Monday, April 13, 2009
Book Review - "One Second After"
Since my last book review, I've probably read more than 3 dozen books. They aren't reviewed up here, though one or two are worth the work, but this one has absolutely galvanized me to ensure I tell everyone about it. Written by William Forstchen, it is my first reading of his work, though I have heard he's a good writer.
I heard about it on Nealz Nuze and even though Neal's unimitigated disdain for women drives me insane, I did like the book review so I immediately ordered it from Amazon.
When it came I pulled it from the box of books first and devoured it in one day and night of little sleep. I just couldn't stop.
Right on the cover it says the Foreward is by Newt Gingrich, and I'll admit that is quite off-putting for many, including myself, but trust me when I say that it isn't at all what you might expect from him.
So, what is it about? Wow, I can barely describe what it is about because it is about so many things tied beautifully together. If you go by the bookflap, it is about the after-effects of an EMP burst by unknown enemies, perhaps even terrorists, over the United States. EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), for those who may not know, is often associated with an airburst of a nuclear weapon where radiation is the real problem.
As noted in the book, however, EMP is a powerful weapon in itself and the definitive report on it was unfortunately submitted for our leaders' consideration on the same day the 9/11/01 report was, thus ensuring it was never considered. EMP remains our most vulnerable and easily exploited gap in our freedom and way of life.
Without creating a bunch of spoilers for the book, a single EMP is launched and explodes about 100 miles above the United States, creating an instantaneous overload in any electrical circuit and immediately overheating and destroying any chip not shielded within it's line of sight, which is almost the entire North American Continent at that height. It doesn't create radiation that hurts, doesn't damage buildings or the environment. Everything simply stops and won't start again.
A retired Colonel and now history professor who lives with his 2 daughters in a small western North Carolina town are the main characters and it is about the first year after the EMP.
It is a profoundly moving book and I will say that if you don't cry at least twice in this book, you may not actually have a heart. It is utterly realistic, widely scoped while keeping true to the family at the center, amazingly beautiful and profoundly sad. It will become, I have no doubt whatsoever, a classic like Earth Abides, The Time Machine and Brave New World.
Now, this isn't a Doomer book in any way, shape or form. Not at all. It isn't a military book with loads of hard to imagine movements or people. It isn't a survivalist book where the protagonist seems to know everything and never gets tired. It isn't filled with bad science or incorrect mechanics. What it is: A story of a very realistic family, in a very realistic small town in a very realistic but unfortunate situation.
I really can't recommend this book highly enough. If I could afford it, I would buy hundreds of them and hand them out to people. Take stock of the person you are before you start this book and then again after finishing. If you are at all like me (and many others who have now read it) you'll find that you are no longer the person that started the book. You'll hug your family a bit more, pet your dog with more love, look at our day to day life with more wonder and have a new lease on a brand new life.