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Level 7

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,207 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Level 7 is the diary of Officer X-127, who is assigned to stand guard at the "Push Buttons," a machine devised to activate the atomic destruction of the enemy, in the country’s deepest bomb shelter. Four thousand feet underground, Level 7 has been built to withstand the most devastating attack and to be self-sufficient for five hundred years. Selected according to a psycho ...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 24th 2004 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published 1959)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Erik Graff
Jan 18, 2012 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cold war fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I read this book during the 1961 Berlin crisis while still in primary school. Science fiction was already an addiction and I'd put away a book or two a day when school wasn't in session. Politics was also of interest since Dad had been a vocal supporter of Kennedy against Nixon the previous year as well as active in community affairs. Indeed, he took me to village board meetings, encouraging my interest in public affairs and reading of the newspaper.

The Berlin crisis had lasted from the previous
***Review below contains some spoilers.***

Bleak. With no chance of redemption whatsoever. If you like happy endings, you might want to stay away from this book.

This book is quiet similar to On the Beach and Alas, Babylon, both in the era in which they were published and the primary subject matter with which they deal: nuclear apocalypse. While I personally found On the Beach totally unimpressive and a drag, Alas, Babylon became one of my favorite novels.

So where does "Level 7" stand?

Well, whi
Diana Welsch
Oct 02, 2011 Diana Welsch rated it really liked it
Level 7 is the tale of a military man who lives in a bunker 4,400 feet below the surface of the earth. His job is to sit in a room and wait for the command to push a series of buttons which will unleash complete nuclear destruction on the earth. He is not told why he is to go into the bunker beforehand, and when he gets there he finds out that he must spend the rest of his life there.

He's not the only one down there. There are two more people like him who wait in shifts for the command to come.
John Walsh
Mar 17, 2015 John Walsh rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that rewards patient reading--its cumulative power is immense. We follow the diary of a man who lives on Level 7 of a bunker where the best and brightest go in a kind of experiment to see how humans would endure extended life in isolation after a nuclear holocaust. The details of day to day life are interesting enough, but the book's best aspect is the growing sense of dread that our protagonist will have to do his duty in case of war.

Once he does this simple, unremar
Sep 13, 2013 Manny rated it liked it
"I am the god who pushed the buttons," says the narrator, a dull nuclear weapons technician who happens to be the proximate cause of starting World War III. Later, he apologizes for this atypical and unprofessional lapse into poetry.
Mar 09, 2016 Claudia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dys-u-topia
A deeply sarcastic dystopian novel regarding the stupidity of nuclear weapons, decisions behind and behaviour of people involved. However, I have found the characters and writing too dull to empathize with the enormity of the act.
Dec 17, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure where this book would rank on my list if I re-read it now - but it left an indelible mark on the mind of my twelve-year-old self. Aside from weeks of nightmares about an atomic war, it’s influenced my opinion of every other post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read since . . . usually to their detriment, as none of them ever hit me emotionally in quite the same way.
Jan 01, 2016 Marcele rated it really liked it
This book provides so much food for thought. It's incredible how humanity have to destroy what they have on the hope that they,will win something completely desnecessary.
Michael Scott
Oct 30, 2014 Michael Scott rated it liked it
Level 7 is the story of an atomic war, and of the post-apocalyptic world briefly succeeding it. Written at the start of the race for nuclear domination, in plain Cold War's mid-1950s, Mordecai Roshwald 's book was aimed to be a deterrent to atomic weapons and related politics. Overall, a frightening book that reads poorly; had it not been for the topic, a solid 1-star.

The plot is simplistic--the two world super-powers have both acquired nuclear bombs sufficient to wipe each other out. When the t
Nov 17, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: apocalyptastic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2012 Miles rated it really liked it
Level 7 isn't truly a book that I just read. It's a book that I've just re-read, which is a bit different. With over 25 years since the first reading, however, my views and appreciation for the art intrinsic in the novel have changed a bit.

First off, I should say that the copy I first read was without the preface found in my new copy. For first time readers I'd recommend reading that preface after the whole of the novel. It's rather heavy-handed in reinforcing the spin of the novel and rather ru
May 03, 2016 Brian rated it liked it
What I found most disturbing about this novel was not the hopelessness of the Level 7 dwellers, buried thousands of feet beneath the earth, then assigned to annihilate humanity and continue living for 500 years. I suppose we've heard that story before and become dulled to the prospect of a fusion armageddon. I was more repelled by the personalities of the individuals on level 7. X-127 guesses that they must have all been chosen for their mission because they don't like others, and are all ...more
No Remorse
Oct 19, 2009 No Remorse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, shtf
This book starts off really good and grabs your attention right away, and it ends even better. Its basically about a man who is in training and gets promoted and taken 4,300 feet below ground to do his job, with a select group of other people. The earth is scorched due to nuclear war and the only survivors are those who went underground. The book is written in a diary format as the main character enters level 7 and all the way until the end. This is a must read if you ask me, great book... well ...more
Oct 13, 2016 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
7 of 10 stars
Kathleen Fowler
Feb 23, 2014 Kathleen Fowler rated it liked it
I just finished reading Wool, another post-apocalyptic book about life underground, and decided it was time to read Level 7 again. About ten years ago my teenage son and I both read it and agreed it was quite good.

Level 7 is written in the form of a diary. It is the diary of a military man who has been assigned to Level 7, a subterranean command post/bomb shelter that has been built to endure for 500 years if need be. The personnel who are “stationed” here are technicians, doctors, psychologist
Patrick Gibson
Jun 14, 2011 Patrick Gibson rated it really liked it
I am so glad this novel is now available in e-book form. I read it in high school, loved it, and have wanted to read it again. I’m sure that beat up library copy was out of print even then. What? I just noticed it was published in 1960. No wonder it was in crappy condition and smelled of mildew. I am even more impressed the story feels so 2011ish.

The story is told in diary form, written by a missile technician only known as x-127. The story starts out as the solider x-127 and 250 other soldiers
Michelle Kisner
May 16, 2011 Michelle Kisner rated it it was amazing
Very chilling book. I have always been obsessed with stories/films about nuclear holocaust. This is an older book, written during the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. As was common at that time, the story focuses on the absurdness of the concept of "Mutual Assured Destruction", wherein if two parties are engaging in nuclear war, both sides try to completely destroy the enemy even if they themselves have already been decimated.

Level 7 revolves around a multi-level underground bunker that hol
Jul 22, 2015 Nawfal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little difficult to find a copy of this. This is a quick read, which surprised me. I expected a much worse novel, to be honest. I expected tedious preaching and vague droning. Instead, this is the novel that happens after all the faux-conundrums get asked. You know, "If you got paid a trillion dollars if you just pressed a button - but that button destroys so many people... would you do it?" This is that novel. Very clinical and scientific approach to the worst situation: mutual destruction ...more
Jan 24, 2009 Derek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
The book reads like a twisted version of Plato's Republic - a dissertation on the sort of society and people required to commit and survive atomic armageddon. It is a coldly logical social structure inhabited by emotionally stunted human beings, whose purpose is to be the push-button operators for otherwise fully-automated weaponry, and later to continue the species.

Parts border on parody. From their deep-hole bunkers, politicians spit vitriol upon their enemy counterparts, even after such chest
Jobjörn Folkesson
Jul 30, 2016 Jobjörn Folkesson rated it really liked it
Den här läste jag i skolan när vi läste engelska C - eller något i den stilen - istället för den egentligen ordinerade boken (som verkade svintråkig). Det var alltså uppemot 10 år sedan jag läste den, men den gjorde ändå ett starkt intryck. Det kan ha varit den första boken jag läst som handlade om Kärnvapenkriget. Ömsesidig total förgörelse som hotbild mot världen är en aning passé idag av flera skäl - mer akuta känns problem med t.ex. klimatförändringar eller antiobiotikaresistens - men jag ...more
May 06, 2013 Shawn rated it really liked it
I struggled with whether to give this three or four stars. I settled on four because any novel written almost 55 years ago that feels this fresh and relevant is really quite remarkable.
While reading, I found myself wishing that more detail had been given, and time devoted, to background and personal information about the characters, particularly the narrator. I suppose, however, that it was more effective to maintain the "nuclear war mentality" by not making it so much a human story as an inhum
Jul 19, 2012 Plucino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Livello 7" è il diario dell'ufficiale X-127, assegnato di guardia sul fondo del più profondo rifugio antiatomico.

Quattromila metri sotto terra, il Livello 7 è stato costruito per sostenere attacchi atomici e garantire l'autosufficienza per cinquecento anni in caso di attacco nucleare.

Le bombe atomiche esplodono, ma le cose forse non andranno come previsto...

Questo potente romanzo distopico del 1959 rimane una delle più disperate visioni sulla guerra atomica.
Sep 16, 2007 Sheehan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: apocalit fans
Pretty straight-forward post-nuke serving of the everyman, the consummate serviceman, "cog-in-the-wheel." A pretty enjoyable treatment on the power of passivity, I think this might be a good preface to reading the Stranger (finish strong of course), both are heavy with the hand of hopelessness, resolved faith in the faithless, it's worth a read.
Mar 14, 2009 Ilia rated it did not like it
Kind of wish I didn't read this book. Don't know what possessed me to keep reading it. Worst writing style I remember in a while. It is clear that the author was going for a kind of satire, setting up straw-man characters to poke fun at. Didn't work. Don't read it, really.
Raegan Butcher
May 02, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it liked it
Recommends it for: peacniks & war-mongers
Grim and horrifying depiction of life in an underground bunker, waiting to unleash the missiles that will destroy the outside world, then doing just that and reaping the consequences. Written in first person diary form. Highly recommended.
Mar 07, 2016 Samu rated it it was amazing
The incredible stupidity of the human race, in 200 pages or less. Nuclear war destroys humanity, or humanity destroys humanity through nuclear war. Hugh Howie must have gotten his inspiration for Silo from Mordecai Roshwald.

Just read it.
Reads like an old school utopia novel -- the kind that's more explaining what the utopia's going to be like, rather than the kind with a... y'no, plot.
Cynthia Rider
Feb 08, 2013 Cynthia Rider rated it it was ok
If you like being bludgeoned repeatedly with the author's social/political views about war and conformity, then this book is for you.
Frank Sullivan
This book is very thought-provoking, although written during cold war times it still bears witness to these days. I had higher expectations for this book but still not disappointed.
Jul 27, 2011 Medina added it
Shelves: dystopia
I am disturbed, but this is probably the most realistic ending to a post apoctalipic everyone live underground story I have ever read.
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Roshwald was an American academic and writer. Born in Drohobycz, Poland, Roshwald he later emigrated to Israel. His most famous work is the novel Level 7, a post-apocalyptic science-fiction novel. He is also the author of A Small Armageddon (1962) and Dreams and Nightmares: Science and Technology in Myth and Fiction (2008).

Roshwald was a "professor emeritus of humanities at the University of Minne
More about Mordecai Roshwald...

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