Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Second After (After, #1)” as Want to Read:
One Second After (After, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

One Second After (John Matherson #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  31,290 Ratings  ·  4,454 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Second After, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Pixellle In addition to Revolution, there was a very good post-apocalyptic 2006 TV series called "Jericho." It's about the people of a small town in Kansas, in…moreIn addition to Revolution, there was a very good post-apocalyptic 2006 TV series called "Jericho." It's about the people of a small town in Kansas, in the aftermath of a limited nuclear attack on 23 major cities in the contiguous United States. They are totally cut off, and struggle to produce electricity, heat, food, shelter and medical care, and to deal with refugees. I thought it was a great mix of interesting characters and ideas, very well written. I recommend it.(less)
Bobby It was a three page short story entitled "The Last Testament" written by Carol Amen. Great movie starring Jane Alexander!

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 27, 2010 Timmy rated it did not like it
Shelves: apocalyptic
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
Feb 13, 2010 Melissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: apocalyptastic
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
Mar 12, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
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
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Oct 13, 2016 Catriona (LittleBookOwl) rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, audiobook
I really enjoyed this! The premise seems so plausible and that was what made this so scary. My poor heartstrings too, I felt so strongly for the characters!

I did feel a little disappointed when some of the action was skipped over and happened behind the scenes. Felt a little cheated a couple of times when this happened, but overall I was really captivated.

I think that with listening to the audiobook I didn't pick up on as many grammatical errors than others did when reading the physical book. Ob
Joe H
Nov 05, 2012 Joe H rated it did not like it
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
Nov 28, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  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
Oct 30, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it
A movie based upon the novel One Second After by William Forstchen would look a lot like Red Dawn, or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior.

An Electromagnetic Pulse is set off over the United States and all electronic chips of any and every kind are rendered inoperative. The author then demonstrates in blunt and terrible fashion what this means: within a few days people are starving, the seriously ill are dying and law and order has collapsed, and it just gets worse from there
Jun 02, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 31, 2011 Alison Looney rated it it was ok
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
Apr 20, 2009 Sharon rated it it was ok
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
Mar 13, 2010 Corinne rated it did not like it
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
Apr 25, 2014 Emily rated it did not like it
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
Mar 31, 2012 Athens rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2009 Nick rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 04, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
This book is intense, heart-wrenching, and not for the easy-queasy!

It is basically two books:

1. An essay on everything our society would deal with in a post-apocalyptic scenario
2. How a small community in North Carolina deals with that post-apocalyptic scenario.

The detail from the "essay" is well researched and thoroughly broken down into a plethora of possibilities. Every element is terrifying and it is amazing how we are only the loss of a few resources we count on every day before we could be
Mar 09, 2011 Cecilia rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 31, 2010 Spectre rated it did not like it
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
This ain't my first time at the apocalypse rodeo. It's not even my first EMP-apocalypse book, so all of this "OMG! No electronics!" is somewhat old hat, which means that this book has to stand on its own merits, which are negligible. The dude claims he was inspired by one of my PA favorites, Alas Babylon (please do note the diabetic daughter), but sadly One Second After has none of its charm and verve.

My very first issue, is that in a PA book, you want that moment when the crap has hit the fan,
Jun 10, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot wrong with this bit of fiction. It starts out with an introduction by Newt Gingrich, is too realistic, & the dog dies while the hero lives. Please! Kill off the hero or wipe out a town, but don't kill a devoted dog. Still, with all those evils, I had to give this book 5 stars & I have to recommend it to everyone.

I read this without expecting much. No, I was prepared to disdain it completely when I saw people comparing it to On the Beach, Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned t
Winston Smith
Nov 24, 2012 Winston Smith rated it did not like it
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
Robin Cicchetti
Feb 13, 2011 Robin Cicchetti rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it
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
Blaine DeSantis
Feb 16, 2017 Blaine DeSantis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books get a 5***** rating due to their shear literary greatness, others because they are genre leaders, but the book One Second After gets my 5***** rating due to the sheer realism of the book, and the extremely possible doomsday scenario it sets forth.
America, without even knowing it, was under attack when a nuclear missile explodes in the atmosphere and "one second after" all electrical power is lost in the country. It is a doomsday scenario that is, unfortunately, all too possible and c
John Wiltshire
Dec 01, 2015 John Wiltshire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At last, a perfect post-apocalyptic book for me. I'm about 20% into this one and so far I haven't once had to rant about the actions of the main protagonist.
One day, with no warning whatsoever, all electronic devices fail. Cars, radios, electricity, anything and everything. A ex-army colonel, living with his two daughters in a small American town where he now teaches military history, suspects almost immediately that the USA has been hit by an EMP. Straight away therefore, John hits survival mo
Mar 26, 2012 Josh rated it liked it
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
So, I Read This Book Today
"Unfortunately, the cyber threat to 'the grid' is only one means of eviscerating the soft underbelly of American society. Another which has been getting increasing attention could be delivered via the kind of nuclear-armed ballistic missile that Iran and North Korea have been developing: a strategic electro-magnetic pulse attack." -Frank Gaffney

It starts out as a normal day.

Then, a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes over the United States. And suddenly, there will never agai
Apr 28, 2012 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
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
Jun 04, 2009 Megan rated it it was ok
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
A wake up call, everyone should read 3 18 Feb 27, 2017 03:32PM  
Dystopian Society: November Modern Book of the Month 2 10 Dec 26, 2016 12:16PM  
European American...: One Year After 1 4 May 30, 2015 06:28AM  
Apocalypse Whenever: New member starting a PA collection, recommendations please! 27 92 Oct 03, 2014 07:12PM  
Valerie's Mega Aw...: One Second After - August 2014 12 16 Sep 01, 2014 07:25AM  
  • Lights Out
  • Patriots (The Coming Collapse)
  • 77 Days in September
  • Summer of the Apocalypse
  • Gabriel's Watch (The Scrapman Trilogy, #1)
  • Doomsday Diaries
  • Beyond Armageddon
  • The World Ends in Hickory Hollow
  • The Preparation (299 Days, #1)
  • The Jakarta Pandemic (The Perseid Collapse, #0.5)
  • Down to a Sunless Sea
  • Surviving Home (Going Home, #2)
  • The Road to Hell is Paved With Zombies (Zombie Fighter Jango, #1)
  • Half Past Midnight
  • The Last Ship
  • Deep Winter
  • Selection Event
  • Alas, Babylon
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
More about William R. Forstchen...

Other Books in the Series

John Matherson (3 books)
  • One Year After (After, #2)
  • The Final Day (After, #3)

Share This Book

“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.” 11 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.”
More quotes…