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Death of Grass (Alpha Books) Paperback – Abridged, June, 1979

ISBN-13: 978-0194242325 ISBN-10: 0194242323 Edition: Abridged

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Paperback, Abridged, June, 1979
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'The Death of Grass sticks with commendable perseverance to the surface of the earth we know... John Christopher has constructed an unusually dramatic and exciting tale' Daily Mail 'I know and admire The Death of Grass. It was published at roughly the same time as The Day Of The Triffids. In my judgement, it is by far the better book. The characterisation is better and the mood uniformly cold. It is a thrilling and sensible work' - Brian Aldiss 'Gripping ! of all science fiction's apocalypses, this is one of the most haunting' Financial Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind (2003), which won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award, and The Wild Places (2007), which won the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The New York Times. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Alpha Books
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr (Sd); Abridged edition (June 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0194242323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0194242325
  • Shipping Weight: 16 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,030,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

They also will produce milk much more suitable for human consumption than pig milk.
Stephen Challis
All involved will find in themselves surprising ressources and will do - finally quite easily - things they wouldn't even believe possible barely a week before.
Darth Maciek
John Christopher writes it well, and I think this may well be his best work (I have read them all).
Sir Furboy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Greg Hughes on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Death of Grass" is John Christopher's best known novel and probably the ultimate disaster story. The world is dying of starvation. Every kind of grass we need for food is being destroyed by a virus, resulting in carnage, anarchy and a rapid descent to barbarism.
In England, now a brown and unpleasant land, two of the principal characters learn of a government plan to depopulate the country. The only way to survive is to escape the hungry mobs and make it to a refuge in the countryside.
Like "Lord of the Flies", this story shows how civilized decency and good manners will easily slip away and expose the brutality within us when faced with a fight for survival.
John Christopher's writing reminds me of John Wyndham, another writer known for his end-of-the-world scenarios. "The Death of Grass" is a frightening story because in the beginning we identify with the people and their normality. As the book progresses the people become something less than human, but in the end we get a glimmer of hope.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jason Harris on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
This isn't the latest book I've read but it is probably the best book I have read in a long time. It's a basic end of the world story. Some disease attacks plants of the grass family, eventually spreading across the whole world wiping out a pretty hefty portion of the world's food supply. So with no wheat and no rice things get a little tense, especially when all the livestock starve to death. And so it goes. All of it. And, like all such stories, there is a band of survivors seeking salvation; in this case a brother's natural fortress of a valley farm.
The action isn't particularly quick but I was on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole way through the book. It's not that it is suspenseful (I had figured the general shape of the story early on), it's how so normally some people approach this incredible disaster. Don't get me wrong, Christopher isn't a stilted writer and there are plenty of characters who act just like you would expect people to act in a whole-world-goes-belly-up situation. This story is about what happens when a bunch of people start thinking for themselves calmly and rationally about the titanic heap of crap they are in rather than wait for a festering mob of self-interested politicians to tell them what to do and that everything will be just fine. Then, these people start to act. They start tossing away social 'norms' like smelly old shoes as the situation worsens and brutality means survival. The protagonists don't actually become brutes themselves. They just figure out which brutal actions mean the difference between their next meal and going hungry. That's what kept me on the edge of my seat.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Irja on October 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The Death of Grass speaks of how much of our civility in society is hinged to the availability of food, and how a group of Englishmen and women find new order. The emergence of a virus in Asia spreads throughout the world and in its wake upturning the every day pattern life and societal behaviour. The virus attacks monocotyledons, which includes rice, wheat, oats, grass, etc. As not only people, but livestock and other animals are affected. The implications of such a virus are staggering to consider and not that far removed from our current day. The author's grasp on the reader seems as if the book was written today, or reported in a daily newspaper, not of a book written in the 1930's. With the increased scarcity of food, anarchy sets in the cities and hamlets of England. Ordinary citizens form bands looking for a means to feed, clothe and protect their members. There is little love lost and distrust between the groups of nomads that now travel through the lands. Despite the supposed flattening out of the structure of society, leaders, followers, and betrayers emerge as the situation reaches a flash point for our nomadic group. A new order is established and the outcome for our new order entrepreneurs is not expected, but as close to human nature and sibling rivalry as one would prefers not to experience. I had this book, but ironically, it was attacked by mildew and now I am looking to replace the original.
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Format: Paperback
When an ever-mutating virus destroys crops in the Far East, the British only pay cursory attention to the ensuing famine....until they realise it's hit their own shores.
This is a 'road story', following middle-class John Custance, as he attempts to make it to his brother David's farm - and stockade - in Westmorland. Accompanied by his family, a friend's family, plus a few individuals they pick up on the way, they must cross a Britain very different from the one they are used to...
Like some other reviewers, I found this a rather weak novel; the characters seemed implausible - in just a few pages John's wife Ann goes from violently opposing 'selfish' nations witholding their grain to refusing to take their son's friend on their journey (knowing he faces certain death otherwise.) Society doesn't slowly degenerate - in the way it does in RC Sheriff's brilliant 'The Hopkins Manuscript' - but overnight turns from an ordered world of children at boarding school and rationed food to a post-apocalyptic environment reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'.
Readable but leaves no great impression.
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