Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Character List Alas,
Florence Wechek, a manager at Western Union who likes to gossip, believes her neighbor, Randy Bragg, to be a peeping tom. Despite the fact that he often has lady friends over to his house. Randy Bragg, youngest son of Judge Bragg, ran for office as a state senator and lost because of stating that he supports the entire constitution, all of it. Presently he is dating a lady by the name of Lib McGovern. He has a dog named Graf and he works part time as an attorney but mainly lives off the money from his orange harvest. He has a friend of Dan Gunn who is divorced and has to pay alimony to his ex-wife who has a gambling problem. Dan believes that Randy is not an alcoholic but it has just become a habit for him. Randy has neighbors, the Henry’s who are Missouri, Two-Tone, Preacher (he owns the last mule in Fort Repose, which is where this book takes place, named Balaam), and Malachai. Missouri is his maid as well as the McGovern’s and Sam Hazzard’s (who comes along later in the book). Randy’s brother, Mark Bragg, is an airforce colonel stationed at Offutt Fields, which is the headquarters for SAC (Strategic Air Command) near Omaha. He sends a telegram via Western Union to Randy saying that his wife Helen and his children are flying in and then says “Alas, Babylon!” It also says that it is urgent to meet him at the McCoy Base at noon. ‘Alas, Babylon’ has been a family code for an emergency or bad situation because as children they would listen in on to sermons which always ended in the preacher shouting, “Alas, Babylon!” and preaching about oncoming doom. He then tells Missouri to prepare for Helen and the kids, and starts a list for all the things that he needs in an emergency.
At the meeting, Mark tells Randy that right now is a crucial moment in the security of preventing an attack on American soil and that right now would be possible for Russia to launch nuclear weapons at the United States and us not being able to intercept them. Mark also gives Randy a check for $5,000 and says that he needs to cash it and spend the money on supplies as soon as possible because money will soon be worthless. Florence meets Alice at the Pink Flamingo. Florence tells Alice about Randy being a peeping tom but Alice doesn’t believe her because she knows the quality of young men. Alice returns to the library and looks up the phrase Alas Babylon in the Bible and finds that it means the end of the Babylonian Empire. Alice takes up Florence’s offer of staying at her place for a couple days. While at the base Randy notices that many of the airplanes are in flight and not at the base in case a bomb drops on it, so they would be able to still be used and not destroyed.
Helen was feeling bitter about the fact that she was being forced by her husband to leave with her children to stay with Randy at Fort Repose. Mark says that he would be safe down in the hole, but his son Ben knows better. Randy went to collect essentials for the emergency. The Saratoga launched 4 Tigers to go and shoot down the hostile aircraft. Peewee Cobb, the best pilot in the group, due to some mechanical error misfired and bombed a Latakia port. Randy visits the McGoverns. Lavania McGovern does not like Randy because whenever she sees him she is reminded of snakes, which she is terribly afraid of. Bill McGovern believes Randy to be sounding a false alarm because he does not believe that any nation would be stupid enough to enter a nuclear war. Randy went home and heard a news report saying that the Syrians are claiming the US bombed their main harbor in Latakia. Then Bill McGovern called and said that Randy might be right. Randy Bragg missed the first announcement but got the full story later. He is very worried that Moscow isn’t saying anything because when they aren’t talking they are acting. Randy picks up Helen at the airport. Mark suggests that they call the White House and they ask for a weapons release of the nuclear weapons so they won’t have to ask for permission when they need to act. Then we find four ballistic missiles on the radar and launch their own nuclear weapons.
Randy wakes up because he feels the vibrations from the bombs that hit in Miami Airport and the SAC base in Holmstead. Randy witnesses a glow from the bomb and Ben runs to open the windows, so the shock wave won’t shatter them. Peyton gets temporarily blinded because she stared at the mushroom cloud, the civil defense broadcast tells people to evacuate large cities. There’s chaos in the hotel where Dan lives. Randy goes to get Dan so he can help with Peyton’s blindness. Dan gives him eye drops to use on peyton and says that she will have her eyesight back in a week. Alice is not allowed to send any telegraphs aside from official defense emergency messages. They find out that Tampa is gone and so is Jacksonville. At the bank, Edgar keeps on letting people withdraw money but is not accepting checks or bonds. Edgar goes home after closing the bank and kills himself.
They start referring to the day of the bombing simply as “the day.” There is a radio transmission from the new president of the U.S, Ms. Vanbruuker Brown. She was once secretary of health, education and welfare in the president’s cabinet; she declares martial law. Randy goes to the store to buy ammunition for his guns. County civil defense authorities warn everyone not to drink fresh milk, due to radiation poisoning. Randy and Helen to visit the Admiral, Sam Hazard; they find out what’s going on in the world from a short wave radio. They find out that it is pretty likely that Mark is dead. Orlando is blown up and they lose electricity.
Randy and the Henrys tap into the artisan well for water. Ben is happy that they are never going to go to school again. Randy realizes that with out the electricity all the meat and ice cream is going to go to waste; so they throw a steak party. They try to get salt to preserve some of the meat. Dan Gunn, the McGoverns, the Henrys, Alice and Florence are invited. There is another broadcast declaring all the contaminated zones, Florida is one of them. On the ninth day after the day Lavinia McGovern died and they plant her corps in the backyard. Florence’s cat, Sir Percy killed poor Anthony and ate him. The two surviving McGoverners move in with Randy.
Randy had to shave with a six-inch cutting knife. Dan decided to grow a beard. The orange juice is predicted to run out by late June. The Henrys’ are losing animals because of theft. So everyone including Ben to stay out in order to catch the thief. Three cases of radiation poisoning are found. Randy goes to Marine Park to try to trade a bottle of scotch for two pounds of coffee, but no one has coffee. Mr. Hickey gives Randy two things of honey for Marks children. Dan and Wendy go over to Ritas’ place because Pete has radiation poisoning. Rita has several big screen t.v’s and a jag. Rita also wears a lot of very expensive jewelry, which Porky got in Miami right after the day. So all the jewelry (diamonds and everything) is radioactive. So Pete might live, Bill Cullen will die and Porky is already dead. Randy gives Rita the bottle of scotch. Bills’ wife stole the jewels, took the car and left. On Porkys’ garage Dan wrote: Danger keep out radiation poisoning.
They buried Porky on Friday morning in a bronze casket with all the jewels. So that the radiation can’t get out. Randy goes to Marine Park and forces five men to be paul bearers. Two-tone suggests that they make corn whiskey. Randy gets new tires for the Model-A from Florence’s old Chevy. Randy gets authority from a radio cast by the President to act as a leader under martial law. Helen snaps and hallucinates that Randy is actually Mark. Lib explains to Randy what actually happens because she has a degree in psychology. The children start saying “If I grow up…”. Randy and Sam overhear a confusing radio transmission. Dan stumbles in, he has been beaten up and the car and his medicine bag and glasses were stolen by the highwaymen. Randy remembers his iron rations, which is a box full of food that he stored away and forgot about before The Day. Ben shot the giant dog that was stealing the animals from the Henry’s farm.
Dan tells everybody what happens to him; he went to Marine Park and found a note about a typhoid case. On his way back from helping them, he pulled over because he saw a lady laying one the side of the road and then was jumped by two men with baseball bats and guns. They took everything from him. With the authority given to him under martial law, Randy sets up an operation to capture the highwaymen. They took a truck and gas from Rita to use to capture and kill the highwaymen. Lib and Randy plan to get married in Marine Park.
Lib and Randy get married on Easter Sunday in Marine Park. The best man was Dan Gunn, and the maid of honor was Helen Bragg. The patrol has a firefight with the highwaymen and Malachai gets shot and dies. They shoot one guy and hang the other.
The admiral’s radio dies, which leaves everybody without communication to the outside world. They started to harvest corn, yams and sugarcane and they start their first batch of corn whiskey. Dan Gunn learns hypnosis as a substitute for anesthetics. The children have been practiced on frequently so their body builds up a supply of ether. Helen is also studying hypnosis and is becoming quite good. Ben has his appendix removed. Dan uses steak knives while Ben is on the billiard table. Dan is referred to as “our witch doctor”. They are running out of salt and fish. In an old diary, Randy finds directions to a salt pit and Peyton talks to Preacher Henry to find out where she can find fish. She goes on a fishing expedition to the middle of the river and fishes for the fish and captures several large bass but is punished for it because she left without anybody knowing. Schools open in Fort Repose in September and the children attend. In October, a new crop of oranges begins to ripen. Armadillos become scarce, Henry’s flock of chickens increase and wild turkeys are common. Dan delivers the first Post-Day baby. Randy wakes up to the sound of music and follows it to Peyton’s room. She says that she found it in a small room in the attic. Also in the attic, they find an old time sewing machine and two straight edge razors.
Dan starts shaving again because Helen likes it and he wants to marry her. Randy gives his blessing to Dan but Helen won’t marry him because there is still a chance that Mark might still be alive. A low flying plane starts dropping lots of little pieces of paper saying:
“Do Not Be Alarmed … (Page 307)…”
By the next day, they were using these pieces of paper to buy things such as ten leaflets could buy an egg and 50 could buy a chicken. So, paper is eventually gaining back its value. In December, a helicopter came and hovered over Marine Park and tested for radiation. Then it went and landed by the Bragg house. Randy recognizes the Colonel that steps out of the helicopter to be Paul Hart, his friend. He tells him that they are the largest uncontaminated region in Florida and that a lot of places are not as well off in other states as they are in Fort Repose. They learned that there is no way that Mark is alive and that major world powers are now in Asia and that the U.S. is at least a second world country and they probably have a population of what France used to have. Dan decides to stay in Fort Repose instead of leaving and they request medicine and a pair of glasses for him. They find out that they actually won the war, not that it matters anyway.
*Florence Wechek - The manager of Western Union. Apparently Western Union was a service used to transport information, but it wasn't totally safe because any information that was sent through would be seen by Florence Wechek.
* Sir Percy is Florence Wechek's cat, and Cleo and Anthony are her African lovebirds. She also has goldfish.
Randy Bragg is her neighbor, and Florence caught him many time staring at her breasts with his binoculars. Randy has a dog named Graf, and he enjoys drinking and having sex. His car is a Bonneville.
Missouri is the wife of Two-tone Henry, and she is the McGoverns's and Randy's maid she has high blood pressure. Missouri (nicknamed "mizzoo") has a son named Caleb.
Lavinia McGovern is married, and is on insulin due to high blood sugar level. She is married to Bill McGovern,
Elizabeth McGovern is Lavinia and Bill's daughter. She studied psychology. Her nickname is Lib.
Mark is Randy's older brother. He works at SAC (Strategic Air Command) headquarters. Mark has a wife named Helen and two children- Ben Franklin and Peyton.
Kitty Offenhaus was the wife of Luther "Bubba" Offenhaus, he was an undertaker. She was the Daughter of the Confederacy, secretary of the PTA, and a member of several other organizations.
Alice Cooksey is a friend of Florence's. She is a librarian.
Edgar Quisenberry is the president of the bank. It is stated in the book that he is forty five, and that he had come to look like his bank- squat, solid, and forbidding. The name of his bank is First National. Edgar judged people by their economic status, he judged whether or not to loan them money by how rich they were.
Malachai is Two-tone's brother. He is very good at engineering.
Dan Gunn was Randy's best friend, and according to the book, the best friend and the best medic north of Miami.
Ensign James Cobb, nicknamed Peewee, was the smallest and the youngest pilot in Fighter Squadron 44. He was very shy around girls, but apparently was the best pilot they had.
Jerry Kling - Owns a gas station, gives Edgar Quisenberry three gallons for free.
Admiral Hazzard - Retired from the army, he had rivalries with other admirals. He is lonely and has nothing to do, so he spends his days listening to his shortwave radio, to see if he can find out any news regarding the war.
Old Man Hockstatler - Pharmacist whose pharmacy was heavily looted on The Day, and he only managed to salvage a few items.
Mrs. Vanbruuker-Brown is the woman who took over as president and commander in chief of the armed forces, since Washington had been wiped out and there was no government.
Pete Hernandez - Man who was heavily struck with radiation; Rita's brother. He works at the grocery store.
Rita Hernandez - She gets a lot of guys, venturing from one boyfriend to the next.
Balaam is the Henrys' mule, they use him in grinding corn.
Alas Babylon Chapter Summary Version 2.0 (Same Thing But with More Detail.)