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Without Warning (The Disappearance)
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
Price:$7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on January 29, 2018
I read Without Warning in paperback a couple of years ago and thought it was a great novel. I also read the 2nd and 3rd novel in this trilogy which I also found to be very enjoyable. This review is more about the format of this purchase. I travel a lot with my wife and in-laws where we listen to books on CD. I purchased this novel expecting we would enjoy it on a road trip. We found the narration very difficult to understand. My father-in-law has a hearing-aid and found it almost impossible to understand. The problem is the accent of the narrator which made the words hard to understand. After 3 of the CDs we gave up. I would recommend this novel, but not in the CD format.
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on September 3, 2016
As usual John Birmingham has written another incredible action thriller extraordinaire! A wave of unknown origin, some type of chemical killing mass has hit parts of Europe, America.....almost everywhere, killing millions. Israel has nuked there enemies. Muslim radicals are on a killing spree. The world is in chaos. This is a book featuring multiple characters trying to survive. Spellbinding action, I enjoyed tremendously!!!
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on January 21, 2014
This was an enjoyable read. Follows the story lines of several groups of survivors after the mysterious occurrence that nearly destroys America and makes most of it uninhabitable. The story takes place not only in what's left of America, but also France, Mexico, Cuba and many other locales as the world reacts to the break down of world governments and people do what they must to survive.

A great twist on the "End of the World" theme! Label it under Thriller, Action, Suspense, Alternative History (Takes place right as we are about to enter the Gulf war) and a little science fiction.

Makes me want to read Birminghams other series involving alternative history.
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on October 14, 2016
An interesting perspective on how people would adapt to a major loss of central government. From the re-establishment of local law and order to the long range effects on international feuds, John Birmingham creates many personalised accounts of frustration, mourning and fear.
The worst and best of human nature is shown, from greed and cruelty to compassion and heroism.
This is sometimes a depressing read but the book finishes with a glimmer of hope for the human race. If the right people can lead the masses of people who want to return to an organised and civilised society then the darker side of humanity can be controlled. Survival at all costs becomes a rebuild of democracy and dignity.
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on November 12, 2017
Well written story about the aftermath of a world changing event.
Told from the perspectives,of several survivors as they all try to reach some where normal or to complete their last mission.
The action sequences,are well done.
I plan on buying the second book to see how things develope.
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on April 29, 2009
Having read the author's "Axis of Time" trilogy and quite enjoyed it, I approached this, the start of a new trilogy, with reasonably high expectations. Overall I found it a bit of a let-down.

The technique used is one much used by Harry Turtledove:

(a) Invoke a premise that stands the world as we know it on its head; and
(b) Tell stories - lots of different (and completely unrelated) ones from different people in different places - about its consequences.

In this case, an energy wave of unknown origin and bordered by a vast curtain stopping just short of Seattle on the one hand and Guantanamo Bay on the other, wipes out all of life in those parts of the USA, Canada and Mexico that are behind it. (In some ways it reminded me of the change in physical laws in S.J. Stirling's "Dies the fire"). This happens just prior to the planned invasion of Iraq, which, as can be imagined, spoils somewhat the preparations for that particular affair. And, as can also be imagined, the sudden removal from the scene of the world's major heavyweight causes all sorts of other nasty things to crawl out of the woodwork to exploit the vacuum.

The idea is no more preposterous than that of the transport of a 21st century battle fleet to the WW2 Pacific theatre, but somehow I found the story-telling more pedestrian and the characters and events less engaging than those of "Axis of Time". Indeed, I found myself reading it at least partially out of determination to try to get something more approaching my money's worth. As a result, I'll buy the other two books only if offered at a price I can't refuse.
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on September 29, 2013
Got this book after following a link from a Wall Street Journal editorial. The other reviews and synopsis sounded good, so I downloaded it and made the mistake of starting to read it one evening... I couldn't put it down! The book is the story of several people "left behind" after pretty much everyone in the US disappears. By following their adventures, the author is able to weave in the larger story of what happens to the remaining countries - politics, economies and how people survive. The characters are diverse, believable and the book is long enough to develop them well.

Half way through, I plunked down the money for the second and third books, have started the second, and not been disappointed.

Highly recommended.
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on August 28, 2010
The plot of what the world would be like after the instantaneous "disappearance" of 99% of the North American people (Canada, USA, Mexico, and Cuba) is masterfully well done as most of the other reviewers have indicated. North America is depopulated except for a narrow arc in the Pacific Northwest that extends from Seattle up into Vacouver and Edmonton and a very thin sliver of southern Mexico and the corner of Cuba around Gitmo. The "United States" now consists of Alaska, Hawaii, Seattle, plus the armed forces stationed overseas -- perhaps 10 million people out of the original 310 million.

I concur with most of the other reviewers that Birgmingham's scenario the aftermath of "a world without America" is stunning and unexpected. The unexpected events that Birmingham conjures up are so realistically decribed and so originally thought out that I could not stop reading the book once I started.

I did find a couple of amusing ommissions in the book:

1. The almost total lack of curiosity about the phenominon called "the wave" that instantaneously destroys all life under its shadow. I can understand the author's point in portraying this thing as totally mysterious and inscrutable, but in reality the survivors would be working night and day to try to understand this most important phenominon in human history.

2. Birmingham says nothing about Puerto Rico, which with 4 million people would have been the largest concentration of U.S. Citizens left in the world, having as many people as Alaska, Hawaii, and Seattle combined. Perhaps, being Australian, Birmingham was not aware that Puerto Rico and similar outlying areas in the Caribbean and Pacific are also American territories. One would expect these territories to become very active if the North American mainland was obliterated by some catastrophe.

3. Likewise the northwestern corner of North America (Alaska, northern Alberta and B.C.) would become essential for feeding the population concetrations around Seattle and Vancouver. This land is marginally suitable for agriculture. Would the city dwellers from Seattle and Vancouver migrate there and start rebuilding from the ground up as pioneers on the subarctic frontier? That would have made for some interesting subplots.

These are minor criticisms, and the only ones I could think of in a book that is written so well.
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VINE VOICEon August 9, 2009
Without Warning is John Birmingham's latest novel. After only recently discovering his "Axis of Time" trilogy (and reading all three novels in succession over a period of about 10 days and staying up too late to read more) that justifiably was a hit with readers and critics, I went and ordered Without Warning immediately. Like the Axis of Time books, Without Warning is alternative history, with the twist that the alternative history starts in 2003, just before we were about to invade Irag, when a gigantic "energy wave" of undetermined origin envelopes most of central and southern North America, killing (turning into piles of stinky green goo) and/or "disappearing" all the primates within an area of some 4 million square miles, instantly wiping out the US, and almost all of Mexico, plus the most populated regions of Canada. All this happens in the first couple of pages.

The rest of the book is part one of another 3-book series. The premise is brilliant - What happens to the word when America (except for Hawaii, Alaska and the most northwestern tip of Washington State) disappears from the world stage almost entirely, yet leaving behind most of its Navy and a good portion of the rest of the armed forces that were gearing up to topple Saddam when the "wave" happened? I found Birmingham's ideas of what would happen in the middle east, China and Europe totally consistent with world events over the past decade and the shifting demographics in many European countries, particularly France, and frighteningly realistic (naysayers and critics to the contrary).

The language (that has been criticized by several previous reviewers) didn't bother me a bit. Yup, there is a lot of swearing but holy $%@#$, what would you sound like if your entire family and almost everyone you ever knew, and the old way of life disappeared in the blink of an eye and you happened to be left alive because you were in Europe or Hawaii on business or a vacation - or in the military? Would you say "Oh darn" or "Shoot" ? I doubt it.

Another criticism that I've read is that the origin or physics of the wave is not explained. Maybe it will be in future installments - maybe not. But it doesn't matter because the book is more about the socio-political fallout of the US disappearing, not the hard SF of how it happens and how it can be "fixed".

There are several interesting characters, and there is enough tension and plot to maintain readers until the next entry appears - sometime in 2010. Yes, there are similarities with the Axis of Time (the military, embedded journalist, ultra strong female characters) but I liked all of those the first time and the problems facing them in this new series are completely different. So go ahead and pick up this book. If you liked the previous series you will like this one too. And if you didn't read the Axis of Time - do, but you will still like this if you are a fan of apocalyptic fiction, alternative histories or political or military SF.
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on July 14, 2013
John Birmingham channels Clancy, with an Australian accent, and without the John Birch Society polemics. Birmingham writes with a sparse prose that is unusual in this new unedited, self-published dispensation. Not that I disapprove of self-publishing, but God I miss the editing. His characters have complexity and depth. The action is fast, and the world-building convincing. I really enjoyed that the story-line hinges on several strong capable action heroines. I read it over the course of one weekend, and immediately proceeded to download the two sequels from Amazon.

Recommended: very tasty, nutritious and satisfying.
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