Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I read this book in the 8th grade when the threat of a hydrogen bomb was possible. There were a lot of similar books around, the best known was Hiroshima, but I also remember We Who Survived (the 5th Ice Age).
This book takes place in central Florida around Mt. Dora. It concerns a group of people who band together after a nuclear bomb. The protagonist, Randy, lives in a very large old southern home. His brother who is high up in the SAC warns Randy that war is coming and that he is sending his wife and children back to the family home for their safety. He also warns Randy that the Civil Defensive is woefully inadequate and that they need to prepare for a disaster no one wants to talk about.
Shortly after his brother's family arrives they see a large bright white light in the direction of Miami and then closer ones near all the big cities and military bases in Florida. As soon as they see the first bomb, Randy begins to prepare in earnest. I think one of the things that makes this book so real is the mistakes they make in the beginning. They treat the bomb as they would a hurricane and go to the grocery store to stock up on food. Unfortunately, they buy groceries as if the power was to be off only for several days...not permanently! Every day they find ways in which their future will be drastically different.
One of the most fascinating thing about this genre is that books of this type actually helped to change the political climate. As people began to explore these disaster scenarios it became apparent that no one could win in this kind of war. The authors' skill in creating a post war reality convinced most countries that war of this type would be a disaster for the whole world.
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