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Earth Abides Paperback – March 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345487133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345487131
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (631 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

George Rippey Stewart (May 31, 1895 – August 22, 1980) was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his only science fiction novel Earth Abides (1949), a post-apocalyptic novel, for which he won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was dramatized on radio's Escape and inspired Stephen King's The Stand. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Very well written and interesting plot.
Harold Morcombe
A story that reflects hope that humanity might survive, even if the society that evolves is in a necessarily diminished state from the existence we know today.
Jersey Meg
I read this book 35 years ago while in junior high.
Daniel S. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

454 of 487 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Hanniver on May 17, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I write "one of the most memorable books I've read," that's saying something, because I've kept up a pace of reading at least four books a week since before entering Kindergarten and am now 67. I borrowed EARTH ABIDES from the library a year after it came out, in 1950, when I was a 14-year-old high school sophomore, reading everything and anything labeled "science fiction." I didn't own the book until fairly recently, but it stayed vividly in my memory. I could call up characters like fussy Maureen, stolid George, loyal Em and the tragic genius child, Joey. I remembered the fascinating journey across America, the vague frustration I felt (even so young) over Ish's passive character and the generally negative slide of the tribe from scavenging off civilization into what appeared almost to be an Upper Paleolithic lifestyle at the novel's end--not even qualifying as barbarism.
But it's Stewart's refusal to tread the usual Golden Age sci-fi path and make Ish a superscience hero that makes the novel very special. Ish may be a scientist, he's academically bright, but like many people he's low in energy, street-smarts, and foresight. By and large his motley clan possesses even lower survival skills. They aren't much different from the Valley Girls in another good story in the end-of-the-world genre, the movie NIGHT OF THE COMET. Both are based on an understanding that if the human race's average IQ is 100, half the people who are likely to survive a major disaster aren't going to be awfully competent. Stewart certainly knew that, and it provided both the uncanny realism and the rather depressing pessimism of this story. It's fascinating to note that the other reviewers have noted both aspects of EARTH ABIDES.
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130 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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81 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Cleve Blakemore on July 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One thing that disturbs people about Earth Abides is its incredible humbling realism about the human condition. People who read it come away profoundly unnerved by the idea that civilization is not something guaranteed to come into existence if we lose it and that it requires an enormous convergence of many different kinds of stimulus to create the energies needed within a race of men to bring it into being. Even the most gifted races of people on the Earth can barely hold it together in the best of times, George Stewart shows us how easily it can all fall apart and remain in a primeval condition for untold generations.
The protagonist Isherwood suffers from the same disease that afflicts even the best of men - he lacks direction, loses initiative, becomes too preoccupied with the daily stresses of living and watches his life trickle away in the post apocalyptic environment without ever seeming to summon the right kinds of ambitions to carry out his grand dreams of rebuilding the old world.
Stewart was quite prophetic considering when this book was written because many modern anthropologists have since confirmed that many previous civilizations have died out precisely because of this "critical threshold" of the division of labor and sheer numbers of vanished races being too low to sustain a breeding population and achieve the critical mass that leads to a progress oriented civilization. Stewart was very perceptive too be able to articulate this phenomenon and even narrate its exact trajectory following the loss of so many people who were vital components in the world that Isherwood regrets the demise of.
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