by Pat Frank
"In Fort Repose, a river town in Central Florida," an early December Friday dawns warm and peaceful. There are rumblings of potential crisis from the outside world--"The Russians had sent up another Sputnik, No. 23, and something sinister was going on in the Middle East"--but the citizens of Fort Repose bask in their small-town peacefulness. Then Randy Bragg, the younger son of a prominent local family--lawyer, Korean War vet, and unsuccessful candidate for the state legislature--receives a Western Union cable from his older brother, Mark, a colonel in the Strategic Air Command. Mark's cable includes a code phrase used by the brothers since childhood to indicate imminent disaster: "Alas, Babylon." Randy correctly concludes that nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union is in fact imminent. On Saturday morning, The Day, Randy wakes to "a long, deep, powerful rumble" and a second sunrise glow to the south. So begins the struggle of Fort Repose to survive the unimaginable. Against all the odds, the citizens of this small town are spared the immediate and worst effects of nuclear attack. But they escape neither the secondary consequences nor their own human limitations. As staples and services disappear--first the phone lines, then money, then gas, then electricity, then food and medications, then running water--they cope with a world in which, in a single day, a thousand years of civilization have been stripped away. In his large home just outside town, Bragg gathers together family members and friends, black and white, in a mutually supportive battle against disaster. Eventually Randy, as a lieutenant in the Army Reserve, will have to assume command of the entire town. In the meantime, through the year that follows The Day, all the human strengths and frailties come into play, with the fates of ordinary people hanging in the balance. Pat Frank's classic post-apocalyptic novel remains "an extraordinarily real picture of human beings numbed by catastrophe, but still driven by the unconquerable determination of living creations to keep on being alive."
From publisher web page www.harpercollins.com
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