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Red Alert (RosettaBooks into Film) [Kindle Edition]

Peter Bryant
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.99
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Book Description

Peter Bryant's 1958 novel Red Alert tells the terrifying tale of just how close to nuclear destruction the world can be. Here, we are faced with the worst possible of all worst-case scenarios in the Cold War; an American general loses his reason and orders a full-scale nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Air Force Brigadier General Quinten is a dying man suffering from the paranoid delusion that he can make the world a better place by setting in motion this catastrophic attack with Strategic Air Command bombers armed with nuclear weapons.

Once they get wind of it, the President of the United States and his advisors work frantically in all efforts to stop the attack. They order the American bombers shot down, and they succeed - all but with one frightening exception - a lone bomber called the "Alabama Angel" escapes destruction. The crew of the Angel ignore the President's orders and continue on with their deadly mission.

This book was originally published in the U.K. under the title Two Hours to Doom (written by Peter Bryant, the penname of writer Peter George). This intricately plotted and well-thought out novel conjures the vision of apocalyptic threat of nuclear war and illustrates just how absurdly easy such an attack can be triggered.

A virtual genre of such fiction sprang up in the late 1950s, led by Nevil Shute's On the Beach, of which Red Alert was among the earliest and finest examples. Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler's later bestseller, Fail Safe, so closely resembled Red Alert in premise and tone that George sued on plagiarism charges and actually won an out-of-court settlement. Both novels would inspire very different films that were both released in 1964.


Peter Bryant was the pen-name of author Peter George. George's reputation rests largely on his novel Red Alert and the screenplay of the film that it inspired, Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying, which George co-wrote with Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern. A pessimistic Englishman deeply committed to the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1950s, George has previously served in the Royal Air Force. He drew on this first-hand knowledge of the new age of nuclear defense and felt compelled to publish under a pseudonym. With the interest in such stories peaking around the time of Stanley Kramer's film version of On the Beach in 1959, the film rights to Red Alert were sold that same year but only to be handed off from producer to producer until Stanley Kubrick bought the rights in 1962, reportedly for as little as $3,500.

In the beginning, George collaborated with Kubrick on writing the film's script; Terry Southern's involvement and satirical overhaul would come later. Apparently, George disliked the ironic tone of Kubrick's film, though he wrote a new novelization of it that he directed to the director.

For the rest of his life, the threat of nuclear catastrophe continued to haunt George. He later wrote about life after nuclear war in a book entitled Commander-I and was at work on a novel entitled Nuclear Survivors when he ultimately committed suicide in 1966.


From classic book to classic film, RosettaBooks has gathered some of most memorable books into film available. The selection is broad ranging and far reaching, with books from classic genre to cult classic to science fiction and horror and a blend of the two creating whole new genres like Richard Matheson's The Shrinking Man. Classic works from Vonnegut, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, meet with E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. Whether the work is centered in the here and now, in the past, or in some distant and almost unimaginable future, each work is lasting and memorable and award-winning.

Product Details

  • File Size: 430 KB
  • Print Length: 166 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (January 9, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XVYLA8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,724 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Strangelove without the dark humor June 23, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Note: This review was originally published on Red Adept Reviews on June 1, 2011.

Overall: 4 3/4 stars

Plot/Storyline: 5 stars

Okay, let's this out of the way right now. My favorite movie of all time is the dark comedy classic "Dr. Strangelove." Red Alert was the novel that Dr. Strangelove was loosely based upon. Very loosely, I have to add. The essential story was carried over to the film, but the comedy elements were added in the screenplay. In other words, in the novel, there was no Dr. Strangelove, there was no breaking-into-the-Coke-machine scene, and Slim Pickens didn't ride the bomb down.

But don't be too upset. Aside from the comedy stuff, the storyline of Red Alert was carried over to the movie fairly accurately. As a fan of the movie, I even recognized much of the dialogue.

Instead of the psycho General Jack Ripper, there was General Quinten, commanding officer of the 843rd Bomb wing based at Sonora AFB, who decided to take out the Soviet Union with a massive first strike against their airfields and ICBM launch complexes. He issued "Wing Attack - Plan R" orders to his B-52s, and as in the movie, only he knew the recall code prefix ("OPE") that would bring back the planes. Inside the Pentagon's War Room, the President and his military and civilian staff argued the merits of sending in every SAC bomber to finish the job the 843rd had started. And on the B-52 "Alabama Angel," commanded by Captain Clint Brown, the crew went about their deadly business of delivering two hydrogen bombs.

And the Soviets did have a Doomsday Device that would destroy the world if it was triggered.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic May 15, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't know how it is I never got around to reading this before. It's a classic novel and part of the foundation for the entire genre of Apocalyptic novels. This a cautionary tale of how failsafes can be breached and the system itself can be used against itself to spiral out of control.

It reads like any novel written in the 50's complete with main characters who are all white men and fine upstanding examples of duty and valor. But, that doesn't detract from the overall story, it actually makes the story more believable since the everyone is doing their duty to the best of their abilities. Its fast paced and relatively short - only 2600+ locations - and makes for a pleasant read. Unlike most modern novels in the genre, there is no gore, no panic in the general population and a comparably small body count.

If you're a fan of Apocalyptic fiction, this is a must read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Study of Fear and Paranoia November 19, 2008
Before you start to read this book it might be a good idea (especially if you are under thirty years old) to do a little reading about 1958 in an almanac or encyclopedia supplement for that year. For those of us who as elementary school students, were taught to turn our desks to the window and cower behind it, or hide in the halls; this could have been a true story. There were more than one or two scares in those days that could have led to a "Nuclear Exchange".

Of little note today is that SAC (the Strategic Air Command) had air fleets of B-52s armed and in the air from the 1950s until the early 1990s. During that time there were many 'incidents' that could have triggered a 'bombing' should there not have been numerous "failsafes" that kept this from happening. One of the major protections was the 'red phone' lines directly between the US President and the General Secretary of the USSR.

While Kubrick decided to turn this into a satire, most of what happens in the book does happen in the movie, without the comedy. What prevented this disaster from actually happening was that 'Plan R' was NEVER a scenario that was approved for use by the Joint Chiefs. One of the reasons that no one person (except for the President) could order a strike was to prevent some one going off the deep end and ordering a nuclear strike. In most cases it took two or more people to arm a missile and fire it. The 'Minuteman' sites were set-up so that one person couldn't turn both keys at once and the two men in the silo were armed so as to able to shoot each other should it become necessary to stop any attempted launch.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Story, Terrible Printing August 23, 2007
By Rico
I have just started reading the novel but am having trouble finishing it. The story itself is actually quite good. I like the author's style more than anything but this edition of the novel is the most unprofessional book I have ever read. I am not even half way through it and have found more spelling errors than one could believe. Judging by the numerous whole-word replacements like, "...truth [trust] no one..." and "... 200 miles from the short [shore]..." and whole word omissions, it seems that the novel was written on Microsoft Word. There are also time conflicts with confusion between a.m. and p.m. and events that must have taken place after other events given a time before those events.
I myself am a terrible speller and usually read right over such mistakes, but these are so numerous and so obvious that I cringe thinking about all those I missed. They are a distraction to the story and show the poor quality of the editorial staff.
If you can find an earlier printing of this book, buy that copy. So far, it is worth the read, but not the frustration.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling
The no nonsense straightforwardness of this novel makes it believe able, except that the Cold War is thankfully over. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Thomas R. Boxleiter
4.0 out of 5 stars A very important book. Written as a page turner ...
A very important book. Written as a page turner, with a real empathy for its characters, big and small. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Franky63
3.0 out of 5 stars A quick read
Read it to see how it compared to the screenplay. It was pretty darn close, but any humorous scenes from the movie were certainly not in the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tin Pigeon
5.0 out of 5 stars Red Alert
Terrific story! Action through out. A lot of interesting stories about the B52 crew: how they stuck together to the end. The scenes at Sonora air base a dynamite. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Onlygameintown
5.0 out of 5 stars How I stopped worrying and began to love the bomb!
This was an excellent story with a spine chilling ending. It reminded me of the movie "Failsafe" starring Henry Fonda. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Peter Sinclair
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is not dull, but the movie would have been if they ...
I can see why Mr. Kubrick decided to go with satire in his movie. The book is not dull, but the movie would have been if they wrote it straight.
Published 3 months ago by R. Buelow
4.0 out of 5 stars Film was better
This book was fine--nicely paced, tightly plotted, with an impressive but not overwhelming amount of technical detail. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars it's not a bunch of 'fun and games' like Kubrick's movie was
First of all, it's not a bunch of 'fun and games' like Kubrick's movie was. The book was deadly serious about a time that many people would just as soon forget about. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kevin E. Ramsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant after all these years...
Even though many years years have passed since this book was published, it still keeps you on the edge of your seat. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Marc E
5.0 out of 5 stars a fine read
A very real and emotional read, funny to have Kubrick convert this tense book into such a humor based movie, perhaps his version is real as well!
Published 7 months ago by Captain Thad
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