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Farnham's Freehold

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,114 Ratings  ·  296 Reviews
Hugh Farnham was a practical, self-made man, and when he saw the clouds of nuclear war gathering, he built a bomb shelter under his house, hoping for peace and preparing for war. What he hadn't expected was that when the apocalypse came, a thermonuclear blast would tear apart the fabric of time and hurl his shelter across two thousand years into a future both strange and a ...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Baen Books (first published January 1st 1964)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
302nd out of 5,446 books — 18,162 voters
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. HeinleinStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinTime Enough for Love by Robert A. HeinleinHave Space Suit—Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
Your Favorite Heinlein Novel
20th out of 42 books — 237 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
Bridge-playing libertarian type gets hit by nuclear weapon and ends up in future world where whites are enslaved by blacks.

Well, you can see why I gave up playing bridge.
Amber
Apr 27, 2007 Amber rated it really liked it
My Heinlein phase is continuing.

If you are easily offended by your views (or societies givens) being challenged or called into question Heinlein is not an author for you.

Heinlein is probably the best author that I have found in the Science Fiction category. His futuristic worlds provide an excellent commentary of our current social life as well as remarkable insight into the human psyche. His characters are multi-dimensional and some of his best characters are very strong women. He writes women
...more
Dominick
May 02, 2013 Dominick rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm giving this two stars because I can't give 1.5 and because even worse books like Glory Road deserve the one--or an explicit zero, which unfortunately is not an option. This, however, is pretty bad. Hugh Farnham, right-thinking patriot, is ready for the bombs when they fall, what with his amazingly well-equipped bomb shelter, so even though for no logical reason whatsoever the bombs throw his shelter (along with his family and a couple more hangers-on) forward in time, he's ready to survive, ...more
Jim
Dec 21, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
This isn't my favorite book by Heinlein, but it certainly isn't my least favorite (that honor is held by "The Number of the Beast" or "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls"). I give it 4 stars - should be 3.5 - because it has a lot of good ideas running through it, although it isn't as well written as many of his novels. Still, I really liked it as a teen back in the 70's. Like "Stranger in a Strange Land", it hasn't aged as well, though.

Written at the height of the cold war, back before the civil ri
...more
Lyn
Jan 31, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it
I read an overly simplified summary of this book that went something like this: libertarian veteran saves family in fallout shelter, gets moved forward in time 2,000 years, goes into survivalist mode and then runs into an advanced civilization where black people are the chosen race and who rule over a racially determined slave system.

Succinct.

This could have been shortened, reducing the first half with all the survivalist development, moving faster to the more interesting second half when the
...more
notgettingenough
There aren’t many better recommendations for a book than ‘Sick as a dog but couldn’t put it down’. This is one of those.

It works for survivalists, bridge players, parallel worldists, philosophers, post-catastrophists, cannibals looking for new recipes and anybody with Woody Allen’s tastes.

It’s gotta be a fav of his. Those naked young things in the bunker with the middle-aged unattractive but pizazzy leader, one his daughter. Although his daughter confesses of the three breeding partners availabl
...more
David
Feb 25, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Old dudes with hot younger girlfriends (i.e. every dude in a Heinlein novel)
This book has some notoriety among Heinlein's legions of critics for being a "reverse racism" story in which a group of white people (and their one black house-servant) are blasted thousands of years forward in time by a nuclear war, and find themselves in a future ruled by black overlords, served by an underclass of subservient whites.

Farnham's Freehold is actually not that bad, nor is the narrative message as ham-fisted as I expected; Heinlein was a progressive for his time, and notwithstandin
...more
Michael
Sep 25, 2008 Michael rated it it was ok
One of the things about being a book geek is that, sometimes, you enjoy getting together with other book geeks and, well, geeking out about books. Part of this is that you it makes you feel better to know others enjoy reading a particular type of novel or genre as much as you do and that while most of your friends and family find your zealousness for said books frightening, there are others out there who understand. And another big part is that you get recommendations for new books you might not ...more
Richard Knight
Apr 29, 2012 Richard Knight rated it it was ok
Wow. I've read a lot of books in my day--probably over a 1000--but I've never read a book that dovertailed into being utter garbage like Farnham's Freehold did. It starts off so well until the big twist (Which I'm not really spoiling since it's the only real attraction of this book at this point--blacks are in control of whites). Given that this book was published in the 60s, this would have been huge and inflammatory. Today, it's all hampered by crummy sci-fi elements that are utterly laughable ...more
Harv Griffin
Jun 08, 2013 Harv Griffin rated it it was amazing
Farnham's Freehold is #6 on my list of All Time Favorite Science Fiction Novels. Number six. I probably reread this novel about every three years. Heinlein was clearly having a lot of fun while he wrote it, and that shows. Copyright 1964. Structurally, it's cleaner than Stranger in a Strange Land; although it lacks the brilliance of the first half of Stranger.

My favorite part is the love story between the old guy and his son's date. I probably like that too much.

Nuclear War. Time Travel. Fascina
...more
Rick
Sep 17, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: not kids
After reading this book it is rather obvious that it was written with one thing in mind. And that is to stir controversy. This book is not for the feint of heart but I rate it so highly because of Heinlein's talent for weaving an intricate story from just about anything. I will say that the plot certainly does get weak towards the end but I still give this my highest rating just from the joy of reading it and realizing just how controversial this book had to have been at the time of its original ...more
Nathaniel
Mar 12, 2015 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
I read Farnham's Freehold because Wikipedia described it as a racist anti-racist book, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Here are the relevant quotes from Wikipedia so we start out on the same page:

The SF Site described Freehold as "a difficult book", and stated that "(a)t best, (it) is an uncomfortable book with some good points mixed in with the bad, like an elderly relative (who) can give good advice and in the next breath go off on some racist or sexist rant. At worst, Farnha
...more
Jeff Yoak
Even having read this book before several times, it still blew my socks off. Heinlein's deep look at racism, his typically brilliant characters and one of the cases where he didn't lose interest in his plot all dovetail in a great book.

2016: Probably this is one of the books that stimulated the best conversations with kids when we read it. They really latched on to the ideas of racism and slavery as seen in the book. It was so brilliant of Heinlein not only to have blacks lording over whites in
...more
Marcus
Jan 14, 2008 Marcus rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
G.R. Reader
May 12, 2014 G.R. Reader rated it did not like it
There was an enticing rumor going round at one point that a Blue Club edition of this book existed, with the bridge sequences extended and some rather sexy new ones added. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a hoax. Pity.
Aries
Jul 23, 2014 Aries rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza
Nell'immensa produzione Heinleiniana non tutti i romanzi possono essere pietre miliari o veri e propri capolavori.
Ci sono anche onesti romanzi che si leggono velocemente, anche con piacere, ma che lasciano in bocca il sapore di qualcosa di non cotto a puntino, come una pizza impastata male o mal lievitata.
"La fortezza di Farnham", del 1965, rientra (prevedibilmente) in questa categoria.
Ambientato in piena guerra fredda, ci racconta di una famiglia che si trova ad affrontare nel proprio bunker pe
...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
May 25, 2013 Babak Fakhamzadeh rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the best sci fi novels ever written and not his only great work.
Farnham's Freehold is from 1964. Set some ten years after it was written, starting off over an American family dinner, world war III breaks out, though the family can just barely make it to the bomb shelter which the head of the family, Hugh, had meticulously prepared. Days later, after three huge bombs have hit a military installation close to the shelter, the family emerges, to find
...more
Steve Walker
Jan 17, 2011 Steve Walker rated it liked it
As an adventure this is not one of Heinlein's better stories, although enjoyable enough. As a treatise on the cold war, racism, slavery, the feminist movement, and morality it truly earns its billing as "the most controversial book in science fiction." Amazingly this story was published in 1961 at the height of tension between USSR and USA; the whole nation was caught up in visions of an apocalyptic nightmare. There were bomb shelters, many as elaborate as the one that Hugh Farnham built in this ...more
Jonathan
Mar 31, 2010 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one's out of print. Post apocalyptic/speculative story in which whites are slaves due to nuclear fallout in Northern Hemisphere. It's one of those novels that Heinlein was criticized for... Is it racist? This was during the height of the Civil Rights movement. Hard to say. Read it yourself. You'll have to look it up on Amazon since it's been "unofficially" censored.
Nuno Ribeiro
May 18, 2015 Nuno Ribeiro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything I can say is a spoiler. When I picked up the book, I knew nothing about it. And everything about it was surprising. So, I'll hide my review from those that do not want the surprise to be spoiled. Those who have read it, go ahed. (view spoiler) ...more
Neil
I had finally gotten around to reading this novel a couple of years or so ago and was not that impressed with it. I read it again yesterday on a whim, and my thoughts on the novel really had not improved that much. I would give it 1.5 stars [maybe] but as I cannot give 1/2 star ratings I am going to drop it down to a 1-star [it does not rate 2]. The book starts off with [some] promise of potential 'greatness' but falls flat on its face about 1/3rd of the way through [in my opinion].

The characte
...more
Fred
Written at the height of the Cold War (1964) this book was hard to classify. I shelved it as Alternate History, Post Apocalyptic Fiction, and Science Fiction. The premise is that Hubert Farnham, an American survives a nuclear war between the Soviets and the Americans with his family by hiding out in the bunker that he had built under his house. After three distinct blasts they eventually come out of the bunker to discover that they are in a pristine wilderness and that they have somehow stayed i ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 02, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in May 1998.

When I first read this book some years ago, it came over as racist and sexist. Re-reading it, I'm not so sure; I think Heinlein was trying to do something rather more subtle.

Farnham's Freehold starts as a fairly standard post-apocalyptic tale, with a Russian missile attack on the US leading to the Farnham family hiding out in the bunker built by Hugh Farnham and derided by most of the family. Damage to the bunker forces the family - and Barbara, w
...more
Mad Russian the Traveller
I have read many of Heinlein's earlier novels (marketed to the YA demographic) in my youth, and then later I absorbed a few of his more well known works (like Stranger...etc.), but this novel is new to me.

When I come to a novel that I haven't yet read, I find it helpful to NOT check reviews or plot spoilers before plunging in. Sometimes, I end up seeing some reviews, but for this novel, a few of the reviews that I took a peak at seemed to be describing two different stories. Now that I am mostly
...more
Doug Turnbull
Jul 24, 2012 Doug Turnbull rated it it was amazing
Farnham’s Freehold was copyrighted in 1964 by Robert A. Heinlein and published that same year by G. P. Putnam’s Sons of New York. Initially set in the time in which it was written, at the height of the Cold War, in typical Heinlein fashion, this book starts off with a bang as the main character, Hugh Farnham and his family were blasted 2000 years into the future by a Russian atomic bomb. They survived the event because Hugh had the foresight to build a bomb shelter under his home. How the family ...more
girlwithglasses
Nov 19, 2011 girlwithglasses rated it did not like it
Speculative fiction requires some suspension of disbelief, but accepting the female characters in "Farnham's Freehold" as realistic was a bit too much. The book was written in the pre-feminist days of 1964, so perhaps our hero Hugh's patronising attitude towards females and his amazing seductive powers can be blamed partly on those times. Still, the heart-felt speech given by his daughter, declaring that she would bear his child, was implausible and utterly icky, as was the daughter's joy at hea ...more
Cteames
Jul 19, 2013 Cteames rated it really liked it
Those insisting that this book is racist and/or sexist have either not actually read the book in its entirety or are incapable of comprehending satire. To say that Heinlein is sexist or racist because of this book is akin to saying that Mark Twain was a racist because he wrote Huckleberry Finn. Heinlein wrote Freehold to CONDEMN racism and sexism in a shocking, iconoclastic manner. His use of the term "sluts" in context with this book could only be taken offensively by the most puritan-minded su ...more
George
Feb 08, 2008 George rated it it was ok
Although much of the book is based on a fairly repulsive plot line of what would happen if Blacks were in charge instead of Whites, it's not without any appeal. If I didn't know Heinlein better, I'd suspect this is a subversive subtext suggesting that having blown up the world Whites are indeed reaping what they sowed. But Heinlein was a pulp writer going back to the 30's, and if you read some of that stuff you'll see plenty of other suggestions of deeply embedded racism, which he either held or ...more
Chris
Apr 11, 2014 Chris rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shayna
Mar 04, 2009 Shayna rated it liked it
I love apocalyptic novels. Give me some canned goods and the end of civilization as we know it and I'm happy. The problem with this particular "Alternate Ending to the Cold War" selection is the dialogue, particularly in the first few chapters, which is ridiculous. The controversy surrounding the book's initial publishing is understandable, but I couldn't help but feel that the controversy was the purpose of the book rather than its result. I wanted so badly to love this book, but I could only ...more
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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre
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