Study Guide

Alas, Babylon Warfare

By Pat Frank

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Ain't no war like a nuclear war 'cause a nuclear war don't stop.


Once the bombs start falling, the human race will never be the same again. Written in the early decades of the Cold War, Alas, Babylon depicts a world-ending nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union, a fear particularly potent for the time but still relevant in the modern era.

This is like no war before: over in an instant yet overwhelming in its destruction. Despite the experts claiming that this day was impossible, a far-off fantasy for paranoids and weirdoes, it somehow came earlier than was expected. Could something so awful happen in the real world too?

Questions About Warfare

  1. Besides the level of destruction, how does the nuclear war differ from previous wars?
  2. In what way can the nuclear war be traced back to older, longer-running conflicts?
  3. Does the novel argue that nuclear war is inevitable? Why or why not?
  4. What is meaningful about America's "victory"? What does this say about nuclear war in general?

Chew on This

Nuclear war is unique in its isolation; most soldiers never see the face of an enemy combatant.

The irony of America's "victory" is that it gains nothing from it, and will have severely lost status in the world no matter the outcome.

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