Randy Bragg is a 32-year-old Korean War vet living in a small town in central Florida. His brother, Mark Bragg, is a SAC (Strategic Air Command) intelligence officer. When Mark learns that a Soviet nuclear attack on the US is about to happen, he telegraphs a message to his brother with the code words: Alas, Babylon.
The novel has just the right amount of characters to keep it interesting – Randy, sister-in-law Helen, a niece and nephew, Lib the girlfriend, Florence the Western Union operator, Dan the town doctor, Alice the librarian, and the Henrys next door.
There’s a good amount of build-up to the actual crisis, but the nuclear attack is not portrayed in gory detail like some books. The rest of the novel details how they adapted to a radically different world. The skills of their ancestors had to be re-learned, like salting meat and making a water system. They rationed supplies, and learned ways to survive without things that were considered necessities. Racial divides were put aside.
All in all, this is an excellent read, and shows what a person in the 1950’s thought surviving a nuclear attack would be like. This is a good book to compare and contrast with “One Second After” by William Forstchen.