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The Last Ship

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  3,362 ratings  ·  418 reviews
The unimaginable has happened. The world has been plunged into all-out nuclear war. Sailing near the Arctic Circle, the U.S.S. Nathan James is relatively unscathed, but the future is grim and Captain Thomas is facing mutiny from the tattered remnants of his crew. With civilization in ruins, he urges those that remain—one-hundred-and-fifty-two men and twenty-six women—to pu ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published February 13th 1989 by Ballantine Books (first published 1988)
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,362 ratings  ·  418 reviews

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Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have read many reviews by other readers of The Last Ship over the years and each of them stated the same thing... I loved the plot and persevered to the end in spite of the authors writing style. And just like so many before me, once I finished this book I too threw it against the wall and shouted, HA! This book did not beat me!

This is a doomsday story about the last American war ship desperately searching for safe harbor in an irradiated and burned world. It's also a morality tale about how
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
The journalist Ron Rosenbaum coined the term “nuke porn” (or so he claims) in a 1970 article for Harper’s called The Subterranean World of the Bomb. It’s a phrase he uses in his writings to describe just about every artistic rendering of nuclear warfare, from Dr. Strangelove on down. Now, Rosenbaum knows a lot about the atomic bomb, about the strategies and consequences of nuclear war. That is undeniable. I’m not quite sure, however, that his not-all-that-clever phrasemaking is accurate, or even ...more
David Hakamaki
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Oh my Lord, is the author long-winded. There are very few books that I need to stop reading. This is one of them. The author takes 2 pages to cover what should be covered in 1/2 page. Yes, it is that long winded. Overall, a good premise and a good story for the first 1/4 of the book (before I just lost patience and threw it down). The author seemed to have a dictionary at his desk to determine alternative words, just so his diatribe did't have to use similar utterance. His discourse meandered th ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
(Original review date: 3 October 2013)

Soooooo, this book is a piece of shit! And not your garden-variety piece of shit, either, but a vomitous clusterfuck of truly offensive, misogynistic garbage.

I stuck it out for a hundred pages, and here's what I can tell you about the plot:

The narrator is the captain of a US Navy Destroyer. There has been a nuclear war; they are, as far as they know, the Last Ship. Like, in the world. The crew numbers 250 men and 32 women. And you may be thinking - wow, if t
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The Last Ship by William Brinkley is a post-nuclear-apocalyptic novel which focuses on the survival of the crew of the destroyer Nathan James. Although, surprisingly, the actual actions of the crew are secondary to the incessant, introspective, ponderous narrative by the ship's captain. Many of the captain's reflections concern how much more wonderful sailors are, in every respect, when compared to other people. I guess it's good sailors are, perhaps, the only known survivors, huh? Someone did n ...more
Michael Pang
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to like this book.

Post-apocalyptic survival story aboard a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, right up my alley; however, I just couldn't get into the writing style.

The author knows his stuff when it comes to the U.S. Navy and personnel. Great insight into the mind of a ship captain under extraordinary circumstances. A warship navigating a post-nuclear war: encountering remote islands, scavenging wasteland coasts, survivalist, modern warships, etc.

Writing style
Sep 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
I just wanted them all to die so this book would finally be over.
John Wiltshire
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am bemused by this book. I want to like it. It has a really interesting premise--the crew of a US warship carrying nuclear missiles survives a nuclear cataclysm and finds an island to survive on. One hundred plus men and some twenty plus women. You can see the interesting scenarios developing. BUT, and this really is a big but...what the heck is this author trying to achieve with his weird impersonation of Herman Melville? If I wanted to read an eighteenth century rip-roaring salty tale of the ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This ranks as the most entertaining book I believe I have ever read. Brinkley gets the narrator Captain's thought processes perfect. How to resolve the nightmarish position in which this ship has now found itself, maintaining discipline and turning to the job most obviously at hand, how to preserve mankind, and civilization in a post apocalyptic world, all with the presence of a Russian submarine in apparent pursuit, is done with imagination and a thoroughly fast paced page turner. In its own wa ...more
Paul Finch
Jul 12, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of things happen in this book. The problem is that they occur with no build up, are related in as mind numbingly tedious a parade of pretentious twaddle as I've ever read, and then are over before they have a chance to start. Then, it's on to the next event, which will be equally devoid of any excitement, wit, charm or relatable characters. Repeat until the author just gets bored and decides to stop (there is no real conclusion).

One of, if not *the* worst book I've ever read. Avoid.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
During the Spring and Summer of 2014 I watched a cable TV series entitled THE LAST SHIP (ISBN 978-0142181836, trade paperback, $17.00). I thought the title was familiar and looked in my bookcase. There was the book by WILLIAM BRINKLEY. I realized I had bought the book about 25 years ago but had not gotten around to reading it. I am almost sorry that I did.

The story primarily follows the crew of a U.S. Navy nuclear powered, missile carrying, destroyer during and following a nuclear holocaust circ
Chris Dietzel
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to become invested in this book because much of the first third of the story contains information dumps on naval procedures and protocol that didn't interest me. The rest of the book makes up for the slow beginning, however. By the end of the book, I was fully engrossed in what was happening and wanted the story to continue.

On a side note: Brinkley has an odd author quirk of using the word 'brutal' to describe everything. Thoughts, words, actions, ideas, etc. are all variously
Michael Havens
Mar 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: THose who like Apocalyptic Literature
I have to admit that William Brinkley's 'The Last Ship' is hard to rate. I I were to have discretion, I would rate this hovering between three and four stars, but to be liberal, I'll give it a four. There is something ambitious as lirerature in this work of apocalypse. The story of the un-named commander of the destroyer, the Nathan James, has been discibed as a type od 'Heart of Darkness' of Joseph Conrad fame. The Nathan James, the seemingly only ship besides a Russian submarine, the Pushkin, ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Being an old sailor I thought I would really enjoy this book. It seems like a modern day cross between Nevil Shute "On the Beach" and David Graham's "Down to a Sunless Sea". The story isn't bad but the main character rambles and complains for pages upon pages. The book could easily be cut by 1/2. Not recommended
I guess like many i picked this up because i was aware of the recent TV series but also because I’m a fan of Post-Apocalyptic novels anyway. I've also really enjoyed The Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson and was looking forward to another book about this seemingly singular breed.

Having scanned the reviews already posted i've found that many have had the same experience i had. The book is quite clearly divided into 3 sections. The 2nd section is a recounting of the events from the brief nucl
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
I've decided to give this book two stars rather than one, because there were a few small positives. The premise was very interesting, being the reason I picked up the book in the first place. I also quite enjoyed the plot, from a high level. If someone were to summarize the novel to me I would probably be very exited to read it.

Unfortunately, everything else about it was a disaster. The biggest problem was the first person narration. A tricky thing to pull off in most cases, this problem was com
Richard Buro

The short version first . . .

There are many settings for dystopian literature. Some focus on a specific location, Area X in Jeff VandeMeer’s Area X (The Southern Reach Triology Vol. 1-3) for example. Some focus on events of man’s attempts to fix something that go horribly wrong, out of control to such a degree that the attempted fix causes a major disruption in life as we know it. A prime example is Kevin J. Anderson’s Ill Wind where an bacterial fix to a huge oil spill causes a cascading petr
Ming Wei
Excellent book, about surviving at all costs, really enjoyable, (wont include any spoilers), a very imaginative story, well written, the story is easy to follow and never gets dull, a sort of the final days on earth environment, well worth reading, no editorial errors, very good.
Jean Farrell
Oct 11, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an odd book, hard to rate. I would give the concept 4 or 5 stars, but the execution 2. So I give it a 2.5.

I read a snippet of a review written at the time the book was published that said "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.

Mild spoilers throughout. And my review criticizes the author more than I normally would, but he's been dead for years, so I can't hurt his feelings!

The idea of there being one ship of people left after an al
James Frederick
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Wow..what a long slog THAT was! On my ereader, it was almost 1,800 pages. And that was not all that big print, either.

Anyway...before undertaking this, I read many of the reviews. They are all pretty accurate and I cannot add a lot to what has been said.

This was a very strange book. It had the feel of an "epic" about it. The Iliad or Odyssey come to mind. The author used so many $64k words that if I had looked them all up, I never would have finished reading. Some of that was necessary and some
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Nathan Hale are the last survivors of an all-out nuclear war between the US and the USSR (the book having been published in 1988). The 300+ members of the crew face dwindling food supplies, dwindling reactor capability for travel, and an increasing awareness that almost all of the planet is uninhabitable. Written from the point of view of the nameless captain (a deep, interesting but sometimes excessively wordy and introspective person), Brinkley's bo ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was warned by a title page scrawl by someone who shared the opinion of many of this book's readers that this book was absolutely lousy with overwhelmingly cromulent words. I must be in the extreme minority as I found the vocabulary not as rough-going as all that.
Meanwhile, I greatly enjoyed the story. Few stories about nuclear war's aftermath do a good job with their topic. Besides 'Threads', that is. 'The last ship' did a better job than I was expecting. What does nuclear winter look like on
Jacqueline J
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book lingered in my mind for weeks after I read it. I sometimes still flash on it. It is the story of the men on a warship after global thermonuclear war. They travel around the oceans and every time you think something is going to go right for them, something worse happens. Gives you a lot to think about. Well worth the read if you like lots of characters and huge books and post apocalytic fiction.
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I cant believe I didn't catch this post apocalyptic book in the early 90's. It was great. The only part I didn't like was the detailing of the relationship between the captain and a woman. It was a little too graphic for my taste so I skipped paragraphs as needed. A mention was made at the end of the book about a tale for another book. I'll have to see if Brinkley wrote one. I didn't care for Don't Go Near the Water by Brinkley but this was so different and just the genre I like.
Patrick Nichol
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling post-apocalyptic novel on par with Nevil Shute's classic On The Beach.
How does a warship whose male crew outnumber the female survive after the world ends?
Although Brinkley's story is interesting, it is not flawless. The narrator, Capt. Tom Chandler, talks like he swallowed a thesaurus. The reader should be spared the litany of $9 words.
And for those expecting the high-octane action of Michael Bay's TV adaptation, they will be disappointed.
Nancy Brown
Jul 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read Alas Babylon instead.

Poorly and densely written, replete with anachronistic depictions of male-female relations, and some joltingly unexpected graphic sex. Very difficult to get through.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just persevere. Not an easy book to read, but the story is worth it. I cannot believe I only discovered this book this year.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I have often felt that the captain of a Navy ship is the last absolute monarch left on earth, as close to possessing the divine rights of kings as remains."

Oh my goodness! I read this book 1. because I like post-apocalyptic books, and 2. because I have the TNT series on DVD and wanted to read the book first.

I agree with all the other reviews I've read on the book - this author did not know how to use one word in a sentence if he could use 12 instead. He pontificated. He was verbose, flowery. Hi
Leah Hanley
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gripping story of an American nuclear destroyer that luckily, miraculously, survived nuclear fallout and searches for uncontaminated land to live on while also stretching fuel and food reserves enough to tie them over until they can find more or produce more. The crew experiences a number of unforeseen challenges, and since the book is narrated by the ship’s captain in past tense we get a very nice top-down perspective on the strategies, pitfalls, and generally widespread effects of the events a ...more
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William Clark "Bill" Brinkley was an American writer and journalist.

Brinkley is perhaps best known for his 1988 novel, The Last Ship, and his 1956 novel, Don't Go Near the Water, which was later adapted to film in 1957 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as Don't Go Near the Water.

Brinkley was born in Custer City, Oklahoma on September 10, 1917, the youngest of five children and the son of a minister. He gradu
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“I’ve often wondered which, psychiatry or religion, has done more damage. Between them, they about owned it all.” 3 likes
“profoundly complex systems” 1 likes
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