Given my career choice, it’s clear I’m a long-time romance lover. But sometimes, sometimes, I enjoy stories that don’t necessarily focus on happily-ever-afters. Take, for instance, the title in the subject line.
At first glance, you might expect it to be something pulled from the pages of the bible. In some ways, I suppose the whole end-of-the-world scenario would fit. However, this is a story set in the late 1950s in Florida. It’s about a small community and how a worldwide nuclear war changes their lives.
Before ‘the day,’ they enjoyed all of the modern conveniences. An ample food supply at the local grocers, plenty of gasoline to power their automobiles, and things we never give a second thought to – refrigerators, electric lights, toilets that flush. Within a day, it’s all gone and they’re living like early settlers did – just trying to survive and hoping they don’t starve. They also have to worry about radiation, and murderous highwaymen who move from town to town stealing everything they can lay their hands on.
That’s quite a jump from romance, isn’t it? But it goes hand-in-hand with my love of history. Or at least the parts of history that manage to snag my attention. And nuclear war was as big a threat then as it is now.
My sister found an old copy of this book and, based on the blurb on the back, thought it might be something I’d like. She was right. I read it often enough, usually at least once a year, that it literally fell apart. Figuring I’d have to keep it all together with a rubber band because it was so old, I still took a chance and called a small independent bookstore. When the owner said it was available in ‘print-on-demand,’ I practically jumped for joy – and ordered a copy immediately.
This book looks nothing like the one my sister found (on the right at this website), and now the newest edition at Amazon is entirely different – and I don’t know that I particularly like it. Of course, I didn’t like this one until I got used to it either.
Anyway, that was about eight years ago. Both ends of the binding are starting to look a little frayed, the front cover won’t flatten out anymore, the edge is curling a bit, and I can see I’ll eventually have to replace it too. Fortunately, it’s available in digital format now, though I’m not sure I want to read it on my Kindle. There’s just something I’ve come to love about holding Alas, Babylon in my hands and turning well-worn pages.
It’s like revisiting an old friend. I’ve probably read it twenty times – and hope to read it at least that many more. It’s just one of those things I’ll never get tired of, I guess.
I’m not going to do a book review. If you want to learn more about it, you can click on the blue link below. But I will say – this is a great book! If you enjoy something a little different, I highly recommend it.
I’ve learned in the horror genre, it’s really hard to find a happy ending. I’ve had to put aside all books with a sad ending aside for a while. 🙂 But this book does sound intriguing. Maybe when I can get back into that type of book, I’ll pick it up.
Surprisingly, given the subject matter of this book, there aren’t many sad parts in it. Well, there’s one part, but it’s not a reduce you to tears kind of thing. The focus is more on survival – and bringing order back to a world thrown into chaos. At least in that small community.
There’s another book, On The Beach. I think it was written in about the same time period … and I hated it passionately. Not only was it NOT a happily-ever-after story, it was THE most depressing book I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, it’s probably more realistic than Alas, Babylon – if there were ever to be a worldwide nuclear war anyway. Alas, Babylon leaves the reader with a good feeling – like there might be hope that life will go on.
loved this book .. guess that’s why i also love the show “revolution” the show reminds me of this book
It’s just that kind of book, isn’t it? I loved Revolution, too. 🙂
I should add that you are the only other person I’ve heard of who has not only heard of the book, but also read it. 🙂