FLORIDA – Anyone older than 50 will remember the classroom safety exercise that taught children what to do when there was a direct nuclear attack on their town. It usually involved ducking and covering under a wooden school desk.
Of course, with North Korea, Russia and Iran threatening the U.S. today, nuclear survival is important again. The public’s interest in surviving an attack is at an all-time high.
Even local governments on America’s west coast are running nuclear bomb drills in anticipation of a missile attack from N. Korea.
So, it was not a complete surprise when “Alas, Babylon” popped up in a recent book search. It also wasn’t a surprise that the 58-year-old novel stood out.
Written and set in the 1950s, on many levels it is a throwback to a different time, yet the lessons are relevant today.
Readers also should recognize it as one of the original survival novels. And, it should easily satisfy those looking for a compelling fix.
Written by Pat Frank, a journalist and a consultant with government entities like the Office of Civil Defense, “Alas, Babylon” illuminates the fears that engulfed people during the Cold War. Yet, it serves as a modern reminder that man is just as close to destroying our world today as it was then.
Considered a Modern Classic by publisher HarperCollins, it also is one of Amazon’s most “noteworthy” fiction offerings on Audible.
A Story of Nuclear Survival and Rebuilding
In a small central Florida town, Randy Bragg is considered a tortured soul of the 1950s. He comes from a line of successful military and government leaders, and expects greatness for his life.
But his first and only political race, he takes the loss hard and copes by womanizing, and drinking, while living in his family’s pre-Civil War mansion.
When his brother, an Air Force officer, sends a cryptic telegram warning of an imminent nuclear attack, Randy must quickly learn how to survive amidst civilization’s collapse.
Can he sober up and step up to help his family and friends?
The story includes a full cast of rounded characters that will make readers laugh and cry. As they deal with the imminent attack and its aftermath, readers witness how a small town survives with nuclear annihilation all around.
There are plenty of thrills and drama to drive the story, and yet, it manages to be both affirmative and cautionary.
On the affirmative side, it celebrates human creativity and the desire to rebuild the community as only a classic could.
On the cautionary side, it is as powerful as Biblical on which its title is derived. Coming from Revelation 18:10 – “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgement come” – the novel is as poignant today as it was 58 years ago. And as scary.
When all the modern conveniences are gone, the troubles and struggles can be educational, inspirational and emotional.
Even as Randy and his group encounter a sort of rescue, the fact remains that this new world faces a “thousand-year night.”