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Alas, Babylon Paperback – July 5, 2005
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About the Author
Pat Frank (1908–1964) is the author of the classic postapocalyptic novel Alas, Babylon, as well as the Cold War thriller Forbidden Area. Before becoming an author, Frank worked as a journalist and also as a propagandist for the government. He is one of the first and most influential science fiction writers to deal with the consequences of atomic warfare.
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So many typos I couldn't count. There were so many I found myself angry as I came upon each new typo. I enjoyed the original print version of the book but this kindle version is atrocious.
As much as I loved this book, I do not recommend buying the kindle edition at all. There are a LOT of errors. It looks like they used OCR to scan a paper version of this book, and the original font didn't take well. I have seen this before in other Kindle books, but this is the worst I have seen. Very distracting and confusing to have to go back and try to figure out what was said. One sentence started with "We Ye...." after reading a couple of times I realized it was probably supposed to say "We've...". Even the last sentence of the book "The engine started and Randy turned away to face die thousand-year light". "Die" should of been "the". There are so many spelling and flat out misinterpreted words it is very distracting to say the least. Really wish I had read s hard copy of this one... or better yet, that the Kindle version wasn't so overrun with errors.
Years ago I saw the 1983 movie about life after nuclear war called “The Day After.” It was terribly depressing. Things were hopeless during and at the end. Everyone was a victim. Alas, Babylon was not as depressing. There was “hope” as people found ways to survive. There was creativity, perseverance and community.
I enjoyed the characters. I learned things. It was interesting to see how modern day people adjusted to surviving without electricity, gasoline, matches, etc. The many uses and importance of salt surprised me. It’s not the kind of book I like to read. I was depressed for the few days I was reading it. But the ending was good. I require happy endings and it was happy enough for me.
When I went to the drugstore and grocery store after reading this, I felt grateful. I didn't mind things that sometimes bother me.
There was one occurrence of the n-word racial slur.
Will Patton is great! He is one of my favorite narrators. I think I would listen to almost any book he reads.
Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 11 hrs and 14 mins. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Setting: around 1959 fictional town Fort Repose, Florida. Book copyright: 1959. Genre: apocalyptic fiction.
Alas is more about resiliency, survival, and rebuilding following a nuclear war than the war itself. It is a good story with characters I enjoyed, and actually somewhat optimistic given the dire circumstances of a global nuclear war. I recommend it.
One word of caution: The Kindle version of Alas, Babylon is full of typos. And I mean full. It's really, really bad; probably the worst Kindle "translation" I've ever read. If I did it again I'd order in hard-copy.
This is a great novel, although it's not, in many ways, constructed the way a novel would be today. Instead, we learn the backstory of all the main characters as they are introduced. Much of the story is via description - although it does a great job of driving the story forward. Most readers wouldn't notice.
Having worked in USAF SAC during the early 70's, I can attest to the general posture of nuclear weapons and delivery systems during that time - very well said, and accurate.
Lastly, our 'leaders', beginning with Bill Clinton, spouted how nuclear war was unsurvivable. This is a gross falsehood, because nuclear war is indeed survivable - unless you happen to be at ground zero.
In short, I think Mr. Frank crafted a fine novel with much truth of the 1960's era. I highly recommend this book.
But if you can overlook the errors - and there aren't any that alter meaning, they're just distracting - then it would be worth having if it ever goes on a highly-discounted sale. I do not regret buying it, now that it's out, but I also do not believe I received anything close to the value that Amazon places on the price tag.
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Some reviewer I have seen on various review sites noted the misogyny and racism in the book. What racism and misogyny present in the book is mild and a product of the time the book was written in. It is tempered by the fact that Pat Frank shows a community coming together, where everyone- regardless of age, gender or race has a contribution to make to the community. Please keep that in mind.
An excellent read.
Randy Bragg lives in the small Central Florida town of Fort Repose. He is not a very successful guy, in fact he is mostly content with eating his inheritance... One day however his much more formidable brother, Colonel Mark Bragg, USAF, sends him a telegraph ending in the words, "Alas, Babylon", a pre-established code between the brothers warning of impending disaster. It appears quickly, that this disaster is a HUGE one...
This was one of the very first novels to describe the occurence and the consequences of an all-out nuclear war. The much darker and much more pesimist "On the beach" was published two years earlier and the equally dark and pesimistic "Canticle for Leibowitz" was published in 1960. "Alas Babylone", a much more realistic thing than those other two classics, made quite a splash when it was published. Unlike so many others, the author, whose real name was Harry Hart Frank, knew what he was writing about. He served in military during WWII and watched Korean War as journalist, he studied a lot about the nuclear weapons and it shows in this book.
The novel deals less with the nuclear war itself, than with what happens next. There are, quite obviously, survivors, in fact quite a lot of them, but the organised society as we know it initially collapses - the description of this process is quite fascinating. Then, as always, people regroup and re-organise themselves, facing challenges and solving problems. This is an uphill battle, but life always ultimately triumphs over death...
Author very wisely states in this book, that it is not the strength of American nuclear arsenal that is the problem - it is the weakness of USA that causes Soviet union to attack, as Moscow believes it can win a nuclear war. It is a very important point showed in this book: in some circumstances a nuclear war CAN be won - it becomes only imposible if BOTH sides have enough primary and back-up fire power to always fully incinerate the enemy, no matter how total the initial surprise and how big the first-strike damage. On another hand, one thing totally absent here is the "nuclear winter", and a mighty good thing too, as it is a total nonsense...
This book can be also read as a kinf of post-apocalyptic SF, albeit slightly more optimistic than most of such works. Left-winged people and peaceniks will almost certainly hate this book - which is another point in its favour...
I don't want to provide spoilers here so I will keep this review short. This is an important book, still a good read and a thing that makes one think, in fact think a lot. I am glad that I bought and read it. ENJOY!
I did enjoy it and found it very entertaining but the critic in me says there should have been a lot more disarray and impending danger to the story.
4 stars as it was still extremely entertaining.
If you have an interest in politics, preparedness, human nature, the post apok genre, or anything related to these you really should read this book. It rates right up there with greats like "On the Beach", "Canticle for Liebowitz" and "Lucifer's Hammer".