Alas, Babylon

Pat Frank

About the Author

Harry Hart Frank, whose pen name is "Pat Frank", was an American newspaperman and writer between 1908 and 1964. Many only know him for his novel Alas, Babylon, but he also wrote other novels; for example, Mr. Adam and Forbidden Area. Frank lived to experience both World Wars, so his experience in the military and political fields influenced many aspects of Alas, Babylon.
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Main Conflict/ Plot teaser

Alas, Babylon takes place in the Cold War era. When an American pilot accidentally destroys an ammunition depot in Latakia, Russia immediately sees it as an excuse to bomb the United States. The Day, as the people of Fort Repose refer to it as, was the annihilation of the eastern part of the U.S., just as Mark Bragg, a military officer, had predicted. The story continues after the Day with the actions taken by members of the small, miraculously spared community of Fort Repose, Florida in order to survive. Electricity, the value of the dollar, fuel, and outside communications - these no longer are part of daily life. Gangs and robbers threaten peace. Modern civility has taken a turn for the worst. Is there any hope for ordinary people facing enemies that they can and cannot see?
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Main Characters

Randolph Bragg: A handsome young man who becomes the leader of the petite town of Fort Repose. He has a misunderstood reputation within the community but becomes essential to the town's survival.

Mark Bragg: Randy's older brother who warns him of the impending disaster ahead. He works for the military.

Edward Quisenberry: The town banker. He is a reflection of the tragedy of loving money too much.

Helen Bragg: Randy's sister-in-law who is sent to live with him by her husband, Mark. Her two kids are Peyton and Ben Franklin.

The Henry's: Randy's African American neighbors who contribute immensely to the functionality of Fort Repose. Malachai, Two-Tone and Preacher Henry influence Randy's decisions throughout the book.

Dan Gunn: The town's only doctor who plays an important part of the people's health.

Passage

Randy was thoughtful. Hunting cats would be a problem. And what would happen to dogs? He still had a few cans of dog food for Graf, but he could foresee a time when humans might look upon dog food as a delicacy. He said aloud, but speaking to himself rather than the others, "Survival of the fittest" (Frank 176).


This realization of Randy is a major theme of the book. Survival of the fittest refers to what the author thought would happen if the luxuries of a first-world life were wiped out. For example, people with medical issues who need medicine in order to survive; they would have no access to new medication. Pets would turn into scavengers and household fish would die. Frank is explaining that this is a situation that is not impossible for modern day.
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Who will Enjoy the Book?

This book is for select readers. If you find war, apocalypses, or struggles to maintain civility interesting, this book would be a perfect match for you. Alas, Babylon provides an informational point of view on what you will need to survive if you do not have electricity or a supermarket to shop at.

Book Review

This novel starts out slow and stays unfortunately so as the story progresses. The main thing I took away from this book was how realistic and frightening it would be if the United States was destroyed in such a horrific way. Luxuries like coffee, fruit, vegetables, cell phones, and heating and cooling systems (just to name a few) may not be accessible anymore. Many would turn to robbery, and wherever you went you would have to carry something to defend yourself. Water may no longer run from the sink. As scary as it is, Alas, Babylon paints a very realistic situation like this. Although, thankfully, if one does read this book, they will have a good idea of what to have in stock in case of an apocalypse.

Citations

  • Miller, Wayne. "Results from Atom Bomb Blast in Hiroshima, Japan." Wikimedia

Commons. N.p., 2 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 May 2013.
<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
File:Navy_photographer_pictures_suffering_and_ruins_that_resulted_from_atom_bomb_
blast_in_Hiroshima,_Japan._Japanese..._-_NARA_-_520932.jpg>.

  • "Radiation Warning Symbol." Wikimedia Commons. N.p., 2 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 May

2013. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
File:Radiation_warning_symbol.svg>.

  • International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons 's buddy icon International
    Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons 's photostream. "US Nuclear Weapons
    Test at Eniwetok in 1956." Flickr. Yahoo, 5 Sept. 2012. Web. 16 May 2013.
    <http://www.flickr.com/photos/30835738@N03/7936245522/>.

  • Frank, Pat. Alas, Babylon. New York: HarperCollins, 1959. Print.