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Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank– A Post Apocalyptic Novel

Updated on August 24, 2012
Alas Babylon
Alas Babylon

Alas, Babylon summary

Alas,Babylon, the celebrated work of Pat Frank bound to a specific time and place. Alas,Babylonis a classical work that depicts a crucial period in world history. The novel describes the peak of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and theUnited States. Alas,Babylonis set in the 1950s inFortRepose, a small town in centralFloridaon theTimucuanRiver. As the novel begins, relations between theUnited Statesand theSoviet Unionare found to be worsening. We find the two powers heading to a nuclear war. The novel explains the story of a war that did really happen. The scenario that is explained as the war accounted for a destructive nuclear struggle that collapsed civilization in theUnited States. The arrival of war features two major factors. First is theSoviet Union's attempt to dominate or conquer the Mediterranean area. The second factor constitutes the ‘missile gap’ that provides the Russians with an extra edge. Their advancements in missile technology triggered them to launch a surprise attack on theUnited States, who had an inferior missile technology. However these political scenarios are of secondary importance in the novel. The story is explained through Mark Bragg, who first explains the scenario to his brother Randy. After the war, the world appears to be nothing except for some occasional radio broadcasts.

Alas, Babylon post-apocalyptic fiction

Alas, Babylon Analysis - The novel is focused on ordinary people and not on the crucial matters of international politics. The narrative of the novel fixes his eyes on small town ofFort Repose,Florida. He is trying to explain how the residents ofFloridadeal this critical situation. Looking from this angle, Alas,Babyloncan well be called as an optimistic novel. The novel looks into a hidden chapter of the cold war. Instead of concentrating on the political scene, the novel is taking the readers to the plight of common people. The tone of the novel contrasts sharply with the features of post-apocalyptic fiction, in which we find the nuclear wars destroying the whole population and bringing ultimate damage to humanity, bringing them back to a Stone Age existence. The novel looks into the affairs of the common man, narrating their sufferings. While looking into the town that is portrayed we find that there is no water or power supply there. People are forced to start using the old farming techniques that have been used by their grandparents several years ago. Order collapses inFortRepose. However we find the order restored along the course of the novel. This is accomplished through portraying friendship and cooperation between the principal characters, which are admirable sympathetic figures. Even though racism is mentioned in the beginning of the novel, it doesn’t turn out to be an issue after the war. Conflict between the major characters is almost absent. Threat comes from outside sources, from gangsters and one-dimensional drug addicts. Towards the end of the novel we findFortReposefreed from several issues like radiation poisoning, crime and food shortages.FortReposeonce again becomes a good place where people can peacefully thrive. We find the residents deciding to remain in their place and rebuilding their house and refusing to go when a helicopter arrives to take the residents to a safer place.

Alas, Babylon themes - post-nuclear war novel

Apart from this optimistic view of the human spirit, the novel also portrays optimism on a different style, through Randy Bragg, the protagonist. As we initially meet Randy, we see him as a likeable man who failed in his attempts. He is facing a decline in his life because of his failure. He is deprived of a job and makes a living through the earnings from his family land. By the closing of the nuclear war, however, we find Randy completely transformed. He decides to take the responsibility as a family man and establishes relationships with his friends. This is a perfect example Fort Repose ascending to order, culture and civilization. We find the brave doctor Dan Gunn, Randy attempting to construct a safe, sustainable place for his family and neighbors (on River Road). He further uses his power as an officer in the Army Reserve to take responsibility for law and order in Fort Repose. He deals well with outlaws establishing law and order and keeping peace. We find him becoming a classic American hero, or a reluctant sheriff who takes the responsibility for law and order in the frontier town.

Alas, Babylon – a post-atomic war story

post-nuclear war novel

Alas Babylonis a post-apocalyptic fiction novel. The title of the novel is derived from Revelation 18:10. We read in the Revelation that “Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour is thy judgment come.” The title words are interpreted frequently in the text as we find the characters reminding each other of an impending crisis, like the hazard caused by a nuclear attack. The author interprets ‘Alas, Babylon’ as an imminent nuclear holocaust. Alas, Babylon explains fallout and radiation as an invisible threat of nuclear war. This is different from other accounts on nuclear war that explains nuclear war as a ‘cloud of death’. The novel gives out the message that human beings can thrive in any atmosphere if they are willing to take the challenge. In the novel we find the human race coming to life from ashes like a phoenix bird. They successfully reestablish their empire though they experienced a complete annihilation. The book is therefore optimistic, bringing out the theme that if you really desire to thrive, you can do it by accepting the reality and building from the ashes. Alas, Babylon considers the nuclear war as debatably winnable. As the Air Force personnel find Randy and his fellow survivors, they enquire about the outcome of the nuclear war. They get the reply that "We won it. We really clobbered 'em!" The value of this victory is questioned, even by the speaker, who adds, "Not that it matters"; he has already explained that the "victorious" United States now has a smaller population than pre-war France, and will be accepting lend-lease shipments of foodstuffs from South America, Thailand, and Indonesia. This very dialogue explains the irony of the war that leaves just few survivors. The United States theory of M.A.D. is the demonstration of the concept that large-scale nuclear war is not winnable.

Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Alas, Babylonportrays the post-apocalyptic period as a grave but survivable period. The novel says that it is possible for certain communities to survive in those adverse conditions. The author Alas, Babylonbrings out the possibility of life and survival even from the so called contamination zones. Alas, Babylonwas written before the world came to know the disastrous aftereffects of nuclear winter and electromagnetic pulses. These results of nuclear were discovered recently. The novel, otherwise, is very much accurate in explaining the effects of a nuclear attack and its real consequences. In the novel we find theUS government functioning in the uncontaminated areas, trying to help the survivors in the contaminated zone. This depiction is very different from other book and movies about nuclear war. Alas,Babylon gives challenging views on nuclear wars and its aftermath. Pat Frank’s idea of human sustenance after a complete devastation is fantastic. The novel says that in spite of losing everything in the war, human beings can still attempt to survive by adopting the measures used by our forefathers who used simple methods of cultivation and life sustenance.

Alas, Babylon - story of a future nuclear war

Alas, Babylon explain what it could be like if there happens a nuclear war. The book gives us some idea how can we think of a survival if we happen to be in a world after a nuclear war. The book gives some great idea of survival even if everything is destroyed and there is no means of survival. With no electricity, drinking water, and communication means, we find human beings building from the ruins. They had no inbound shipments of food and necessary accessories. They turn to nature and old ways of survival of primitive man, when everything fails. The book educates the readers about the survival techniques aftermath a nuclear war. Alas, Babylon is recommended to each and every human being who is likely to face a similar scenario. The novel would make them understand their right to survive and will teach them how to survive.


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    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      Thank you LABrashear for the comment..ur is the first comment to this hub..many are not familiar with this book

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      What a great analysis of this book. It is a great learning tool for all humanity. I think most people have forgotten where their food comes from and how to survive without technology. We read it in middle school...I think everyone should have to read it as a reminder. Voted up!