Sunday, November 06, 2011

SHTF Fiction: Alas Babylon

Alas Babylon by Pat Frank was written in the late 1950's and describes the effects of a massive nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Specifically, it details the life in small town, Fort Repose, Florida during the first year after the war.

Lauded as one of the best SHTF books written, Alas Babylon follows the life of Randy Bragg, a single lawyer and Army Reserve officer as he pulls together his disparate community following the events of "The Day". Bragg organizes his neighbors on River Road including a retired company president, two spinsters and the ever more useful clan of African-American neighbors, who in a time of segregation and organized prejudice, are more prepared than most of the other townspeople.

Frank accurately describes the possible scenario which leads up to the nuclear war in Alas Babylon. The Soviet Union, using the pretext and cover story of an in accidental attack on a Syrian port by the US Sixth Fleet leads them to launch a pre-emptive strike on the United States with ICBM and sub-based missiles. The US military, at the time of the book's writing, was dependent primarily upon land based bombers carrying nuclear weapons as part of their defensive strategy. The result being World War III lasts several months rather than the few minutes described in most stories.

But readers of Alas Babylon only hear snippets of the big war outside the borders of Fort Repose. The real war for residents is starvation and depredations by raiders and disease. Only a couple of characters fall victim to radiation poisoning while far more are done in by simple violence or abandonment.

Frank covers the immediate effects of a nuclear war on small town America; an out of town visitor upon learning of the destruction of New York City keels over of a heart attack, the bank president whose bank is cleaned out of cash by panic stricken residents commits suicide, vandals from the city attack the towns only medical clinic for morphine, and nearly every business in town, grocery, gas station and hardware store, are emptied of supplies in one day.

The story's hero, Bragg, is given one day's advance notice (actually about twelve hours) of the impending
attack by his brother who is a high ranking officer in the Air Force. Told to expect his sister-in-law and her children, Bragg is given a check for five thousand dollars and told to obtain supplies for the duration. In one of the most frustrating scenes in the book, Bragg manages to make only one trip to the grocery store (to pick up about three hundred dollars in food), fills up his car with gas and picks up a case and a half of liquor. All the rest of that cash becomes nothing more than toilet paper. Readers like me were screaming at Bragg wanting to know why he did not hit every store between Orlando and Fort Repose.

Further, it is not until after the day after The Day that Bragg realizes he better get some more ammunition for his guns, that he did not obtain salt, paper products, more canned meat, toothpaste and so forth. All that cash his brother gave him went to waste.

To their credit, the characters do get inventive when it comes to making do. They find a salt lick several miles upstream of their home. They make and trade moonshine from their excess corn production. They get rid of their gas guzzling 50's cars in favor of the petrol sipping Model T hidden in a barn. They make medical instruments out of steak knives and fishing line.

By the time the US government arrives, in the form of a single helicopter one year after The Day, Fort Repose is limping along but better off than most of the rest of the country. They have food, trade, law and order and some sembelence of normalcy.

Read this book if you have not yet. Before all the other SHTF fiction came along, Alas Babylon was first. It's a great and compelling read.

You can get Alas Babylon on Amazon of course. It is also available in abridged format online on some websites.

1 comment:

Bets' said...

I have this book,and love it.I never forgot how his niece became so resourceful.I also read Lucifer's Hammer in the 70's and re-read it last year. Of course, Aftershock, which is so much more current and really got me going on prepping.

Tag and Bookmark

Disclaimer - This blog from time to time reviews products on this blog. Some, but not all, of the products reviewed are affiliate market products and do provide compensation to the blog operator. This blog does receive revenue from advertising on this blog and from the sale of products highlighted on the outside columns and frame of this blog.
This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. For legal, medical, financial or any other professional advice, consult with a licensed professional.
We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

Copyright - all content property of 2005 -2011 all rights reserved. Content scrapers and copyright violators will be prosecuted.
storable food, dehydrated food, fod, dry food, food storage, food insurance, freeze dried food, survival food, food sale prices, food sale, bulk food, collapse food, food shortage, survival seeds, non hybrid, non-hybrid, emergency food, dehydrated vegetables, dehydrated mixes, dried produce, spices, whole food, mountain house food, mountain house freeze dried food, alpine aire, alpine aire freeze dried food, alpine air, mountainhouse, richmoor, survival food storage, bird flu, emergency survival, emergency preparation, dehydrated storable food, emergency preparedness, long term food storage, long term water storage, long term storable food, camping food, emergency food storage, food reserves, long term food reserves, storage, long term, long-term, dehydrated, gourmet reserves, long shelf life, no cooking required, food storage systems, non perishable food, non-perishable, no cooking food, non cook food, non-cook food, no cook food, basic needs, basic food storage, dry, dry storable, storage, preparedness, personal preparedness, food supply, supplies, seeds, sprouts, food supplier, survival review, collapse food storage, world food shortage, american food shortage


Tripbase Travel Reviews