Book Review: Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon
By Pat Frank

When one feels like they are having a bad day, or week, or month, or even year, one can always pick up a post-apocalyptic classic novel and realize, "Hell, things could be worse." Alas, Babylon was exactly what I needed: a nightmarish classic, with excellent writing, good dialogue and interesting, but not obnoxious characters. This is a wonderful book.

While the meat and potatoes of this story was the fact the United States was in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union back in the red scare era, it is really so much more. I loved how Frank wove in all types of story elements - including psychology, racism, violence, feminism, romance. Although I'm not a huge fan of the zombie stuff out now, I think those types of stories were inspired by Frank. He shows us how greed can destroy, poverty and hunger can turn people to animals and how a community can come together to overcome incredible change. Of course, my favorite part of the book was what a huge part the library played after the nuclear holocaust. With no electricity, you had to read and research the old fashioned way. The librarian and local teacher become the center of the community's education. It's kind of strange to think about.

It's interesting to see imagine how people react when it's just humanity versus the elements and no modern luxuries like electricity in between. I thought the Black Out of 2003 was pretty apocalyptic and that lasted just a few days. What a damn fiasco. It was bad when the super storm hit New York, but then things started getting back to normal slowly. In Alas, Babylon, the author explores further and further beyond a complete nuclear showdown to end all showdowns. No electricity, hardly any government left, and a significantly harmed planet. It made me think of a quote by Albert Einstein: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

Come on, doesn't that make you feel better about life already?

At the end of the book, I loved learning more about Frank. He was born in Chicago, IL and went to Florida for college. He dropped out and became a journalist and then an information professional and consultant in Washington. Guy sounded like a bad ass. It'd be interesting to review his other literary and journalistic works.

I only picked up one quote from the book, but it a perfect quote for me right now. It's about the protagonist: "In everything he did, now, he found he looked into the needs of the future."


See what else I read: http://pinterest.com/evagg/books-i-ve-read/

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