Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Book thoughts: Alas, Babylon

Posted by Lissa on August 11, 2008

According to the book jacket, it’s the 35-year anniversary edition of Pat Frank’s masterpiece.  I found it in the book rack of our floor’s eating-area and couldn’t resist taking it home with me.  (I’ll replace it with something else, honest.)  I first read this book maybe fifteen years ago and it’s one of those stories that you instantly know you can re-read a zillion times.  No spoiler alert is necessary, anymore than it was for Batman; it’s about a little town in Florida and its struggles to survive after World War III.  (As written in the book, it’s just called The Day; when civilization retreats a hundred years in 24 hours, it doesn’t really seem like a war.)

What’s interesting is that I find the story much more thought-provoking than I did fifteen years ago.  Is it because I’m getting older?  Does it have to do with the mindset shift?  I imagine tis some combination of both.  Whatever the reason, when I read it in high school I considered it a story in line with Gone with the Wind: a good story about surviving hard times.

Now, I look at a full-scale nuclear war as unlikely.  On the flip side, I consider a full-scale breakdown of civilization as an actual possibility, if a remote one (I hope).  And I look around at my life and I feel woefully unprepared.

What if a terrorist incident such as a dirty bomb hit Boston?  Would the fallout reach Lissaville (Home of the Evil Conservatives)?  How is it possible to keep stores of food and ammo sufficient to withstand such a catastrophe while living in an apartment in the Volksrepublic of Massachusetts?

Worse yet, what if somehow we did have The Day?  Here in Lissaville I’m pretty far from good farmland.  I suppose I have a decent water source in the Charles River, assuming I can figure out transportation, a means to tote potable water and enough fuel to boil it.  What about food?  What about relatives?  Would I head to Liberalville where my folks live because they’re closer to pastureland and farmland?  What if communication broke down and they headed out to Boston to look for us, but we’d already left for Liberalville?  Seeing as how no one in my family goes armed, what would we do for self-defense?

Ten years ago I laughed at the paranoid preparations of the V’s, parents of my friend from Liberalville Regional High School.  They kept a pantry stocked full of enough canned/non-perishable food to last at least a couple months down in their basement.  Now, I read through blogposts deliberating on which guns are best for home-defense, exactly how much ammo and food are required, how to prepare for the end of the world, and I think, “How wise of them to be prepared.  How responsible they are, to provide for the defense and survival of their family members.”  I’m not laughing anymore.

Do most people have an apocalypse plan?  Do you think about how to contact family members if phone lines go down?  Do you have a meeting place set out?  An evac route?  Do you have those stores of food and ammo?

I don’t.  Yet.  But I will.

 . . . famous last words of the unprepared . . .

8 Responses to “Book thoughts: Alas, Babylon”

  1. Sarah said

    Loved this book. Read it right when my husband started the Army and was totally freaked out.

    Had the same feeling when I read War of the Worlds and realized that I don’t know how to forage and I might not be able to kill and eat a dog.

    I honestly have been thinking lately about setting a meeting place. I don’t really know what made me start thinking about it.

    And I’d like to buy a firearm.

    We have a box of MREs. I’d share with you, you know.

  2. Hi Lissa-

    Being prepared with emergency supplies is much the same as being prepared for self-defense. Both require planning, acquisition of hard goods, & knowing how to use them.
    ‘Course, knowing how to use food isn’t much of a learning curve for most of us…

    There a many resources out there, one to which the Mrs. & I subscribe to is “Backwoods Home” magazine. It’s full of good stuff on doing it without “social” support, as many of the contributors do just that on a daily basis.

    The interwarb has a lot of info as well- but much is written by “wannabees”, self-styled “survivalists”, alarmists, & dreamers.

    This subject is WAY to big for a comment, but if we can help you in some manner, please let us know.

    Good luck!

  3. lookingforlissa said

    Thankyousir! Although, the “knowing how to use food” . . . you DO realize I have a whole series on “The domestication of Lissa”? 🙂

  4. lookingforlissa said

    Whoops, Sarah’s got caught in queue! Just put War of the Worlds on my Kindle; I assume that it differs just slightly from the Tom Cruise movie??

  5. leathergirl said

    Hi Lissa,
    “Mrs. Doubletrouble” here, from the Sooper Seekrit Bloggershoot location. Please continue to give “ book reviews”, I’m always looking for books to read. We both really liked ‘Alas Babylon’, had never heard of it before your post.

    If you can find it, read “Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse” by James Wesley Rawles. I don’t think it’s quite as well written as some other novels, but still a good read. The first chapter deals with the collapse of the US due to a major financial crisis that escalates out of control. It’s more than a little chilling, given today’s market.
    The Bloggershoot was lots of fun, hope we get to do it again!

  6. […] by Lissa on October 12, 2008 Leathergirl (aka Lady Doubletrouble) was kind enough to leave a comment requesting more book reviews; apparently she and the Mister both enjoyed Alas, Babylon but had not […]

  7. […] virtue of my Alas, Babylon thoughts I’m already way ahead of most of my colleagues when it comes to disaster planning . . . […]

  8. […] this review of “Alas, Babylon”? I re-read it yesterday and came across the following passage on […]

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