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Red Alert

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  418 ratings  ·  56 reviews
It was the worst of all possible worst-case scenarios in the Cold War - an American general loses his reason and orders a full-scale nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R.
From that premise, Peter George's 1958 novel Red Alert spins a grim tale of just how close to nuclear destruction the world can be. A dying man suffering from the paranoid delusion that he will make the world a b
ebook, 191 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by RosettaBooks (first published January 1st 1958)
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I began Red Alert knowing it would be a straightforward thriller about mutually assured destruction and that the satire present in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which is based on the book, would not be present. Essentially, excluding the ending, both the movie and the book are similar in structure and events. The book was simply missing the satire. There was a great deal of military style technicalities and I remember beginning to feel invested when readin ...more
This may be the last review I write. I am told by a semi-reliable source that this is the eve of the end of the world. Tomorrow, May 22nd, 2011, the earth will be destroyed. I was offered a spiritual ticket on something called the S. S. Rapture. However I doubt that I am destined for sainthood and will remain on planet Earth to watch the rest of us perish. My one and only hope is that the end of the world is not nearly as boring as Red Alert.

A little background may be needed here. Red Alert was
A.L. Sowards
I was introduced to the movie Dr. Strangelove in college, and this is the book the movie was based on. An Air Force general decides the only way to beat the Soviet Union is to strike first, so he initiates a plan designed in case of a nuclear attack on the US that leaves it leaderless, thus the plan doesn’t need a politician’s approval. Thirty-one bombers set out to drop their nukes on the Soviet Union, and no one but the general can stop them or communicate with them.

Bryant created an interest
Rich Meyer
If you're looking at reading this book because the Stanley Kubrick black comedy film Dr. Strangelove was based on it, you might want to put it down and go and try to find the novelization of the actual film. I've read them both, and can tell you that Red Alert had absolutely NONE of the humor of the film.

Red Alert is a straight-forward cold war thriller. In fact, anyone familiar with the book or movie Fail-Safe will find a nearly identical story here. The writers of Fail-Safe actually sued Pete

I read Peter Bryant's 1958 novel Red Alert, which was the inspiration for the movie Dr. Strangelove. The two diverge in very significant ways that ultimately highlight Stanley Kubrick's creative talents, not to mention Peter Sellers'. The novel is earnest and dead serious. A rogue general (the novel's Quentin becomes Jack D. Ripper in the movie) decides the only way to save the world is to destroy the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal, even though that m
Sean O'Hara
Everyone's familiar with the bizarre history of 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the novel is by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick based upon the film by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, which was based upon the novel by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick ... However, this is nothing compared to the convoluted history of Dr. Strangelove.

In 1958, RAF officer Peter George (using the pseudonym Peter Bryant) wrote Red Alert, a straight thriller about a nuclear war started by a deranged USAF of
This is an interesting little curiosity of a book (long novella, really). I have an odd fondness for nuclear apocalyptic 50s fiction, and Red Alert is one of the earliest of the genre. The story is written very soberly and seriously, with many fiddly details of military procedure. The men are all manly and stoic, and overall almost no one has any particular personality. Still, it did provide a pretty compelling example of the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, and while it dragged very ba ...more
For those who don't know this 1958 book was the basis for Stanley Kubrick's 1964 movie "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."
However, the book is not at all like the movie. The book is written in all seriousness by a man who was very anti-nuclear weapons. It covers two hours in which the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
A SAC general, dying, decides to launch a pre-emptive strike on Russia to save the United States. The next two hours follow the action at h
As you probably know (and would have learned from the cover had you not) this book is the basis for "Dr. Strangelove" and, as you may learn from other reviews, provides only the basis, even though a substantial one. The story is the same as the movie, but this is a serious, sober examination of what the movie treats as a dark comedy. The movie also changes all the names for some reason.

I also read somewhere that the author, Peter Bryant, sued the author of Fail Safe saying it was essentially th
Roger L.
This book is stupid. I can see why Kubrick decided to send it up. The idea that the President of the US would willingly let the USSR nuke Atlantic City as a tit-for-tat is absurd (although, as the character Falken said of the same thing happening to Las Vegas in the film "Wargames", it would have been a "fittingly biblical end to the place"). Read it only if you've seen Dr Strangelove first, otherwise it will just seem dumb.
I went back and forth between a 3-star rating and a 4-star and finally settled on 3 when I asked myself if I would ever recommend this book to anyone else and the answer was, "Eh, not really."

I picked it up because of an Amazon sale on books upon which famous movies were based. This one is the foundation for 'Dr. Strangelove' which I have somehow never seen (though I intend to rectify that shortly). Red Alert is written as deadly serious, very much a product of exactly its time and place during
Interesting read, especially when you compare and contrast it to the movie, "Doctor Strangelove", which was based on this novel. The book is serious, while the movie is darkly satirical. Much of the basic story is the same, though details vary.

The entire (though not long) novel takes place during only about a 2-3 hour period. That, along with the nature of the story (nuclear war) makes for a fairly high state of tension throughout, but it is never sensationalized or over the top.

Interestingly, t
Chris McClinch
The novel that spawned both Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe. This book was an intriguing product of its times: a book from the time before mutually assured destruction was a reality and when a "winnable" nuclear war was a theoretical possibility. As you'd expect, this made the world a much tenser place; an enemy who thinks he can survive attacking you is more likely to attack than one who knows it would be his death sentence. The level of the writing and characterization isn't really up to the lev ...more
I read this out of curiosity recently, because I like 'Dr. Strangelove'. The book doesn't have the humor of the movie - no conspiracy theories about fluoridation of tap water, and no George C. Scott yelling about 'the Big Board'. It was an interesting read, though, and helped me appreciate the film even more.
Not a bad read. It takes about as long to read it as the story's chronology, 2 hours. The film has a greater debt to the book than I imagined, right down to OPE and the CRM 114. If you liked the picture, you'll enjoy the book, which has a much more optimistic outlook than Kubrick's vision.
This was an interesting read and a bit hard to rate. Film geeks will like it (as I did) if only to see the kernel that inspired Dr. Strangelove (who unfortunately does not appear in the book). From a strictly literary perspective though, this is more of a 2 star book. It's not great - the writing is a bit stilted, shifting from academic to preachy at times. But there is a story here. I didn't go in to this expecting a funny book as some other reviewers did, and maybe that's why I wasn't truly di ...more
Michael P.
Rather impressed and certainly surprised...especially since I expected a bit more dark humor, based on the treatment the book received in "Dr. Strangelove."

Instead, I found the text profound, suspenseful, and thoughtfully written. The book offers a better overall treatment of themes than the movie, with considerable examination of deterrence theory and targeting strategy. It's certainly not surprising that the book is better than the movie it inspired, but the narrative and story itself in this
Dad Bowers
OK, on my Kindle somehow; I was surprised how it was similar to Dr Strangelove, but different and more serious.
Very good, in some ways better than the movie it inspired ("Dr. Strangelove"). Thule even gets an appearance.
Chase Stockstill
Not terrible by any means, but it wouldn't be particularly memorable without the satirical film it inspired.
Basis for Dr. Strangelove. Nuclear threats, cold war, frank discussions, military plans.
After reading this book, my respect for the movie has grown !
When it said that "Dr. Strangelove" was based on it, I actually expected it to be more loosely based. Sure, a lot of it is different, but I could definitely see how Dr. Strangelove came out of this book. Well, everything except for Dr. Strangelove himself. But I actually liked that it was MORE militarily accurate. Anyone who loves the movie should still read this. But don't expect it to be the same, just the basis of the movie.
Oct 11, 2008 lyndel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I've put this book up as I just watched the amazing film by Stanely Kubrick called "Dr Strangelove or how i learnt to stop worrying and learned to love the bomb" . The film was loosely based on this book but turned into a comic masterpiece starring peter sellers playing the president of usa , a mad german nuclear scientist and a very upper class RAF pilot . IT's completetly surreal ! if you haven't seen it try and get hold of it !!
Cold War paranoia, nuclear brinksmanship, and the dedication of an American B52 crew intent on completing it's mission regardless of the cost. It's more tense as a novel than Kubrik's film version, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

Overall, I think the similar, yet different, Failsafe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler was a better book.
Richard Buro
The parallels between this book and Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove are numerous. but there are subtle differences as well. It is also clear that Kubrick used a good deal of creative effort to provide the humor of Peter Sellers to enhance the basic gist of Bryant's work. The idea of trading cities as ameans of limiting nuclear warfare was a principle element in the movie Fail Safe.
While this book was the basis for Dr. Strangelove be warned there isn't a single laugh in it. The story in this book is serious and a reminder of how easily human civilization could have ended. It is well written and I found it difficult to put down. The only thing that broke the spell for me was American characters using British expressions. Overall though well worth reading.
Written in 1958 this is a great thriller that captures the post sputnik fears of the free world. The Russians (not called Soviets in America yet...) are about the field ICBMs, the US is way behind.

You've seen the movie, the book is similar but has with a serious tone, not the dark humor of Kubrick.

Oh... And Kubrick renamed the movie: Dr Strangelove.

The book upon which "Dr. Strangelove" was based and "Fail Safe" was accused of plagiarizing. A Cold War thriller that has a dying general start a nuclear attack on Russia as the world's best hope for peace. Certainly scary but the plot is pretty straightforward and the ending is a little to wrapped up for me. Stick with Henry Fonda in the movie...
Steve Mitchell
Red Alert is one of the books - along with Fail Safe - that the movie Dr Strangelove was based upon. Where the movie is the blackest of black comedies this is a political thriller full of tension. This is also a prime example of seeing the film first will spoil the book but not vice versa: so if you have not seen the film read this book first.
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