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Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

What it is About?

“An extraordinary real picture of human beings numbed by catastrophe but still driven by the unconquerable determination of living creatures to keep on being alive.” —The New Yorker

“Alas, Babylon.” Those fateful words heralded the end. When the unthinkable nightmare of nuclear holocaust ravaged the United States, it was instant death for tens of millions of people; for survivors, it was a nightmare of hunger, sickness, and brutality. Overnight, a thousand years of civilization were stripped away.

But for one small Florida town, miraculously spared against all the odds, the struggle was only just beginning, as the isolated survivors—men and women of all ages and races—found the courage to come together and confront the harrowing darkness.

This classic apocalyptic novel by Pat Frank, first published in 1959 at the height of the Cold War, includes an introduction by award-winning science fiction writer and scientist David Brin.

First Chapter, First Paragraph

In Fort Repose, a river town in Central Florida, it was said that sending a message by Western Union was the same as broadcasting it over the combined networks. This was not entirely true. It was true that Florence Wechek, the manager, gossiped. Yet she judiciously classified the personal intelligence that flowed under her plump fin- gers, and maintained a prudent censorship over her tongue.

The scandalous and the embarrassing she excised from her conversation. Sprightly, trivial, and harm- less items she passed on to friends, thus enhancing her status and relieving the te- dium of spinsterhood. If your sister was in trouble, and wired for money, the secret was safe with Florence Wechek. But if your sister bore a legitimate baby, its sex and weight would soon be known all over town.

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Why You Should Check This Out…

Alas Babylon is a classic dystopian fiction about a world gone nuts, and an enclave of people trying to make it. Written at the height of the cold war between the United States and Russia, it posets what would happen with a nuclear strike. It is a gritty and painful read, but it is one that has stuck with me over the years. If you are looking to do some deep introspection, this book does not sugar coat anything. But it is the long of book that you read only once in your life. For Alas Babylon, one reading is more than enough.

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