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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway (older book): Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

How well would you survive and what would you contribute to a community isolated by nuclear war?
  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hour(s) and 14 min.
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible, Inc. (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GX2FQO
Price: Audible $20.95; Bargain Paperback $5.20
Genre:  Science Fiction
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Product Description
This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - "Alas, Babylon." 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. Will Patton's narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilites of the nuclear age.
Review: This book is definitely an enjoyable classic.
I read this book initially when I was in high school or college.  I never forgot about it and a few years ago when I saw the book at a second hand shop I picked it up so it has been sitting on my shelf waiting for a re-read.  Earlier this month I saw the book on Audible so I got it with my monthly subscription.

This was particularly interesting because it was written and published in 1959 so keep in mind the impact on daily life would be even less than now with so many of our lives tied up with computers and other technologies that were not in use in the 1950s.  The story is set in a small river town in Central/North Florida and the protagonist is a lawyer (right up my alley).  Randy Bragg doesn’t have a lot of ambition and seems to be skating on his family’s reputation.  Randy’s ancestor was a prominent founder of Fort Repose. His older brother, Matt is a Colonel with the Strategic Air Command Base in Omaha.  As children the brothers developed a code for disaster: the phrase “Alas Babylon.”

Matt sends a telegram to Randy with the code phrase and tells Randy that he is sending his wife, Helen, and their two children to live with Randy because Matt has inside information and fears a nuclear attack by Russia. Shortly after Helen and the children arrive in Florida the fear because reality.  The bombs start in Miami and then continue to wipe out Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando.

Although Fort Repose suffers only a little direct damage from the bombs, they suffer the lose of electricity, clean water, communication and food shortages.  Medical issues are addressed with difficulty but they are lucky to have Randy’s friend, Dan, the local small town doctor as part of their community. They also have to face looters and murdering highwaymen.

The story follows Randy’s conversion from no direction in his life before “The Day”, to taking charge of his neighbors as they pull together after “The Day”.  The story addresses issues of segregation and class strife in a small town in the '50s as well as the bigger problems of survival and isolation.

There are wonderful characters including the dedicated Doctor, a retired Naval Admiral who is an amateur Ham radio operator and Randy’s current love interest, Lib, who has to cope with Helen’s jealousy.

Will Patton is the narrator and does a very good job. The book moves along at a fast pace and held my interest well even though it is more than fifty years old.  I am looking forward to reading a more recent apocalyptic story to see how it compares to this classic Cold War story. I did enjoy listening to The Road by Comac McCarthy. 

--I am pretty sure this is the cover I remember from my youth.
 This is the cover for the book I have to giveaway:
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for this 1993 used book:

1.   Comment telling me what book you read when you were younger that you would like to read again.  Please leave your email address.

2.  For an extra entry tell me of an Apocalyptic story you DO or DO NOT recommend.

3.  For another entry tell me if you have seen the movie THE ROAD and what you think of that.

4.  For an extra entry, become a follower or tell me if you are already a follower.

5. For three entries, blog, facebook, tweet (any of those networks!) about this giveaway and tell me where you did.

It isn't necessary to use separate entries unless you want them in different chronological order.
(Seven total entries possible.) MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL!

* This contest is only open to residents of US and Canada.
* No P.O. Boxes Please - for shipping reasons.
* This contest will close 10 PM (Central) on February 6, 2011.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.

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