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Alas, Babylon (Perennial Classics) Paperback – April 1, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,241 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A warm, continuously interesting story of what can happen to a group of ordinary people in a perilous situation." -- New York Herald Tribune

"An enthralling and vivid story of the follies and failures of people, their courage and cruelty, their treachery and triumphs. Mr. Frank is a magnificent writer." -- Chicago Sunday Tribune

"Frank is successful enough in making us believe it could indeed happen here to send a small, fearful chill along our backbone." -- Saturday Review

"Frighteningly credible and exciting reading." -- Library Journal

"Ingenious...Provocative." -- -- New York Times

From the Back Cover

"Alas, Babylon." Those fateful words heralded the end. 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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Perennial Classics
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st Perennial Classics ed edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060931396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. L. MILLER on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This story deals with the Soviet nuclear attack on America that fortunately didn't happen. Where "On the Beach" was written from a British/ Australian perspective, this book is based in the American south, perhaps making Pat Frank the Pat Conroy of post-apocalyptic fiction. In 1960, during the height of the Cold War, Randy Bragg, descendant of an old Florida family, gets a heads-up from his career Air Force brother and prepares his family and his town for when "the button gets pushed". Younger readers who didn't live through the Cold War might find this story a bit campy, but as one of the kids taught by teachers to hide under my desk, I'm in no position to scoff. The book's short length (by today's standards) might make you take it for pulp fiction at first glance, but the fact that it's still in print four decades later is a testament to its quality. Rather than just crank this thing out, certain that no one would notice the picky details, Frank did his homework on this story. Even down to the dog tag on the collar of a wild stray German shepherd in one passage--as a one-time resident of Rochester NY the same as that dog, I can testify to the fact that the phone exchange on his tag really did exist back in those days...
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By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Two brothers growing up in Ft. Repose, Florida would often sneak down to the African American congregation to listen to the intense, hell-fire preacher. After every convicting statement he belted to his congregation he would follow them with "Alas, Babylon." Frome then on, Randy a former politician, and Mark a high ranking officer serving in military intelligence would use this phrase as a code. As an intense nuclear threat puts Mark Bragg and his family in trouble Mark sends his family to Ft. Repose, Florida for fear that one of the first targets will be the his intelligence base. Mark sent a telegram prior to the arrival of his family reading, "Urgent you meet me at Base Ops McCoy noon today. Helen and children are flying to Orlando tonight. Alas, Babylon." The story begins to unfold from there as the plot thickens and becomes more detailed and complex. The book is about the unthinkable happening; a nuclear strike and survival after the such a devastating event. A provocative story written by a great author, Pat Frank which is easy to follow and very interesting. His foresight into what could possibly happen is incredible. Even smallest details don't go unattended. Thrilling suspense that will keep the pages turning and your mind thinking. A book for anyone who enjoys an apocolyptic thriller, conspiracy plots, or just a plain old great book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a novel of a post-nuclear-holocaust world in the United States. At the time it was written (and I first read it), the scenario depicted in it was a real threat. People were building bomb shelters in their back yards. I considered it, but did not because I knew enough to realize that such measures were futile.

The protagonist, Randy Bragg, moves his family to the small Florida town of Fort Repose when he realizes that a nuclear attack is imminent. The book, though, is not primarily about the military aspects, or science, or fighting back. It is about survival of the people after the attack has destroyed the infrastructure of society and anarchy reigns, and how they cope with it. Contrary to the opinion of many, it is not science fiction. It is an attempt to warn people who lived at the time it was written, and such an attack was a real possibility, what problems they would face if and when it occured. The characters are well-drawn, the situations realistic and well-thought-out, and the subject was of immediate interest--in fact, its possibility haunted us all, in those days.

In point of fact, it is the kind of situation that could, even today, follow any major natural disaster or terrorist act which would disrupt the normal functions of government and the operations of public utilities, resulting in anarchy and the "law of the jungle."

When one reads the criticism of today's high school child, that it was a "boring" story, it demonstrates how far we have come since those days of the cuban missile crisis, for example, when I worked fifty miles from home, and worried when I went to work that I might be separated from my family, including my wife and five young children, by a nuclear strike and not see them again.
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2 Comments 111 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I like this book, but not for the reasons I expected. First, unlike most post-nuclear books, this is mostly a strict survival story with few nuclear elements. In fact, the characters only encounter radiation in one small subplot. Therefore, the nuclear war is merely a backdrop.

The book tells a survival story where a small town is cut off from the rest of the world (which mostly no longer exists) and must make do with existing skills and resources. The central hero, Randy, is appealing and believable.

The characters are the main reason to like this story. None of the main characters "turn bad" post-apocalypse style, so the tension is mostly generated by sympathizing with these people and their trials. A simple story, but certainly worth reading.
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