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Publisher's Summary

This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end - “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly.

But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. Will Patton's narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilites of the nuclear age.

©1959 Harry Hart Frank (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Winner, Fiction, 2012
"An enthralling and vivid story of the follies and failures of people, their courage and cruelty, their treachery and triumphs. Mr. Frank is a magnificent writer." ( Chicago Sunday Tribune)
"A warm, continuously interesting story of what can happen to a group of ordinary people in a perilous situation." ( New York Herald Tribune)
“Will Patton is a calm and steady narrator whose quiet intensity wraps around this post-apocalyptic saga...He reflects the tones of deference of women to men, nonwhites to whites, and children to adults. In a conversational tone, he quietly brings the characters and their relationships to life.” ( AudioFile)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • LC
  • 27-05-2017

Eerily close to home, even today

The United States unintentionally sparks a nuclear war with USSR when a US fighter plane accidentally strikes a base in Syria, resulting in USSR's nuclear retaliation.

Pat Frank might have written this novel in 1959 but swap USSR for Russia and it's a synopsis that could just as easily be drawn from a future headline.

This was the first time I'd read/ listened to Alas, Babylon and I really enjoyed it - particularly the insight it gave me into 1950s nuclear age. Gender roles are strong - men are brave and protective, women stand by their men and children as nurturers and carers and even little boys carry stiff upper lips.

But how interesting it is to see how society breaks down and yet humanity persists in the face of a nuclear war. Now I've read it, I can see where so many other post-apocalyptic novels, films and games have rightfully drawn their inspiration.

A great read - highly recommended.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SomervilleWhereElse
  • 25-12-2010

Amazingly contemporary

This great work of science fiction was written in a different time and world situation, but it feels as fresh as if it was just created. So much of what happens after the nuclear disaster in the book is just what probably would happen now. I have enjoyed every word. Will Patton is the perfect narrator.

67 of 75 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lee
  • 27-12-2010

A griping read!

I grabbed this paperback out of my mother's bookshelf as a bored teenager on summer vacation and I've dragged it around with me for over 30 years! Though the characters are a bit simplistic, the story is riveting.

This story explores what happens when civilization as we know it ceases to exist. How do people survive when there are no safety nets? Decade’s pass and technology marches on, however the story of mankind’s struggle to survive remains pertinent. I actually used this book as a basis for a Sociology paper in college.

The narrator is very good and the story is every bit as good today as it was in 1959.

54 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-12-2010

Excellent 5-star listen

I read this story when it was first released and have replaced my copy several times. It has maintained it's relevancy over the years well. With Will Patton reading, it comes alive. Well worth the money and a continual pleasure in any form.

59 of 67 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JerryL
  • 26-12-2010

Excellent audiobook

It's difficult to believe this book was first published in 1959. The storyline is extremely well thought out, the characters are well defined and very believable.
The book is full of historically accurate facts that take the reader back to the days of what an earlier generation knew as "Mutually Assured Destruction." This audiobook is well worth the investment of your time and money.

78 of 89 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maureen
  • 01-01-2011

Brilliant, classic, timely, characters to love

I hesitated to get this one because it was written in 1959...feared it might be dated, etc. NOT SO! It is amazingly timely and unlike many post-apocyliptic novels it leaves you with a feeling of hope and the desire to do all you can to save our planet and civilization at its best. Hauntingly beautiful descriptions and perfect plot design; I hated to stop the audio and finished it in one weekend. All Americans should know this novel!

49 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Noe
  • 04-01-2011

Outstanding story of post-apocalyse.

As a fan of post-apocalyptic stories and films, especially those created in the 1950s and 60s, this wonderful novel has long been one of my favorites. Although the story is set in the late 50s, one may view it as alternate history. What if on an alternate timeline, a silly mistake triggered a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia at the height of the Cold War? God knows we actually came very close to it a couple of times in the 60s. This excellent novel tells the tale of a small group of survivors trying to survive in rural Central Florida after the bombs fall. It is exciting, uplifting, and highly recommended. Actor Will Patton, who did a superb job on Kerouac's "The Road," is equally brilliant in this reading. He reads the story with warmth and conviction. An all-around marvelous audiobook, and I commend Audible for producing it.

34 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lesley
  • 07-01-2014

One apocalypse--hold the zombies

I've read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction in the last few years. Usually zombies show up, or vampires, or else it's like Mad Max where bands of yahoos roam the wasted countryside, bringing destruction and disorder. Pat Frank's "Alas, Babylon" brings us a different scenario--for a dystopia, this is pretty utopian.

Randy Bragg is a lawyer in Fort Repose, Florida. He's kind of mooching along and drinking too much. Then the bombs fall. The world changes, and Randy changes with it as he finds himself responsible for leading a group of friends and family. Together, they work to survive in the Contaminated Zone. They're lucky--Fort Repose was too far away from the blast zones to get much radiation. With the help of a strong wind on The Day, as they call it, crops and water are spared. It's a matter of working with what they have left.

It's here that the book's original publication year (1959) becomes evident. Blacks and whites are suddenly desegregated--the significance of that may be a puzzle for younger readers, who may not know of awful stuff like "Colored" drinking fountains. They use the CONELRAD system for getting their information--horribly flawed, CONELRAD was replaced in 1963.

Perhaps strangest of all, people seem awfully polite. Fights are few, and the Fort Reposians immediately begin to help each other out in a town-picnic, chore-wheel kind of way. Drama is infrequent. Even the yahoos (who do eventually show up) don't use the f-word. I've heard of worse circumstances in a modern-day high school.

The main lessons of the book are still useful, however. One is, prepare for disaster--physically and mentally; don't expect your hair dryer to work! Another: just because the world changes, it doesn't mean you can't change yourself for the better. And, perhaps most important: stick together and show each other kindness; friends and family are all you really have, especially when the world is a mess.

I can imagine that this book was pretty scary for the Mad Men-era people who read it first. But as I listened to Will Patton's comfortable Carolina accent describing the fear and devastation, I realized why Pat Frank wrote this book--the Fort Repose survivors aren't scientists or world leaders. They're just regular small-town people, and they make it. You can, too.

Recommended for anyone interested in history--whether alternate or real.

31 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-12-2010

Great characters

I really enjoyed this book. I was completely caught up in the lives of the characters after the first few pages. Doesn't really seem dated at all. The narrator was perfect for the time, place and people. Definitely worth a listen.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jefferson
  • 18-10-2011

How We Got Along After the Day

When Randy Bragg, an aimless Korean war vet who has developed a taste for bourbon in his coffee while living in his hometown, Fort Repose, Florida, gets a telegram from his older brother Mark, a Colonel for Strategic Air Command, that closes with "Alas, Babylon," Randy realizes that hydrogen bombs are about to start flying between the USSR and the USA. The rest of Pat Frank's novel, Alas, Babylon (1959), depicts how Randy and his Fort Repose neighbors survive after "the Day" on which the bombs fell. Frank convincingly imagines the geo-politics that could lead to such a war, as well as the social and inter-personal dynamics of survival that would likely follow it.

Frank's novel is a post-holocaust communal Robinsoniad, with key things (like an uncontaminated river, an ancestor's journal, an unlimited source of salt, and even a well-equipped attic) in retrospect a little too convenient for "island" Fort Repose. But I let that pass because I respect and care so much for Frank's characters as they are pushed to their limits to find ways to survive physically and emotionally, and the main thrust of his novel is to test his characters to see which ones will survive with humanity intact and which will not.

I like Frank's attempt at a progressive vision of race (for its time and southern setting), but George Stewart's earlier novel Earth Abides (1949) may be more radical in that respect. In general, Earth Abides is more philosophical, cyclical, beautiful, and moving than Alas, Babylon, which is more political, tactical, exciting, and martial. Alas, Babylon is an anti-nuclear war novel that nevertheless valorizes the heroic American male soldier/leader.

Will Patton's reading of the novel is fine; his voice is appropriately manly and dry with undercurrents of emotion that bring the story to life.

29 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Old Pueblo
  • 27-02-2013

WOW! WOW! WOW!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'd recommend this book to a friend of either sex. The story enrobes you and carries you inside its pocket. You can't get out, even after you've stopped listening for the day, and then it will stay with you long after the story ends.

What about Will Patton’s performance did you like?

I've listened to many audiobbooks narrated by Will Patton - if he's reading, I just know I'll enjoy the book. But this time...he simply nails it, and it sucks you in - it feels like he IS the character he's speaking for. Even the women in the story sound realistic and don't distract. That's a very hard thing to pull off, in my experience with audiobooks.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The story is such a personal one to any of us growing up in the 50's and 60's - Nuclear War's entry into our innocent minds and lives, and the scare that just the possibility of a nuclear bomb's potential put into all of us. It took me right back to that time; worried about who would launch the first bombs and where they would land...the devastation they could cause, the millions of people they could kill - and the impact something like this would have on all of us. Would we even survive it?

Any additional comments?

Please listen to this - you will not regret it. This one's the total package - beautiful, thoughtful writing, believable characters and story development - and an unforgettable performance by Will Patton. It just doesn't get any better.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful