Alas, Babylon, which was written by Pat Frank and published in 1959, takes place in Fort Repose, Florida. It is during the cold war with lots of tension between Russia and the United States. Randolph Rowzee Bragg, the main character lives in Fort Repose. This is where most of the story takes place. Randolph, also known as Randy, has an older brother named Mark. Mark is a high-ranking officer in Omaha where there is a giant underground military base. I believe that the U.S. has several underground military bases, but doesn?t let the public know about them, and I don?t believe many people know about this one either. Mark sent Randy a telegram that read, ?Urgent you meet me at Base Ops McCoy noon today. Helen and children flying to Orlando tonight. Alas, Babylon?(14). Alas, Babylon is the phrase that Randy and Mark used when there was something terribly wrong and to take what ever they said very serious so Randy met his brother at the base. When he got there he found out that Mark suspected that the Russians would attack. During the ?Cold War? the U.S. had the knowledge and experience to know when their enemies were going to make a move. They had plenty of spies and spy equipment to give them enough information to protect itself incase of emergencies. Mark also gave Randy $5,000 to stock up on food and supplies. Randy then went to the bank to cash the check.
Randy hates going to the grocery and tries to spend as little time there as possible. This time though he loaded up three shopping carts. His total was $314.80 and he was in there for a total of one hour and six minutes (45). After the grocery he stopped at Bill Cullen?s bar and bought one and a half cases of his brand of bourbon and six fifths of scotch for Helen, who is Mark?s wife. Stocking up on food is probably the best thing that Randy could have done with the money. He should have bought more can foods instead of steaks and other foods that need to be kept cold because if the electricity goes bad so does the food. And if something really bad was to happen then Randy would be a little better off then the rest of the people who didn?t stock up on food and supplies. Although Randy did not know this at the time the alcohol would come in handy with cleaning open wounds since there wouldn?t be any more pharmacy stores, or any stores for that matter when the nuclear bombs hit. When Randy got home Malachai, a young black boy who does chores for Randy, helped him unload his supplies. While they were unloading the supplies Randy informed Malachai of what his brother had told him. I like the fact that friends? pull together knowing that there are going to be rough times ahead. Randy then paid Malachai his twenty dollars for his weekly chores and gave him an extra $200 for supplies.
As Malachai was leaving, Elizabeth McGovern, also know as Lib, is Randy?s girlfriend, pulled up. Randy told her what Mark had said to him. Lib then went home and told her parents, who thought she was absolutely crazy. It is hard for some people to believe that anyone would want to go to war with the infamous United States, and Lib?s parents were some of those people. I would find it hard to believe if someone thought that they could go to war with us and win, so why would they even try. Then Dan Gunn stopped by, the local doctor. Randy also filled him in on the information he received from his brother and Dan then filled out some prescriptions for Randy and Lib in case of an emergency. This was clever thinking on Randy?s part because it is always good to keep extra medicine around incase of an emergency. It would be ridiculous for someone to die of an infection when it could have been prevented.
That night the Americans made a huge mistake. A pilot named Peewee Cobb was flying a fighter plane with instructions to shoot down any snooper planes in sight. When he spotted one he fired and at the last possible second the snooper plane shut off its engine and the missile then went after a train and blew it up (71). I believe that the Russians couldn?t wait for a reason to go to war with the Americans. That is why they shut off radio contact and wouldn?t even talk about the accident to the Americans. Many Russians died in the train explosion. From that point on The Russians went under radio silence. This was not a good sign. The Russians now had a reason to attack the United States. This was the turning point of the stalemate between the Russians and the United States. The United States became very defensive afterwards and Omaha military base turned the key that will shoot nuclear warheads towards Russia. Now the President had to turn his key and the rockets would launch. I believe this was a smart play on Marks part because it was his idea to turn the key and that saved them some time incase the Russians attacked the U.S.
That same night Randy picked up Mark?s family at the airport. It was a good thing that Mark got his family out of Omaha because the next morning explosions awakened everyone in Randy?s house. The Russians attacked three major cities that Randy could see. Unfortunately this was the first time the United States had experienced anything like this and was very unprepared. Russia blew up major cities all over the country. The President had barely enough time to retaliate the attack before Washington D.C. was blown to bits. Luckily the wind was blowing the radioactive material away from Fort Repose. The explosions blinded Mark?s little girl, Peyton. Randy had to rush to the Riverside Inn, where Dan Gunn stays. Dan was so busy at the Inn he wouldn?t be able to see Peyton until nighttime. It seemed like everyone that was pregnant went into labor at the same time. In times of severe stress it causes women to go into labor earlier than expected. Doctor Gunn finally got to see Peyton late that night and told her to rest her eyes and she should be able to see again in about a week. A few days later Lib?s mother died because when the electricity went off so did the refrigeration for her penicillin (165). This along with many others was just an after casualty of war.
Randy then went to Lib?s house to ask her and her father if they wanted to stay with them. She said yes without a question but her father took some convincing. I could understand that because her father is a grown man and doesn?t want to leave his house after all the hard work he put in to get that house. Helen didn?t like the idea because she was jealous, at least that?s what Dan told Randy. The next person to move in was Dan Gunn. Randy thought this would be safer because there is power in numbers and Randy had plenty of food and supplies and means of making more food to feed the household. They had a good setup at Randy?s; there was a lake a few hundred yards behind his house and Malachai setup an irrigation system from the lake to water the crops to grow food. If they were to survive without outside help, this was the best place to do so. He was staying at the Riverside Inn, but the people there kept telling themselves everything would be okay by tomorrow. They kept using the toilets and the whole place smelled. A couple of days after Dan moved out the place burned down (164). These people were so convinced that their country could never be hurt in such a way that they wouldn?t believe the truth and died because of it. War does terrible things to innocent people and those are just some of the causalities of war.
Since Dan was the only doctor he had to make house calls all over Fort. Repose. He found out about people being sick at the Marina. People posted information, like if someone in their family were sick, on a board in the center of Marines Park. This was one of the only ways of communication besides work of mouth. This shows that average citizens can make it on their own by helping each other in times of need. One night Dan made a call down the street from Randy?s house, and on his way home there was a lady on the side of the road and she pretended she was hurt. Dan stopped the car to help and he was ambushed. They took the car, alcohol, and his doctor?s bag. They also beat him up real bad. Dan had to crawl back to Randy?s. After that Randy said he was going to kill the criminals. War sometimes turns people into monsters and makes society very dangerous. Since there were no police or even a government for that matter there was nobody to stop these types of activities. Randy took charge of the little town and didn?t want everyone to start terrorizing the citizens who are just trying to get by.
Randy made up a plan and went to his ex-girlfriend?s house to use her grocery truck. He used this to lure the bandits to come after him. His girlfriend told everyone that someone stole her truck and it had a lot of stuff in it. She even shot a gun off that night so people would believe her even more (261). When Randy got home Lib was waiting for him. They got to talking and Randy said, ?I wish we were married.? Lib said, ?I accept? instantly. So Randy made a new law about marriage, and Lib and Randy were going to get married before he left to find the criminals, which was to be the next day. Randy did this because there was no government and someone had setup some form of normality and try to make things like they used to be in the best possible way. Randy had three other people with him. They were Malachai, Sam Hazzard, his neighbor, and Bill McGovern, Lib?s father. They mapped a route that they would travel during the day. At the last second Malachai and Randy traded places in the truck. The criminals wouldn?t worry about a black driver so if they saw him they would go after them for sure. They wouldn?t worry about a black driver because back in those days black people were not looked as highly upon as white people, therefore the criminals would have no problem killing an innocent black man. When they finally met up with the criminals Malachi ended up getting killed and Randy took one hostage. The next day Randy took the hostage into the center of the Marina and hung him. Randy made an example out of the criminal to show everyone that he would not tolerate such behavior and the people loved him for it. Randy also put up signs to recruit a police force from anyone that was in the armed services (283). This was the beginning of a new way of life for the people of Fort Repose. When times are rough leaders step up and accept the challenge to try to make everything better, even if it seems impossible. Randy was that leader and created a safer environment and let people sleep easier at night.
About a week later a helicopter flew by. A few days after that another landed on Randy?s front lawn. Paul Hart came out along with four other American soldiers, two of them with Geiger counters (310). Randy met Paul Hart a year ago at McCoy Operations. Helen asked Paul if Mark had made it, and he said there were only a few survivors from Omaha and Mark wasn?t one of them. Omaha was one of the biggest military bases and was heavily bombed. Before they left Randy asked Paul who won the war. Paul said we did, not like it really matters though. After a war like that there really isn?t a winner. Both sides lost most of their population and a lot of their patriotism. It will take many years to reunite the United States and many more to make the whole country livable, land wise.