Customer Reviews for

Alas, Babylon

Average Rating 4.5
( 160 )
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(97)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

One of the greatest books ever written

My father introduced me to this book about a year ago, and I have found it so engaging that I have already read it three times. After writing this review, however, I have a strong feeling that I will be tempted to start over again.

The book takes place in a very re...
My father introduced me to this book about a year ago, and I have found it so engaging that I have already read it three times. After writing this review, however, I have a strong feeling that I will be tempted to start over again.

The book takes place in a very realistic (especially now) post-nuclear war scenario, written amidst the paranoia associated with the peak of the cold war. It has a wide variety of well, rounded characters that fit their roles exquisitely. After the Russians bomb a small city in Florida, Randy Bragg, his neighbors, and his brothers wife and children must show that the human spirit is able to endure even the most horrible of atrocities, which can be the only thing used to describe the tragedy of nuclear war, a very realistic possibility, especially today.
It is obvious, from this book, that Mr. Frank was extremely politically active. The attention to detail that he gave to making the nuclear war scenario realistic is almost unparalleled. All elements were in concert with everything else, and the book meshed beautifully. As a side note, he made excellent use of the third-person omnipotent point of view by accurately, and effectively giving us a view in to the troubled minds of the protagonist, and even many side-characters. It's shockingly realistic, and shows many different interpretations of the human condition, exemplified by the characters reactions. The protagonist (Randy) shows leadership by enforcing Marshall Law and regulating the city, and bringing his small community of neighbors out of the rapidly spiraling chaos of the squalid, vile, main city, and in to a state of relative prosperity.

If I didn't know any better, I would have assumed this was fact. It was so epically written, well thought out, and realistic that to not have assumed it had really happened would be the act of a mad man. It's enthralling, so much so that every time I put it down, I would always leave my finger on the exact word I was on so that I could begin reading again as soon as I possibly could. "Alas, Babylon" is incredibly addictive, and realistic. It shows how the human spirit is able to overcome human error. Everyone who reads this book will undoubtedly have a greater understanding, if not, a greater appreciation, for the very real possibility on nuclear war, and the genuine effects it could have on indisputably real people.

Pat Frank is an extraordinary author, avid politician, and a prophet, in the true sense of the word (someone who tells uncomfortable truths or truths that are not easily accepted). His book, no, his gift to the world, is one of the best I have ever read, or recommended to anyone. An extremely wonderful book, a classic, and a must read. It has stood the test of time, and remains just as wonderful a book as it was when it was written decades ago. The reality of it may have even increased.

posted by TheUbermensch on April 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Do not buy this version!!!

This version is not the original book. Huge and VERY IMPORTANT sections of the original story have been removed. The rest is poor edited. Pat Frank would be rolling in his grave. Whoever it was who decided to offer this awful rendition has certainly done so only for th...
This version is not the original book. Huge and VERY IMPORTANT sections of the original story have been removed. The rest is poor edited. Pat Frank would be rolling in his grave. Whoever it was who decided to offer this awful rendition has certainly done so only for the money

posted by 17592845 on July 10, 2013

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    I've read this book more times than any other

    An at least once a year read for me, this is a book that both saddens me and at the same time builds my faith in the ultimate ability of humankind to adapt and overcome.
    I grew up in Central Florida, including several years in the (then) small town of Pinecastle mentioned in the book as Randy Bragg leaves his meeting with his brother at McCoy Air Force Base. By the way, if you've ever flown into Orlando Internatinal Airport on you r way to Disney Land you might have noticed the airport ID code on your luggage is MCO from the time when Orlando International was actually McCoy Air Force Base.

    In addition to the central theme of survival in a post-atomic war setting, the 1950's social norms are an eye-opening reality check.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Good read. It makes you think.

    This story is a good example of the kinds of things you might be faced with should there be a breakdown of society. This breakdown might occur from enemy attack (as in this story), economical meltdown, a natural disaster, or a combination of many things. NOW is the time to get prepared for any such emergency. Randy Bragg, the hero of this story, did not have the internet available to him for reference. Neither will we, once the disaster is underway. Research now!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2013

    Great Book

    The only reason why I take oof a star is because there is some bad language in it though seem to remember that it was kind of smattered.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    very good, this book will make you analyze how you are living an

    very good, this book will make you analyze how you are living and ask yourself "am i prepared for a break-down of society and if so, how would i handle it"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    good

    good

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2010

    A book that made you think, "what if.."

    this book was very easy to read, in fact it only took a minimal amount of time to complete it. kind of reminded me of a high school literature class reading assignment, but still worth the read. although it was fairly "basic" from a technical aspect, i still enjoyed it greatly. it made me wonder just how i would react in a situation similar to that which the book speaks of.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Four stars for the writing but negative four stars for the editi

    Four stars for the writing but negative four stars for the editing and proofing on the Nook version. If typos, incorrect word placement and other grammatical errors bother you, then don't purchase the Nook version. Otherwise, great writing and plot. A must read for those who are into doomsday scenarios. I must agree with the other comments regarding a chunk of the book missing  but again, save youtself the aggravation and don't buy the Nook version; go old school and get the book. I made the mistake of not listening to the comments about that and ended up regretting spending my money on a version that was so poorly proofread. Seriously, there is a typo on every single page it's insane. 

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A solid and believable look into a nuclear holocaust

    Fort Repose is an idyllic little town located in Central Florida. At least everything is idyllic until "The Day". "The Day" is the day that the bombs fell-- nuclear bombs-- and entire cities were wiped off the map. This book was written in the heat of the cold war with Russia, and just shortly before the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. So it isn't surprising that the Russians are portrayed as the enemy in the story, or that a book about man's attempt to survive after a nuclear holocaust would be so popular at the time, and remains so 50 years later. The story is told primarily from the perspective of Randy Bragg, and follows him before, during and after the nuclear attack. Randy is a guy that just wants to do what is best for everyone. He isn't a control freak or someone who has to be the leader in every situation. He simply wants what is best for everyone. Randy's love interest is Lib McGovern. Strong and intuitive and empathetic, Lib lends strength to Randy and their relationship builds through the story. Randy's sister-in-law Helen and her children come to live with him, and she is a "man's woman". She's a good woman that any man would want as his partner in life, in good times or in bad. Smart, tough and strong, she takes over as a sort of "head of household" figure and keeps everything running smoothly. Dr. Dan Gunn is a man who had all of the best intentions in spending a life in charitable pursuits, but has found himself a little embittered after a divorce as he finds his life's path altered and diverted. Admirable and hard-working and the only medical doctor, he is integral to the survival of the town. Admiral Sam Hazzard is a retired admiral who settled in Fort Repose before "The Day". At times tactless, but honest and forthright, he says it like it is and is blessed with a little inside knowledge of how the military and government works. I found this to be a well-written story, the characters well thought out and well-fleshed out. The story had some depth. I should warn you that the "N" word and the term "negro" are both used quite extensively throughout this book, as it takes place in the south in the heat of the unrest preceding the civil rights movement. That's not to say that the book necessarily has a racist bent, as it actually portrays the local black family (the Henry family) in a very positive light, and the racists in town as arrogant ignoramus. The attack is quite realistic, as is the reaction of the people. You can feel the confusion and tension and fear as the people try to understand what has happened, and how to deal with it. You shake your head at the people who still haven't grasped the gravity of the situation, and treat it as a temporary inconvenience. You wonder how they will deal with the lack of water, and with trade shutdown everyone is forced to become "locavores" and survive on whatever may be found within walking distance of home. Trade is a necessity, new skills are learned. Man adapts and survives. I liked it. I liked the people, I liked that it took place in my own backyard, I liked that it was quite real, when I am used to reading fantastical post-apocalyptic zombie lit. I just plain liked it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Boring yet Outstanding

    Yes, once you pick up the book, you will be bored out of your mind unless you are into military stuff. Reaching chapter 4 or 5 the pace picks up and the book becomes an easy read from there, not mentioning if you have to annotate or what not. This book is an optimistic read, and depicts and great picture if something terrible did happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2006

    Amazing, but...

    This book is a truly fascinating look at how nuclear war would ultimately effect the lives of the inhabitants of a small town. Written in a time when such a war was an imminent threat, this stands as a monument to a fear that this generation has not experienced. Many people say that the beginning was slow, but I think otherwise. I was captivated by the entire story, until the very last page. The ending was the biggest let-down of modern fiction. But, this should not keep you from reading this book, as it is a classic in every way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    For a book they make you read for school, it wasn't too bad

    I started reading Alas Babylon with a really bad attitude, mostly because my English teacher made us look way too deep into it. But when I stopped reading for a requirement and started reading for myself, I started to really enjoy it. What the people suffered was so really and so horrific, I know I'd never be able to do that. Surviving alone seemed such an impossible task, it was incredible. Yeah, the first 100 pages were boring, but I still thought it was an incredibly true to life book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    Surprisingly good!!!

    When I first started this book for my English class I thought 'Oh no, another war book.' But it surprised me and turned out to be really good! It was very entertaining to see how they learned to survive after The Day. This book was really good!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2004

    Old material- with a new spin

    Although I am not a child of the Cold War, history repeats itself, as the saying goes, and this book still has importance. With the events in Libya and elsewhere, Alas, Babylon brings up in startling detail the repercussions of a nuclear attack and the scale of nuclear war. There are some things that I never would have thought about that the author brings up in the book- like gold being contaminated for eons (and I just found out that gold naturally occurs in our water supply). The determination of the characters to survive is amazing. I think there are a few typos, but nothing too serious. Enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2003

    Great read

    I recieved this book as a gift for Christmas and just reciently got around to reading it. It's a pretty great read. Beggening this novel, I thought its message would be antiquated, as it is that it was written in 1959, but it totally wasn't. It's pretty easy to read, and pretty quick. Subsequently, I finished it in about a week, which is pretty fast for me. Not to say that this book is thematically simple. Quite the opposite. It is merely simple in its style, but its theme will hold the attention of any demanding reader. I found the beggening and ending to be a little slow, but still great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2002

    Hotting up in Florida

    A must read book for all people like myself who are suckers for the good old end of the world story. By a quirk of fate a group of Florida residents are spared after a nuclear exchange with Russia. How they survive is their story, read on.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 1999

    Really Hits Home

    We read this book in my Honors English class, and I found myself reading really far ahead. I've never read such a wonderful book about surviving a nuclear attack. I would personally like to applaud Pat Frank for his great character development and really good use of allusion in his title.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted August 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted October 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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