Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Second After

I don't get to read as often as I like to these days.  When I do get a chance to dive into a book, I usually do not gravitate towards fiction that often.  However, a couple days ago I did start reading a book by William Forstchen called "One Second After."  I am probably about one third of the way through the book, and thus far, I am enjoying it. Normally, I would wait until I am finished reading a book before blogging about it, but the subject matter in "One Second After," while fiction, is of great importance to our society, regardless of political affiliation.

The story takes place in a quiet town in North Carolina.  People are going about their daily lives when all of a sudden the power goes out.  But this is not an ordinary power failure.  Not only does the electricity go out, but everything that uses modern circuitry is fried, including telephones (land and cell) and automobiles.  The disaster comes as a result of an attack from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a nuclear weapon detonated above the atmosphere over the United States.  The book deals with how our society as a hole is ill equipped to deal with such a tragedy, and follows the struggle of the main characters to survive.

The reason the book is important, is that this is a very real threat facing the United States.  Nearly everything that we rely on is dependent on the delicate micro-circuitry of modern technology.  If there were to be an EMP attack on our nation, the entire electrical grid would be vulnerable.  Everything could be fried.  It would not be a case of the local utility truck coming out to fix a few components and everything be back to normal.  In fact, most vehicles these days are loaded with mini computers and would likely not work after the attack.  It is estimated that it could take not just months, but years to fully repair the grid.  Upgrading the grid to protect it from the vulnerability of attack will be costly, but it is a matter of national security.

I remember a few years ago when Hurricane Isabel came up the Atlantic Coast.  We lost our power for about four days.  That was a major inconvenience for my family.  It was terribly difficult to try to explain to my special needs son the reason why he could not do the things he takes for granted everyday.  Then there was dealing with Mrs. Dickster complaining about how ridiculous it was that the power was taking so long to get back on.  We were at least fortunate enough that we had relatives nearby who did have power to allow us to enjoy the simple pleasures of watching television.  Imagine how your life would be impacted without power for an extended period of time.
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  1. That sounds like a good book. Did you ever see the TV series "Jericho"? It was about the same thing, how people would function after a nuclear attack. It was only on TV 1-1/2 seasons but it was very good. Nothing like apocalyptic stories to make reality seem a little better....

  2. I remember hurricane Isabel. Since McDonalds on 197 still had power and most people didn't, the drive0thru line was ridiculously long. Did the book address the turmoil that would take place once all of the Big Macs are gone?

  3. Shelly, I never did see Jericho. I do think more and more about starting to stockpile some things in case there is any sort of disaster.

    Mike, Isabel was awful. They don't specifically address the Big Macs, but they have one scene where the local government officials talk about somebody wanting to buy all of the uncooked hamburgers in a fast food joint :-)



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