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One Second After (A John Matherson Novel) Mass Market Paperback – April 26, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
In this entertaining apocalyptic thriller from Forstchen (We Look Like Men of War), a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes, unleashing a deadly electromagnetic pulse that instantly disables almost every electrical device in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Airplanes, most cars, cellphones, refrigerators—all are fried as the country plunges into literal and metaphoric darkness. History professor John Matherson, who lives with his two daughters in a small North Carolina town, soon figures out what has happened. Aided by local officials, Matherson begins to deal with such long-term effects of the disaster as starvation, disease and roving gangs of barbarians. While the material sometimes threatens to veer into jingoism, and heartstrings are tugged a little too vigorously, fans of such classics as Alas, Babylon and On the Beachwill have a good time as Forstchen tackles the obvious and some not-so-obvious questions the apocalypse tends to raise. Newt Gingrich provides a foreword. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
In a Norman Rockwell town in North Carolina, where residents rarely lock homes, retired army colonel John Matherson teaches college, raises two daughters, and grieves the loss of his wife to cancer. When phones die and cars inexplicably stall, Grandma’s pre-computerized Edsel takes readers to a stunning scene on the car-littered interstate, on which 500 stranded strangers, some with guns, awaken John’s New Jersey street-smart instincts to get the family home and load the shotgun. Next morning, some townspeople realize that an electromagnetic pulse weapon has destroyed America’s power grid, and they proceed to set survival priorities. John’s list includes insulin for his type-one diabetic 12-year-old, candy bars, and sacks of ice. Deaths start with heart attacks and eventually escalate alarmingly. Food becomes scarce, and societal breakdown proceeds with inevitable violence; towns burn, and ex-servicemen recall “Korea in ’51” as military action by unlikely people becomes the norm in Forstchen’s sad, riveting cautionary tale, the premise of which Newt Gingrich’s foreword says is completely possible. --Whitney Scott --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book has me rethinking my reluctance to own firearms and I’m looking at survival websites for freeze dried foods. You can never be too careful!
The protagonist/narrator of this book is one of the least likeable I've encountered. He has a strong code which he applies to everyone except himself. Things that are abhorrent for others to do are totally fine for him. Maybe that's realistic, but who wants to spend this much time in the company of a jerk? The whole premise is uneven and unlikely, so it was hard to suspend disbelief enough to really get into it.
This book does not go out of it's way to be scary but is because in the back of your mind, you're expecting the power to go off and stay off. It's a great adventure that isn't like anything I've read.
The central theme in this novel is still very compelling, and all Americans should learn about it, even if they do so through a quick summary vs a full-blown novel treatment like this one. The potential of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon basically destroying U.S. infrastructure has long been known. I was hearing about them after I graduated from college in the early '80s. Even more frighteningly, however, is the increasing ability of rogue nations to develop both the nuclear and missile technology capable of delivering such a blow to the U.S. Is anyone still paying any attention to this in government? Unclear. But I sure hope so.
This novel puts this theoretical risk in local and human perspective by showing the impact of such a weapon on day-to-day life, starting (literally) a second after it occurs. This is the best advertisement for the book itself, (as well as the topic): what is our government doing to "harden" vital government and communications functions against such a blast, and can we "count" on our electronic and economic interconnections with most major countries in the world to effectively convince them that such a weapon (used by them or any of their less reliable client states) would effectively bring down their own regimes and infrastructure as well.
More importantly, though, it raises constant and legitimate points about what the preparedness of any local community to cope with the devastating aftermath of something which, for most, may not be well known, discussed or even drilled for. It also asks, even if in an implicit way, what any American should ponder about the vulnerability of our electronic and high tech gadgets to simplified but devastating weaponry. An EMP would cause no fallout damage or radiation sickness..it would just hurl us between 3 and 5 centuries into the past without a lot of institutional knowledge of the technology how to deal with it. A great theme running through the book is the search for people who knew enough about steam engines and old fashioned cars (before they were all built with non-hardened electronic and computer circuitry.) This knowledge is harder and harder to find.
The writing is straightforward and matter of fact; it is not an elegant poetic attempt at grand dystopian or post-apocalyse writing like Stephen King's masterful epic "The Stand"; But that matter-of-fact prose actually serves it well, since anything more poetic might actually detract from the impact of the story...its better to let the potential impact come through on its own.
So, this book is a way for lovers of novels to catch up on a very real geopolitical topic in the guise of a page turner. The author also has written a sequel called "one year after". That also might be interesting, although I think the more compelling topic for this country and readers is what happens from day to day 365.
The message should be clear. Even if you don't have the patience to read the book, but merely go onto Google and read a few pages about EMP, and ponder what it might mean, you'll be better off. Oh, and I'd suggest getting onto Google NOW, since Google service may be spotty if we're hit with an EMP....
As a final comment, I'll not that I read this book on my kindle. The irony isn't lost on me that this wouldn't be possible after an EMP blast. Maybe a good argument for keeping a copy of the old "Foxfire books in hardcopy on my shelves?