What would have happened to America if the Soviets had actually dropped atomic bombs all over the country? It is this question that Pat Frank explores in his apocalyptic novel Alas, Babylon. Reading this book here in 2009 is a little scary...the threats are a bit different but still read. But this book was written in 1959, during the arms race with Russia and only a few years after Sputnik was launched.
The story revolved around Randy Bragg, a bachelor living in a small Florida town. When his brother Mark sends his family to live with Randy, Randy know that Mark's warnings about an imminent nuclear attack were no overreaction. And it comes. And it is devastating.
It is not just the radiation that is terrifying, it is the loss of electricity, the onset of disease, the lack of food, the lawlessness. Randy and the people he cares about have to navigate a completely new society, hoping that eventually they can create one in which they are not fighting for survival every day.
I loved this book. I loved it and was frightened by it and appreciated it what it must have been like to read this book back in the 1950s/60s. It is an apocalyptic story that depicts a fairly plausible series of events - and that's why it is so alarming.