Edge Of Apocalypse – by Tim LaHaye & Craig Parshall (2010)

Edge Of Apocalypse

It had been awhile since I’d read an apocalyptic novel, and this one caught my eye as I browsed the shelves at my public library. It’s the first in a four-book series, “The End”. The novel begins with New York City nearly being obliterated by nuclear warheads fired by North Korea. The United States fights back with an experimental weapon invented by Joshua Jordan, and the city is saved. Suddenly every country on earth wants it. Congress demands the schematics for the weapon, which Joshua is loath to give out, lest it fall into the wrong hands. That begins the political struggle between those who see Joshua as a hero, and those who want him arrested and punished for refusing to share the technology with the country and its allies.

Although I would call the book a political thriller, it does also include a fair amount about Joshua’s relationships with God, his wife, and his son Cal. There is also a friend who is struggling with addiction to anti-depression medicine in the story. The themes of globalism and big media control are also woven into the story.

Author Tim LaHaye is best known for his “Left Behind” series, which I read back in the 90s, when it was on the New York bestseller’s list. This series seems relatively unknown. I have read one other book by the co-author, Craig Parshall – Trial By Ordeal – and found it very entertaining.
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/trial-by-ordeal-by-craig-parshall-2006/

If you like reading end-of-the-world book, you might give this one a try.

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Countdown – by Deborah Wiles (2010)

Countdown

This book, with its “historic fiction” sticker, caught my eye as I walked through my local library. The setting was one not often tackled – what the Cuban missile crisis was like for a kid in 1962. Frannie is 11 years, living with her family just outside the Andrews Air Force Base. Her father is a military pilot, her mother a  housewife, her brother Drew a science nerd, and her older sister Jo-Ellen a person of secrets. Uncle Otts, a traumatized World War II vet, also lives with them.

Life is normal until they start having air raid drills at school, and they see ads for family bomb shelters. Frannie is confused by some people telling her everything will be okay, and others believing that they could be blown to smithereens at any moment.

Mixed in with Frannie’s story are photos from 1962, quotes from President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev,and civil service announcements. The addition of all these pictures make the story more real. It gives the reader a window to see what people were actually seeing in 1962. It was indeed a terrifying thirteen days.

Excerpt from page 201:

(Frannie speaking)
Was it just today that Margie and I had that terrible fight, that I threw up in Mr. Mitchell’s office, that Uncle Otts came home from the hospital, that Gale invited me to her party? All on the same day I found out that I might not live long enough to wake up in the morning? I’d better wrap up everything while I have a chance.

Excerpt from page 254:

“I know all about atoms,” says Drew. He turns his face to me. He’s crying. “Atoms are supposed to be our friends,” he hiccups. “I’m supposed to go to the moon! We’re supposed to use atoms for peace – it says so right here in this book! An atom is like a genie in a bottle, and we can use that genie to go into space and make new discoveries. But we’re making bombs to kill people! People who are made of atoms! It’s all in this book – protons, neutrons, electrons, Madame Curie, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, reactors and rockets and spaceships and stars and planets and the moon!”

Drew is overwrought.

“I’m never gonna get to the moon, because we’re all about to get blown up!”

Alas, Babylon – by Pat Frank (1959)

Alas Babylon

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.