative style and in the strategies followed by their characters. After reading them, return to Earth Abides and appreciate it for the melancholy and aloneness felt by both its characters and its readers. It is a good story, a moving experience, and a skillful integration of message and writing style.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 1, 2004
The premise of this novel is that mankind suddenly experiences a biological holocaust in the form of a new disease--a form of super-measles that wipes out all but a tiny remnant of mankind. The author explains that "mankind had too long been rolling an endless succession of sevens" and that like all animals that had multiplied out of turn, the sudden catastrophe was inevitable to set the balance back to what nature intended. This novel tells the story of a very small group of survivors, and suggests what life would be like under in the aftermath, and perhaps, more profoundly, what such a scenario might mean for mankind.
The author's premise is that little or nothing of civilization would survive such an event. In the story **very minor spoiler** although the survivors make attempts at preserving the skills and lessons of civilization, this eventually becomes impossible against the tide of events sweeping mankind back not just to barbarism (in which some skills and beliefs might have survived) but to downright savagery and superstition. The most profound thought that the author successfully imparts is that all of the traditions, skills, and manifestations of our civilization could--and would--be lost in a single generation. Unforgettable is when one of the characters in the story looks out at the ruins of the San Francisco Bay Bridge (before it too passes away) and asks--"who built this." The protagonist thinks for a second and answers: "the Americans built it." The next question is "who were the Americans?" I have never forgotten this exchange, which I felt illustrated brilliantly how important it is for one generation to impart the best ideas of civilization to the next, and how easily all our achievements and successes might be lost in the face of a global catastrophe.
The reader need not and probably will not agree with all of the author's conclusions about what would happen in this scenario. Would we really lose the skill of a written language? Would we really fall all the way back almost to the Old Stone Age? The author will challenge the reader's own thoughts on this subject, and that is fine. One need not agree with all of the conclusions that the novel contains to enjoy this story.
Although written many years ago, upon re-reading this novel recently I found that it had lost little or none of its impact or relevance. It features a bit more prudishness than a modern novel might contain, but in my opinion is none the worse for this. The story is well-told, the prose is quite good, and the storyline moves along all the while capturing and retaining the reader's interest. This is a novel that I would recommend to everyone.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items