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One Second After

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  19,303 ratings  ·  3,069 reviews
New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real...a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages...A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Forge Books (first published 2009)
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Bautista Ulloa Carol Amen.
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The Stand by Stephen KingThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsWorld War Z by Max Brooks1984 by George Orwell
Best Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
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The Stand by Stephen KingThe Road by Cormac McCarthy1984 by George OrwellThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
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Community Reviews

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5 things I hated about "One Second After" -

1. Every important adult male character is either military or ex-military. Seriously. As a bonus, several minor characters that are merely alluded to are also ex-military. (For example, at one point we learn that a pharmacist's husband is an ex-ranger and insists that she keep a gun at the pharmacy. Good times.)

2. As others have pointed out, the author doesn't know the difference between of and have.

3. Much, perhaps most, of the action happens "off scr
I understand the well-done and well-meaning low reviews my fellow bookworms gave this novel. Many points I agree with. To be honest, I almost clicked three stars myself. However, reading "One Second After" was not about entertainment for me. I wanted to learn.

Oddly, the premise of this book - an EMP (electro magnetic pulse) shutting down the world's grid - came to my reality when all the high power solar flares were coming towards earth in early March 2012. Solar flares can cause the same reacti
It's too bad this book is so poorly written, because the premise is pretty cool. The slipshod editing - you may think you're saying "must of" because that's what it sometimes sounds like, but you're actually saying "must've" and any editor with an actual job should know this. The ridiculous characters - most of all, John, the hero who has it all. He's a professor, a doctor, a colonel, owns one of the only running cars left in America that the mayor apologises for asking to borrow, has a little b ...more
Oct 07, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preppers, end-timers, people who have got nothing in their cupboards but a few cans of soup
As much as I like post-apocalyptic novels, zombies, aliens, and supernatural horrors are entertaining but not scary, because we know those types of end-of-the-world scenarios are not going to happen.

One Second After manages to be scary because it sounds very plausible. In fact, William Fortschen supposedly wrote this book in part to warn Americans about a threat he believes has been overlooked and ignored — hence the foreword by Newt Gingrich and the afterword by a military officer, both warning
The premise of the story is that an EMP (electronmagnetic pulse) is created by the detonation of 3 nuclear bombs above the earth's atmosphere, which renders all electronic, digital, computerized elements in the infrastructure of the U.S. inoperable, which leads to a complete and total breakdown of life as we know it. OK. Now we know. Author's mission accomplished.

From a literary point of view, this scenario could have been rendered as a gripping human interest story in microcosm, but instead the
Mixed results in some ways, but overall this is an important book.

Numerous grammatical errors. I blame both author and editor a bit in this area. They are not disasters, but certainly should have been caught: "'He wished he would of...", "the apples were growing too slow.". These are not colloquialisms; they are errors.
Multiple typos can be found in in Kindle edition. For some reason on a few words you will find space characters inside the words, as if there had been some software-generated hyph
Alas, Babylon has been updated for the new millennium with this novel. I strongly recommend reading this from a quite realistic 'what if' scenario. It was a 'read in one sitting' novel, well crafted technical thriller around a significantly under-rated national risk. The author clearly put a great deal of personal passion into the novel, which shows through in the writing quality and intensity of characterization.
This book was possibly the worst book I have ever read and my objections go far beyond the story line. The writing style is tedious and lazy -- how many times were the character's responses to a conversation "what?" or "damn?" But what I find most disturbing are (1) the delusions of grandeur evident in the introduction and postscript, (2) the obvious parallels between the author's real-life ego and the book's protagonist, and (3) the complete lack of introspection the characters have about their ...more
Do you rate a book only on the quality of the writing or on how it makes you think after you finish? This gets 5+ stars for provoking serious thought while the writing itself was just okay. Short recap: one spring day, 3 nuclear weapons are exploded over the US, generating an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP), frying everything digital. One second everyone is living in the digital wonderland of today and the next they are back in The Middle Ages, although that will take some time to become clear to e ...more
Alison Looney
Preachy and abrasive, I imagine this book would only appeal to hard core fans of the End of the World novel. If the following bit of dialogue turns you off, please don't attempt to read this book:

"Charlie, Americans were so damn unprepared...we spent a helluva lot of time wringing out hands about global warming and that wasn't even true. Just last week we were worried about basketball playoffs, now men are taking arms over a slice of bread. It reminds me of the Civil War. Also that movie, Indepe
Mar 14, 2010 Corinne rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Corinne by:
Forstchen started with a fantastic premise, but unfortunately the book failed to live up to the idea. The author apparently did not learn the lesson of Writing 101 that you need to show, not tell. Perhaps it was the historian coming out, but Forstchen took amazing events - battles, plagues, life and death - and rather dryly recounted them. He missed out on so many opportunities to really wow the audience with action and suspense. Also, the characters were almost insufferable. The good were too g ...more
Although fiction, this book is a very believable & terrifying account of how life continues and changes after an Electric Magnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon is set off over the USA. According to the forward, this weapon actually does exist and destroys all things run by electricity which makes the story all the more frightening. Think no communication/cell phones/computers, no vehicles produced after the late '70s, no refrigeration/air conditioning, no ability to produce basically everything that w ...more
Interesting speculation on an instant low-tech future. Very sympathetic characters. Assumes the coalescence of rather large political groups in the immediate wake of disaster in contrast to some kind of organic growth of smaller primary loyalty groups. Assumes the continuity of nation-states... Treatment of the die-off is enlightening; it suggests we don't have a healthcare problem, just a deathcare problem: lots of nonviable people if we are plunged back into the past technology-wise.
I decided that I'm going to send One Second After back to the library after having read only about 1/3 of it. It's not a supremely awful book, it just feels like I've read it before. It doesn't seem to have any new ideas in it and it definitely doesn't present the post-nuclear attack scenario in any way that it hasn't been done before. In the case of this book, the nuclear attack is one that is focused high enough to do no damage to people or land. There won't be any nuclear fallout. The attack ...more
A bit tedious. The point of the book: To provide a fictitious story that would inform the reader about the dangers of an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack on the US. An EMP would overload all electronic circuitry in cars, phones, etc....

It should have been a hint the story would be in great parts exposition when we learn the main character is a college professor. Pages upon pages feature the professor talking about the post-EMP problem in town meetings, at the office, at home, at the Quicky Ma
I updated my status on this book yesterday to say I was pretty sure it was never going to end, but I can say it finally did. Finally. Really, this book could have been so much more interesting than it was. EMPs are by their nature very interesting. But… the author chose the wrong protagonist (an ex-military, very articulate and physically capable university professor? C’mon… how about someone people can identify with?), chose to skip over the most interesting parts, and made even the interesting ...more
Robin Cicchetti
This book pressed all my crazy buttons. As a liberal Democrat I am seriously ready to buy a gun, start stock piling food, medication, and have actually been searching survivalist web sites. I am terrified.
Set in a bucolic little mountain town in North Carolina, this is the story of the United States that starts the second after an EMP attack. This is a real scenario, based on real science. Small nuclear bombs launched just above the atmosphere send an electromagnetic pulse that utterly and irrev
I'll start by saying I don't think I am the target audience for this. The target audience are military, patriots, members of the gov't, and WASP males. This is a piece of propoganda aimed at lobbying people to take precautions against an EMP attack.

---spoilers below:----

This is the story of a man living in a small town in NC with his family when an electromagnetic pulse attack on the country transforms the USA into a postapocalyptic country.

That said, here are my issues with the book:

-While ther
Winston Smith
I didn't enjoy this book at all. It was easy enough to read, but huge sections of the book seemed to be dedicated to the protagonist explaining things to the other, poorly defined characters. It was almost like reading a briefing note, or an informative pamphlet. It was entirely “tell” instead of “show.”

Second: the protagonist was a HUGE hypocrite. This would be fine, but at no point in the novel does he, or anyone else, ever realize that he has this character flaw. On multiple occasions through
Listened to as an audiobook
An end of times as we know it book. Forstchen analyzes America's specific vulnerability to an EMP attack. I don't know enough of the technical details to judge his scenario, but they sound pretty close to what I would have thought. I instinctively react to his doomsday scenario as a bit far fetched, not the EMP, but the results. He has people panicing and rioting within days of the event, and starving within two months. I tend to think he is underrating most people, bu
I don't mind saying, this book scared the crumbs out of me. There is nothing about the scenarios presented in this story that is far-fetched. It's all highly plausible. Does it make me want to move to a compound in Montana and become a ” survivalist”? No, but it sure as heck is making me think twice about the complacent way I flip on the lights in my house, turn on the water to brush my teeth, have a mini temper tantrum when it takes longer than 3 seconds for my computer to load a web page. Is i ...more
William Forstchen's One Second After is a simple novel in the tradition of the disaster story. While the first half of the novel reads like a low-budget disaster movie, the powerful second act redeems the weaknesses of the first.

The classic plot is nothing new: the world has gone to hell. In this case, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon has been used against the United States, rendering all electronic equipment useless. Then our hero, former Colonel John Matherson, who is undoubtedly modeled
Being a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, I decided to take a stab at Mr. Forstchen's novel. Numerous people had told me to take a look at it, claiming I'd probably enjoy it. I'm not sure that I can be friends with those people any longer. (Had someone told me that Newt Gingrich wrote the introduction, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have even bothered with this novel. Thankfully—or perhaps not so thankfully—this wasn't mentioned, and I went into the book blind to any fact about it other than tha ...more
Tim Miller
Forstchen gets a bit preachy in this one. He has clear, idealized, white, and antiquated views of "American" values. Those biases keep on peeking out in the dialog and thought sequences of his main character. Despite that minor annoyance, this post-apocalyptic thriller engrossingly depicts the end of America as we know it at the hands of terrorists who detonate nuclear warheads high in the atmosphere, which render all digital electronics and electrical systems useless. The drama and action seque ...more
Jessica Bronder
On a typical day, in Black Mountain, NC, John is getting ready to celebrate his youngest daughters 12th birthday. Just before the party, he is talking to his friend in Washington when suddenly they lose power. But it’s not just power. Cars, cell phones, anything with a computer chip in it is dead. John has a feeling that he knows what’s going on. Years prior he did a project on the affect of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) being set off. An EMP would basically fry anything electronic.

Chaos breaks
Perhaps this novel could be made into a drinking game. Whenever any character talks about “being Americans” or breaks into patriotic song, take a drink. That would make reading this book much more manageable. The main character is a pompous, self-appointed hero who cannot refrain himself from describing the tightness of various women's blouses. Sadly, this is in line with how most women are viewed in this book; there are some strong women but most are in caregiver roles while the men make the de ...more
Whew. I have just been played like a fiddle. My heartstrings are all torn up! This was so sad. So SCARY, in the realistic sense. Laaawwwd, at the atrocities that happen when our life neccessities are taken away.

Imagine an America with no power, no cars (other than super old ones with no computers), no phones, no grocery stores..... Drinking water not easily available, food running out, medicines sparse.... People get real. Its what happens, when people stop being polite and get real!!! <<&
“One Second After” is an apocalyptic novel introduced by Newt Gingrich and hamstrung by an entourage of needless intensifiers.

When the United States is attacked with electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons detonated in the upper atmosphere, most of the country reverts suddenly to pre-electronic form, and chaos ensues. With the power grid gone nationwide, John Matherson, the retired army colonel-turned-history teacher at the center of William Forstchen’s story, must help both his family and his town
Amber Bryant
One Second After by William Forstchen was recommended to me by my assistant principal at school. I was unsure at first if I even wanted to read it but decided to go ahead. I couldn't put it down once I started it. It describes what happens in the United States when nuclear bombs are detonated above us in our atmostphere. It would completely fry our entire electrical grid and everything computerized. It is very disturbing to think about this as a very real threat for America. During the power out ...more
Excellent book. It is frightening to think how easy a rogue group could disable an entire nation and starve 90% of its inhabitants without destroying any buildings or immediately killing any people, at least those on the ground. The old Chinese proverb says "Attack your enemy at his weakest point." That is exactly what happens in this book.

In the first chapter the author depicts a small town setting in the rural western part of North Carolina. It's like living in heaven, complete with kids and
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William R. Forstchen (born 1950) is an American author who began publishing in 1983 with the novel Ice Prophet. He is a Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at Montreat College, in Montreat, North Carolina. He received his doctorate from Purdue University with specializations in Military History, the American Civil War and the History of Technology.

Forstchen is the author of more than forty boo
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“America is like an exotic hothouse plant. It can only live now in the artificial environment of vaccinations, sterilization, and antibiotics we started creating a hundred or more years ago.” 8 likes
“John, you look like crap warmed over."
He nodded, walking into the conference room for what had now become their daily meeting.
Thanks, Tom. I needed that.”
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