Survival Book Review: ‘Alas, Babylon’

Review: ‘Alas, Babylon’

Genre: Fiction

RATING: 5 out of 5

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, is the survival fictional story of a nuclear attack on America by the Soviet Union.

Set in Ft. Repose, Florida, the book follows the trials and tribulations of a group of people who are fortunate enough to live in an area with no exposure to nuclear blast or fallout

In fact, the nuclear aspect plays an almost insignificant part of this story.

This is about a small community, cut off from the rest of the nation, and their attempt to survive the shortages and chaos that ensues in the months following the attack.

Meet Randy Bragg

alas babylon summary
Still one of my best fictional survival books

Randy Bragg is a Ft. Repose resident and his brother Mark is a military intelligence officer.

When war becomes inevitable, Mark sends his family to live with Randy in Florida with a telegram that includes the phrase, “Alas, Babylon.” This was their pre-arranged code for imminent disaster, and the telegram gives Randy time to make some hasty preparations.

Alas, Babylon is clever and fascinating.

I first read this book in 1980 and have read it several times since then.

It is still one of my favorite books.

Amazingly, Alas, Babylon was originally published in 1959 and is still in print today. That is a testament to the quality of this book.

The fictional survival book focuses not only on how the people deal with the disaster, but also how they deal with each other in a time of great stress. Sometimes they band together to face the shortages and criminals; sometimes relationships come unraveled.

For the survival-minded prepper, there is much to be learned from this book: timeless lessons in preparation for the aftermath of disaster.

The beauty of this book is that these lessons are universal for almost any disaster preparation: economic collapse, pandemic, war, or any situation that causes long term shortages of food and electricity.

Even though EMP was unheard-of when this book was written, the preparations you could learn from Alas, Babylon would be particularly useful in the event of an electromagnetic pulse attack.

This is not the typical modern post-apocalyptic book, with more attention paid to gratuitous violence than quality writing.

If you can overlook the fact that the material is mildly dated, Alas, Babylon is an entertaining education of which skills and resources will be vital in the aftermath of a disaster.

It is a great book.