Book Review: Alas, Babylon, by G.P.

In 1957, the Soviets orbited the first Sputnik, bringing a new dimension to the Cold War; and a British engineer and author living in Australia published a popular novel that brought up a new fascination and dread about the nuclear threat. The author was Nevil Shute Norway, writing under his first two names, and the novel was On The Beach. The book was absolutely grim, describing the destruction of the world by nuclear war.

Shute’s Novel – Nuclear Exchange and Extinction of Human Race

A conflict between Albania and Italy (nothing ages faster than world politics) leads to a general nuclear exchange between the great powers. The Northern Hemisphere is poisoned by radiation, with no one left alive. The cloud of radiation is working its way southward through the tropical convergence zones to spread across the Southern Hemisphere and complete the extinction of the human race.

The novel is centered in Melbourne, with the population awaiting its inevitable demise. People act out, singly or in groups, in different ways. The Australian government provides suicide doses to all who want them, as an escape from the grim fate of radiation poisoning. An American submarine conducts a patrol of the American west coast to track down a mysterious radio signal. Does life indeed persist? It proves to be a broken window tapping against a radio key in the wind. The hydroelectric grid has outlasted its builders. In the end, all die, mostly by their own hands.

Alas, Babylon, A Rebuttal To Shute’s Novel

Sixty years ago this summer, a newspaperman named Harry Hart was busy writing a rebuttal to Shute’s novel. It would be published the next year, 1959, under the name Pat Frank and with the title Alas, Babylon. Frank’s vision was of a world where multitudes perished in nuclear conflict, but more multitudes survived, though many would die in the aftermath. Minimizing deaths both during and after nuclear war was the theme of his novel. It was a thinly veiled appeal to the government to get serious about Civil Defense and to individuals to make appropriate preparations for possible conflict.

The lead character of the book is a Korean War vet and lawyer named Randy Bragg. He’s a minor playboy in a small central Florida town who’s just badly lost a local election, drinks a lot, and seems to be in a general decline. His best friend is the town’s physician, Dr. Gunn.

One day he gets a telegram asking him to meet his older brother Mark at McCoy AFB, where he’ll be making a stopover that afternoon.ii The message ends with “Alas, Babylon”, their private code for disaster. Mark is a senior colonel in Air Force intelligence and a sober family man, so Randy treats the matter seriously and goes to meet Mark.

Preparatory Shopping

He is told that the world is on the brink of nuclear war, though it seems unknown to the public. Mark gives him a check for five thousand dollars, the price of a new car then and makes him promise to take care of Mark’s wife and children when they fly in commercially later. He doesn’t want them anywhere near the SAC headquarters at Offutt, where he will be over the following days. Mark reluctantly agrees, and his preparatory shopping that afternoon consists of eleven shopping carts of groceries and a few cases of liquor.

He picks up his relatives early the next morning, and just a few hours later a prolonged series of huge flashes in the sky signal the beginning of the war. The remainder of the book takes the story of the town of Ft. Repose forward through the months until contact is re-established with the rebuilding United States.

The War

The war itself is largely a puzzle to the townspeople, though rumors are common over the months of isolation. The threats to the town are from the failure of medical support, from hunger, from radiation poisoning, and from outside criminals and addicts. The flow of outsiders resupplying in the days just after the event cleans out much of the town’s supplies, but the transients mostly move on. Ft. Repose is not their destination.

The loss of medical support beyond the local clinic’s resources dooms many retirees with chronic conditions as they lose control of their medical situation. Dr. Gunn does his best and continues to come up with improvised/primitive tools and medicines. Eventually, he is ambushed and robbed of his supplies by a small gang of bandits. In turn, the robbers are lured into a trap and exterminated.

The Minorcans and Race Relations

At one point, there’s a mysterious outbreak of illness in an area of town that traces back to jewelry looted from contaminated areas. This is a neighborhood of poor whites and an ethnic group Frank refers several times to as the “Minorcans”. This is a real population group that came to east Florida from the Mediterranean in the mid-eighteenth century to work on indigo plantations. They remain today as a distinct group in the area of St. Augustine, an interesting bit of local history worked into the story.

There’s a fair amount of race relations commentary in the story, since Frank is writing at a time of tension over these questions. He seems to feel that everyone will get along fine, given that they’re ultimately neighbors sharing the need to cope with a common disaster. This theme of Americans together facing a great challenge is his Big Idea in the story.

Shortwave Receiver Powered With Car Batteries

A retired admiral has a shortwave receiver that he powers with car batteries cycled through the doctor’s vehicle to recharge. While the news from outside seems to interest everyone, it never does have any practical utility for them. The doctor’s vehicle is a Model A, borrowed for its fuel economy. In the late fifties, this would have been a real possibility. Today, a dual-sport motorcycle or an early eighties econobox might be a reasonable equivalent.

Water is provided by an artesian well for the Bragg household. We’re not told what others are using as a source. They could have dug shallow wells at a distance from the river and had an acceptable supply.

Food

Happily for the town, the attack happens in early December, so they have the entire winter to eat the local citrus production, along with the fish they get from the river. The question of food is probably the least successful part of the story. As existing supplies run out, some people begin planting corn and vegetables. Chicken and eggs are mentioned and hunting is discussed in an uninformed way. Game, such as deer, turkey, quail, and waterfowl, are mentioned, and eventually the group starts eating armadillos. Randy looks at an alligator swimming in the river and wonders if it could be eaten. Well, sure, along with turtles, snakes, possums, squirrels, raccoons, bullfrogs, every kind of bird, et cetera.iii

Tools and Weapons

Another oddity is the lack of interest in tools and weapons. The late fifties were a time when mechanical ability was taken somewhat for granted. It’s worth remembering that the fifties was also the peak of American small farming. We produce much more food today on less land and with less manpower. How long this kind of modern agriculture can continue is unknown, but small farming was still the norm in Frank’s time. Similarly, weapons were taken for granted, but probably not as noticed as today. A few firearms would have been part of almost every household’s equipment in Ft. Repose, along with the basic tools to keep things working.

Town Discovered

Ultimately, the town is discovered by a helicopter-borne survey team and pronounced the best-preserved place in the Florida contaminated zone, and thus it will be the future base of recovery operations.

A Huge Success

As an encouragement to public and especially private disaster preparation, the novel was a huge success. With the Cuban Missile Crisis following its publication by just two years, the bomb shelter business was quite a going thing during the sixties.

The Real-Life Ft. Repose

Intriguingly, Frank’s home town of Mt. Dora, Florida, the real-life Ft. Repose, had a group of wealthy residents who banded together and had built a large fallout shelter. Twenty-five families had a local contractor build an elaborate facility under an orange grove. Both the contractor and Frank himself declined the group’s invitations to participate, due to the group’s firm rule that once the shelter door closed, no-one else would be admitted. They preferred to take their chances with family outside. The group had an agreed upon covenant for their conduct, and they stayed active, keeping the facility up for about twenty years.iv

Things Learned

Some of the lessons learned from the book:

  1. Preparation and foresight can make the difference between life and death, and better or worse conditions for the living. A brief forewarning of disaster might be all one gets, or none.
  2. Local agriculture can provide a huge food stock for those prepared to make use of it– one of the themes of Cresson Kearney’s “Nuclear War Survival Skills”.v And consider the rations provided to livestock. They may have all kinds of additives and/or be dull at best, but this food source might be a key to survival.
  3. Refugee flows through your area may be a huge problem.
  4. The loss of medical support is likely to end more lives prematurely than just about anything else. Consider those with addictions, those on mood-altering or mood/controlling meds as well.
  5. Motor fuel probably won’t last long. Today’s citizens of Ft. Repose would have the option of solar-charging deep-cycle batteries to run electric bicycles or trolling motors.
  6. The book brings up salt starvation, a real threat in the long term. Bags of pool salt or water softener salt would be a low-cost backup.
  7. The author kept coming back to alcohol, specifically hard liquor, as important. Tobacco didn’t seem important to him. Alcohol isn’t hard to produce, and it has a number of medical uses. Tobacco is pretty easy to grow; why people who use it pay the outrageous taxes on the stuff is a mystery.
  8. Assorted military surplus rifles and .357 revolvers seem to be enough for the town’s defense. Recall that this was sixty years ago, and evaluate your situation accordingly.
  9. Good foraging skills may be a key advantage in the long term. The novel One Second After dwelt at length on food rationing and supplies, but the novel’s setting is in the midst of mountains covered with acorn-bearing oaks.
  10. Luck of the draw with the winds and the attacks themselves saved the town from fallout. If the complex of naval bases at Jacksonville, or the Air Force bases at Canaveral had been attacked, the town might not have been so fortunate. A good basic shelter with a week or two of supplies would have been a good preparation. Tornado/hurricane shelters are available commercially, so are plans for building your own. Cresson Kearney’s manual, mentioned in the endnotes, has even more info on the subject.
  11. One of the most striking scenes involves the town banker. Unable to face a world where money means nothing, he takes his own life. How many people will simply give up?

Ultimately, Frank is correct; it is possible to make it. If not, it’s worth the fight to try.

Notes

Note that both novels are available free online. Also, McCoy AFB was the successor to the Army Air Corps bombing school at Pinecastle Army Air Field #2. It was active from 1949-1976. Deactivated, it was turned over to the city of Orlando and became the current municipal airport there, thus that airport is MCO and not ORL. A local article revisits the old shelter.




32 Comments

  1. I read Alas Babylon for the first time, in high school. At the time, to my teenage mind, it was just an incredibly exciting story. After high school, I joined the Air Force. Part of my training, of course, was NBC or nuclear/biological/chemical warfare training. I have a habit of holding on to books I really enjoy and re-reading them from time to time and eventually I came back to Alas Babylon…but this time, reading through the lens of my training. It sparked an intense curiosity of the world around me and what would happen if the bomb really did drop. I suppose I can credit Pat Frank for opening my eyes and forcing me to take stock of the world in which I live, the hazards that exist in that world, and what it will take to survive and protect my family when and if the SHTF.

  2. I re-read this book about every couple of years. Yes it is set back in the 1950’s, but this book will give you ideas on what to stock up on even now and in some aspect what desperate people will do for food and supplies. If you have never read this book, I do encourage you to do so. Excellent read, and the way the lead people in this book respond to everyday situations that they were not prepared for.

  3. Not mentioned much is the dire situation that will occur when huge metro area water utilities will fail, leaving hundreds of millions without potable (or ANY) water. Starvation will take a back seat to thirst and dehydration. Agree, lack of meds and alcohol withdrawal will kill a great number. Estimates offered by friends working at Livermore and Oak Ridge suggest 40 to 60 million fatalities from direct and indirect weapon effects, 200,000,000+ from starvation/water, exposure, lack of medical care, poor sanitation practices/disease, criminal predation, over the following year. YMMV. I would suggest denial as a leading cause of death. We live in a time of plenty, where pallets of beans, rice, oils, are readily available at stores. It was always fun to gauge the reaction of Costco employees when I bought a pallet of rice. : )
    A coworker/friend of mine grew up in El Salvador and made his way to the US in the 1980s. I asked him what his diet was like in El Salvador. “Breakfast was at 6am. We ate black beans. We did not eat what you call, lunch. Supper was at 6pm, and we ate black beans. Sometimes, for special occasions, we got a bit of chicken….”.
    BTW, Costco has 25 lb bags of table salt for about $3 each. Hint-hint. With spring wheat available for six cents a pound from grain elevators, it seemed silly to grow it. For the cost of a TV set, you could buy 10,000 lbs of the stuff. We bought more than that, and store it in food-grade 55 gal drums. Never seen a weevil in it. Beans of all kinds are available at elevators, too. Stores well in 50 foot underground shelters (corrugated steel pipe). Suggestion: An excavator can dig deeper and faster than your family can with picks and shovels. Kearney’s book is a great reference, but we disagreed on the usefulness of expedient versus permanent shelters. i prefer clean, shiny steel walls to a dirt trench, with supplies stored in an orderly fashion ready for use. I’m a fan of electricity instead of candles. Digging deep trenches in frozen ground while heavy fallout is arriving seems like an indication of very poor planning. Americans are not like the Swiss, with hardened shelters for all and a strategic food reserve of at least a year.
    In 2014, Russia moved 60 million citizens to shelters for a 4 day civil defense exercise. In 2016, they did it again, but with “only” 40 million. A) THEY HAVE shelters. B) The Russian population receives CD training in school, and they have regular drills. Power plant operators know how to shut down equipment to preserve their grid. They continue to use older generation power components for a reason: the older stuff is much more robust when it comes to EMP insult. Western utilities use ever more fragile technology. You can read more about this by searching, “Statement by Dr. Lowell Wood”, chairman of the EMP Commission, testifying to the House Armed Services Committee in 2003.
    I’d think outside the “two week” supply of food concept. Ten years is better. Not practical if you move around a lot unless you build a retreat. Then you can move around at will but still have Plan B.

      1. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are labs operated by the US Government that work on a wide spectrum of projects deemed important to the national interest. These include the development of nuclear weapons and studies relating to missile defense, energy, etc. Other labs include Sandia in New Mexico. All of them work on national security projects. Beginning in the late 1980s, we (a friend and I) got to know a half dozen nuclear physicists who were involved in weapons research from as early as the Manhattan Project. One, Edwin York, ran the photographic section of the Project and later filmed all US atmospheric tests and designed many shelter experiments that were tested along with new nuclear weapons. So we had in our orbit, one of the most experienced experts in weapon effects, shelter design criteria, command and control protocol, target selection criteria, EMP hardening principles, etc. Dr. Lowell Wood always accompanied Dr. Edward Teller to Doctor For Disaster Preparedness conferences, and it was a highlight of my life to visit with these gifted men at lunches and dinners. Others included Sam Cohen, of neutron bomb fame, and Dr. Conrad Chester, of Oak Ridge, who worked on nuclear tests and ran the Emergency Technology Library at Oak Ridge until his death. Cresson Kearney was a regular presenter at these conferences and we shared ideas on self-help civil defense for nearly 15 years. It was Kearney’s book the inspired me to build permanent shelters, and I still recommend his book with enthusiasm. Other experts included Bron Cikotas, Dr. Peter Pry, who were/are heavy hitters in the infrastructure vulnerability /EMP arena. It is through their eyes that I see the enormous problems involved with national recovery after an EMP or nuclear attack, and the disaster that still hangs over the nation.
        I can share more information from these sources if you like. I can be reached at pseyfried@utahsheltersystems.com. Most people are not going to build a shelter…..I get that. But there is much one can do to reduce their vulnerability to the consequences of such an event.
        I thank those in this constellation of experts who selflessly shared many hours of their time to re-shape our entire paradigm concerning self-help civil defense and the current world we live in.
        Some experts presented a hopeful view on an American recovery, others….not so much! The grid, if taken down via an EMP event, will NOT recover in weeks, months, or a year. A careful analysis suggests a more realistic period one to two decades. Remember, the handful of Americans that understand power plant design, high voltage generation and distribution, and a thousand other specific tasks and technologies required to build, repair, and support a power plant, will be subject to the same horrors the rest of us will. The supply chain of fuels, parts, and financials needed to run a plant will be obliterated. Many components are foreign made. How will we pay for new parts? Transport them without a functioning supply chain of food, power, fuel, water, and financial services? As noted by the 9/11 Commission, the largest problem we Americans have is a lack of imagination. We just cannot believe catastrophe can happen to the USA, and this permeates all strata of our civilization….including the people who run our grid and government. We’re on our own!
        Paul

  4. The story talked about here is good, I have the audio and text version.
    I have read and listened to it many times/
    One of the first stories of it’s kind that I found when searching for info about prepping

    What I’m looking for now is the full audio of earth abides.
    Another good but long book is Unintended Consequencesby John Ross

    1. I read Unintended Consequences several years ago, before I had any knowledge of the history of gun control laws in the USA. Very enlightening. Is its portrayal US gun laws accurate? I recommended it to a friend who’s a gun enthusiast.

  5. Good review of one of the “short list” of post-apocalyptic novels. I bought my copy this year after borrowing it repeatedly from the local library.

    Alas Babylon is an easy read and is still one of the best books for helping to open someone’s eyes. It should be seen as required reading for anyone interested in self-reliance.

    Pat Frank also wrote a nuclear survival manual (How to Survive the H Bomb and Why) that I can’t really recommend: his primary firearm recommendation was a Remington Nylon 66 .22LR. The importance of alcohol in the novel may have had something to do with its importance to the author, who died at 56 from acute pacreatitis.

  6. In the event of a nuclear war, the initial killer is blast, followed by firestorms, then fallout.

    But you only get significant fallout from ground bursts, while you get enhanced blast effects from airbursts.

    So the targeteer has a choice to make, do I go for maximum blast damage on the ground, or do I go for the higher kill rates with a ground burst and increased fallout?

    Or do I avoid both and go for massive but slow kill rates by using a Super EMP weapon(s).

  7. I believe this book, followed by “Lucifer’s Hammer” (Pournelle – Niven) were my 1st ‘Survivalist Fiction’ books which stimulated a lot of ‘What If’ thoughts. This was back in very early 1990’s if my memory serves. They were a good read and this review was a pretty good one – thank you for submitting it.

    Point 11 above will probably come to pass – many will commit suicide once reality of situation hits them. Many have never had to struggle to acquire potable water and food once it is no longer available at the store. Ironically, many aliens from countries in the 3rd world will just sigh and get to work.

  8. Good review and intelligent comments. Does anyone else like to note what characters do wrong in a SHTF situation? For instance, in “Alas, Babylon” Randy makes a quick trip to the store where he buys a lot of fresh meat. He didn’t remember that electricity would be gone and only later realizes he should have bought canned. In the movie “Testament” a bomb goes off close enough for the family to be almost blinded by the light from the explosion. Everybody promptly runs out into the street to find missing people, talk, etc. Apparently no one remembered that just staying indoors can greatly reduce one’s radiation dosage. In the TV show “After Armageddon”, which dealt with a pandemic, the family knew what was happening for several days/week before things went totally bad, but they didn’t stock up on groceries. When they finally confined themselves to their home, the water was still working but they failed to fill the bathtub and other containers. Anyway, “Find The Mistakes” is a great parlor game.

  9. The only comment I can add to all of the above is the consumption of armadillos. I heard/read (somewhere) that they carry leprosy, so I would not want to get anywhere close to them, their blood, or their meat. Especially in a SHTF scenario, where the antibacterial medicines would most likely not be available to cure leprosy.

  10. Thanks for posting, and for the replies.

    It is a great book and I encourage all to read it.

    However, Florida has changed since then with a massive population explosion.

    The 1960 census had about 5M, which has grown to 21M.

    Plus, you have about 2M illegals, the winter snowbird population, foreign and domestic, can be as high as 5M, U.S. government international refugee resettlement [less than 1M???] and now the Puerto Rican hurricane refugees [some folks say six figures, others seven].

    So, in a disaster, during the Winter, there could be 30M in the state.

    The book doesn’t really deal with the local fallout situation and its affect on the food supply. There are few shelters for animals, and with the high water table, there are very few shelters for humans as well.

    Authors Joel Skousen and William R. Forstchen, have written about the low probability of survival for people in Florida in an extreme disaster.

    Too many people in a limited area is not a good thing when things go bad…

    What about a mass migration due to severe winters, the Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) recently mentioned?

    I remember this happening in the past, folks just driving down after a big snow storm, with few resources, depending on the mercy of state and private charities, overloading those entities.

    Another thing that is not covered is an invasion from the Caribbean, Central or South America after a societal collapse.

    But, the concepts in the book could be practiced with success in other low density areas.

  11. Speaking of armadillos, I remember reading a small game hunting article by Dick Eades? 30 years ago. In it, he says that he thought armadillos were the best tasting small game in Texas. I have never tried it my self, but I have eaten both bobcat and coyote and they weren’t bad.

  12. Alas, Babylon was required reading in high school in 1972. I think my English teacher was a prepper way back. I just re-read it again this year to check my own endeavors. So this article – it dovetailed in just perfect for me. I often think about the tough times ahead. Living in the Texas coastal bend area, how the pioneers do it with out A/C? Yet to figure that one out. As my Boy Scout motto states “Be Prepared”.

  13. I too read “Alas, Babylon” in high school back in mid-1970’s and I am probably the only person in the school that did, and I still own my first printing copy. It gets reread every few years and had much to do with opening my eyes to the importance of being prepared and the possible consequences of not being so. Starting with the small emergencies like blizzards, storms, etc., preparing for bigger and worse was easy. As I frequently tell people new to the prepping mindset-no effort is wasted. While few people have the means to prepare for an indefinite amount of time, one does not need to start off an emergency situation already desparate and ready to start off making a string of bad choices because one is hungry/thirsty/cold. Having a safety buffer in order to avoid the initial panic and stay off the streets is a much better option than having to fight crowds of the panicked and the predators who always seem to be right there when that type of situation developes. If anyone takes my advice and I am totally wrong then they have food on the shelf for a stint of unemployment or a last minute chance do go camping, or food on hand for unexpected company from out of town. The items are no more of a waste than a $20 bill sitiing on ones dresser just waiting to get spent. Not advertising is also key. A friend of mine and I were discussing the “Y2K” looming concerns back in late 1999, and he had a friend that had a rifle and no plans to stock up on anything because he planned on taking what he needed from those who had no gun. Needless to say my friend terminated that friendship. A more up to date version of the ‘Alas, Babylon’ story was written by a AD Navy officer who writes under the pseudonym J.L. Bourne. He made his name writting a seriously captivating Zombie fiction series (Day By Day Armaggeddon) which is highly educational yet entertaining like the ‘Patriots” series. But a more current series by Bourne, “Tomorrow War” contains up to date scenarios in which the author lays out a possible storyline of the collapse of a just-in-time economy and all the human elements that come out of the woodwork. I just ordered the 2nd book and will be picking that up at Barnes & Noble. I could have had it home delivered but then I would be depriving myself of the excuse to go browse a brick and mortar bookstore.

  14. National Preparedness Month is almost over. I need a rechargeable battery bank set up, small animal operation complete with feed and supply, an electric bicycle, and more firewood.

    The rest, which is a pretty long list, has pretty well been accomplished. What do each of you still need to do?

  15. RE: Things learned #7. While most handy people with the right property could produce some kind of alcohol and tobacco, producing good examples of either is not easy. You can’t grow tobacco everywhere, and getting it dried and cured properly is hard even if you grow prime leaf. And haven’t you ever been subjected to a friends homemade wine? Good or prime versions of either would be valuable barter.

  16. RE: Things learned #7. While most handy people with the right property could produce some kind of alcohol and tobacco, producing good examples of either is not easy. You can’t grow tobacco everywhere, and getting it dried and cured properly is hard even if you grow prime leaf. And haven’t you ever been subjected to a friends homemade wine? Good or prime versions of either would be valuable barter.

  17. Have not read Alas, Babylon but I have read all of Nevil Shute’s books. There is another one called “Ordeal”, published in England as “What Happened to the Corbetts”, that may be of interest to Survival Blog readers. “Ordeal” was published several years prior to WWII but accurately predicted the nature and aftermath of German bombing raids on England. The story follows the Corbett family as they try to flee their bombed out neighborhood, eventually escaping via their sailboat and trying to cross the Solent. I think it’s probably a fairly realistic portrayal of survival from the point of view of characters that had no preparation before the end of life as they knew it, but were able to adapt the resources they did have to survive.

  18. I recall that there was one technical error worth mentioning in Alas, Babylon. Hopefully someone else can confirm. In the scene dealing with the stolen jewelry, the story implied that the jewelry itself was dangerously radioactive due to being exposed to radiation fallout. However, radiation doesn’t work that way. Granted, if there is fallout dust on an object (jewelry in this case), then the object will appear to be radioactive. This point is important not because of jewelry, but as it applies to canned/packaged food. The food will be safe as long as the fallout particles are washed off.

    Overall, a good book, but I consider it only an introductory novel for beginners; call it “Prepper-Lite”. It avoided many of the darker realities that are likely to occur and the in-depth preparations needed to survive long term. That aside, this summary was very good. I never knew that it was written as a rebuttal to “On the Beach.”

  19. Pete, good observation. I vaguely remember being taught that there would be a zone of radioactivity directly under a low air-burst, caused by the burst, but not involving fallout. So it may be possible that jewelry from stores under the burst might be radioactive.

    But any radioactivity caused by fallout can be mitigated by washing the fallout off.

  20. Yes, the jewelry can become radioactive through neutron bombardment. However, it would have to be severely intense to make it lethal. Within the burst radius of a neutron bomb, or possibly a backpack/recoilless nuke (low yield), I wouldn’t want to touch it for a while. If I remember correctly, aluminum gets nasty under neutron bombardment. Aluminum cans might not be a good idea for food items unless properly shielded. I just finished a fallout bunker by adding a thick layer of hematite sand above it. The iron in the hematite acts as a neutron absorber like boron would. As a gold miner, I regularly bring buckets of hematite and magnetite home, so it’s nice to have a use for my tailings. The fallout bunker is mainly a retreat until the fallout dies enough that I can do the 10 mile hike to my main bunker. Living on site would attract too much attention.

    Hematite is Fe2O3, and magnetite is Fe3O4.

  21. A few comments:

    1) Gold will not become hot unless subjected to an intense neutron bombardment as others have already noted;

    2) Re mistakes in A.B. that were made-
    – buying fresh meat ILO canned already noted;
    – failure to stock up on ammo, especially .22 LR;
    -failure to have replacement tubes for the radio on hand;
    -I was puzzled that nobody in the book suggested wood-gas propulsion or alcohol fuel instead of gasoline. That was done before and during WW2 on a large scale, especially in Sweden. Gasifier designs are fairly advanced these days……
    -Failure to have spare glasses available.
    -Not thinking of the doctor as an important resource/target, especially once the pharmacy had been raided.

    3) it is worth noting that the society of Fort Repose is largely homogenous and reasonably well knit. There are few such places in urban or recent sub-urban areas today….

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