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The Death of Grass

Narrated by: William Gaminara
Length: 6 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A viral strain has attacked rice crops in East Asia, causing massive famine; soon a mutation appears that infects the staple crops of West Asia and Europe, such as wheat and barley, threatening a famine engulfing the whole of the Old World, while Australasia and the Americas attempt to impose rigorous quarantine to exclude the virus.

Christopher's classic post-apocalyptic novel follows the struggles of architect John Custance and his family as they make their way across an England that is rapidly descending into anarchy, hoping to reach the safety of John's brother's farm in an isolated Westmorland valley. Along the way, they find they must sacrifice many of their morals in order to stay alive.

Here is an unusual and absorbing piece of science-fiction about the relentless transformation of civilisation when the balance of nature is upset.

©1956 Samuel Youd (P)2011 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"I admire The Death of Grass. It was published at roughly the same time as The Day Of The Triffids. In my judgement, it is by far the better book. It is a thrilling and sensible work." (Brian Aldiss)
"Gripping! Of all science fiction's apocalypses, this is one of the most haunting." ( Financial Times)
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superb, but grim

This remains a genuinely frightening book. The story is spare and perfectly plotted. A minor weakness that is not of it's own making, is that when written the war was recent history that would be expected to shape the responses of people at large. It is harder to feel confident in how groups would respond today. A closer to this day analogue is The Road, but it really dodges the question of the first day, which this book fearlessly tackles

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Very English but oh so good

An end of civilization novel by John Wyndham that raises interesting questions. Are we doomed to repeat the actions of the past? Where does a person's loyalty lie?

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  • Richard Ferrie
  • 30-06-2018

Surprising Rediscovery

This book has haunted me since I read it as a young teen many decades ago. It came into my hands as an item from the Science Fiction Book Club subscription series. Sheltered, innocent for my age, I knew that I didn't understand certain aspects of the book. Perhaps some of my appreciation now comes from filling in those blanks. But I expected something else, something raggeder, less concise and unflinching. I recognize here the obvious origins of McCarthy"s THE ROAD as well as several recent post-apocalypse films. This is anything but a young adult book. It is a small masterpiece.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-03-2011

Excellent, frightening story

This story is terrifying, and it is sad that one can imagine this would be a likely scenario given such events. It is well paced and moves along nicely. If you like end of the world science fiction, you will probably like this.

One warning however, there is an introduction in which someone tries to place the novel in its literary istorical context and comment on various aspects of it. Though interesting, the reviewer gives away major portions of the plot and dialogue and it really hurts the story. I advise you skip that as it contains significant story spoilers, and listen to it afterward, if you are curious.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-06-2020

Love this author, since I was little!

Frighteningly similar to our times at present. Author a visionary. Strong grasp of human nature. Story well done and keeps the reader gripped.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-2020

A New Virus: Imaginative & Very Believable Novel

I first read ``The Death of Grass'' in the early 1970's when it was reprinted as a ``Science Fiction Classic.'' The book is indeed a Classic and I enjoyed listening to it in 2020 as much as I enjoyed reading it some 40 years ago.
The author explores the impact on modern society when a new virus attacks grasses worldwide. How quickly society crumbles in panic and what an ``average man'' does to protect his family and those that are attracted to him because of his leadership.
The narrator, William Gaminara, does wonderful work on assuming the distinct accents of a variety characters.
``The Death of Grass'' also stands as an introduction to the future world as portrayed in the recently published ``The Second Sleep by Robert Harris.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • 18-08-2011

The end of the world as seen from the 1950's

I fondly remembered reading John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy as a child so when I came across this I leapt at the chance to listen to one of his books for adults. I was not disappointed.

The publisher's summary offers a useful guide to the plot and the comparisons with Day of the Triffids are obvious. What was more striking (as the book progressed) were the echoes of Lord of the Flies (published two years earlier); the difference being that Golding chose to examine the impact upon children of their removal from civilization whereas Christopher describes the possible impact upon adults of a breakdown in civil society.

The result is fascinating and sometimes illuminating even if it ultimately remains a book of its time and William Gaminara does an inspired job of animating the relatively large cast of characters.

If you do choose to download then one last piece of advice. The recording includes an introduction by Robert Macfarlane. This is interesting but includes a number of significant spoilers. I therefore rather think that it would have been better included as an afterword. The novel proper begins with a "prodrome" at 19mins 40 secs and I would therefore recommend that you speed forward to that and listen to the introduction at the end.

65 people found this helpful

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  • Laura
  • 05-01-2015

One of my favourite books of all time

This is an incredible book and it is really well read. I would really recommend reading or listening to this one- probably one of my all time favourites.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Prester Jim
  • 11-06-2020

The Dearth Of Laughs

Dour British post-Apocalyptic yarn originally written in 1956 by Tripods author John Christopher. Similar to his contemporary John Wyndham, Christopher's characters and attitudes are based in a parochial post-war middle-class sensibility and, like Wyndham, soured by a profoundly bleak view of humanity. Essentially, unpleasant people doing horrible things with unseemly haste, this novel is like a parody of castaways descending into cannibalism ten minutes after being washed ashore. Whilst his grim assessment may not necessarily be wrong, it, like the novel, leaves a bitter taste.
William Gaminara does his usual professional job on the narration.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-06-2019

Great idea especially timely

I love a cosy catastrophe book, this is not that!
I found myself annoyed at how quickly people started raping and pillaging after like a day of the.'catastrophe' get a grip!

2 people found this helpful

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  • carl
  • 01-02-2018

Overall a good read

The writing style is showing its age, this book lacks any science and its very old fashioned, however I quite liked the book overall.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steve S
  • 08-09-2017

Odd plot but OK

You have to you suspend disbelief to accept the plot on this one. If you can do that then it is actually an okay story. Nothing more though.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Roderic
  • 20-01-2014

A satisfying Post-Apocalyptic Offering

Would you listen to The Death of Grass again? Why?

This sort of book is not one I would listen to again, though I enjoyed it once. A lot revolves around the plot, but I now know what happens next.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr
  • 07-04-2013

How humans change!

A simple premise - the death of grass leads to world-wide famine and the ensuring chaos. Often chosen as a secondary school text for study due to the character dimensions that change rapidly as a result of the situation. When faced with survival - how would you change? What would you do? What wouldn't you do? A fantastic story, quite grim too.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-04-2020

Excellent story

A great book, somewhat obvious foreshadowing but didn't detract from the story. it's of the same standard as a John Wyndham novel. I will definitely listen to it again in another year or two, if Corona virus hadn't gotten us all by then

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-04-2020

Forgotten Goodness.

It is many many years since I first read this story - and had forgotten what a cracking tale it is. It is a great story telling tale- an ideal audible book!
Of course it's grim, it's dated and many of the characters are a bit shallowly defined and even caricatured - but it fair moves along and holds the attention as a story.
The speed and scale of the social breakdown is undoubtedly exaggerated though as is the rapid slip of the characters moral sense - a bit far fetched in my opinion.