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The Day Before Midnight

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,824 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Paramilitary terrorists who have taken over a top-secret nuclear complex kidnap Maryland welder Jack Hummel and force him to cut through a half-ton titanium block that conceals the launch button.
ebook, 432 pages
Published October 21st 2009 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1989)
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David Lucero
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This page-turning, action-packed novel was an inspiration for me to write THE SANDMAN, my first novel. The whole story takes place in a single day, with realistic action scenes, tongue-in-cheek writing, and characters that leave you cheering, and jeering. I read this book in three days! And have since read it twice. Definitely one of Stephen Hunter's best!

Set during the Cold War, a renegade Russian Army general and a Spetsnaz (Russian Special Forces) unit take control of a nuclear missile site i
Jun 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Stephen Hunter, fans of military thrillers
For several years leading up to The Day Before Midnight Stephen Hunter had written some fair, but not outstanding novels. The one constant throughout the early novels was an attention to detail when it came to firearms. However to me the earlier novels felt like Hunter was trying too hard. That he wanted to be "literary" instead of just a novelist of entertaining thrillers.

The Day Before Midnight changed all that. I read it when it was released as a paperback in the late eighties and it blew me
Danielle Tremblay
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This is "just an airport novel" only in the sense that Die Hard (the first one) was "just another action movie." In other words, you have here a familiar genre and set-up (here, the "countdown to Armageddon") being taken to a peak level by expert craftsmanship.

A large part of the book's success is that it's a fascinating, deeply-researched book that refuses to settle on just technical jargon... or even get by on its tightly-woven, brilliant plotting or technicolor-vivid prose. Instead, Hunter co
Jonathan Briggs
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hunter needs to sue somebody's ass. What we have here is a prototype for the TV show "24" (tho this is more like "17," and someone forgot 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. in all the excitement). Each chapter is an hour, and the clock is ticking while the heroes race to avert global catastrophe. In this case, terrorist commandos have taken over a nuclear missile silo in rural Maryland, and a band of scientists, feds, Delta badasses, Vietnam vets and clutzy National Guardsmen try to prevent World War II ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This 25 year old '89 Hunter story is typical of the post cold war time period that saw the Soviets finish second. More sacrifices than necessary were made. 4 of 10 stars
Koon Hui
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked up this book to reread for the 100th time. This book hooked me on to the author who also has a series on bob lee swagger (sniper) whose character is now on TV in the series Shooter. The day before midnight is unique that it has a host of characters from the average joes to the elite military team that are all somehow central to the conclusion of the theme.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Everyone writes about "a book you can't put down." This is the novel that defines that phrase. Great plot, great characters, great writing.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great military thriller.
Ben Vogel
Not Hunter's best book and not particularly memorable in any way. Ask me 5 years from now and I won't recall a single interesting moment.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tucker Elliot
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an old school Stephen Hunter thriller that grabs you from the opening pages and takes you on a frenetic race that never lets up until it reaches a tense, dramatic conclusion.

A family is taken hostage and the father – a welder – is coerced into doing a treacherous job; a professor stumbles through a lecture as he tries to find some semblance of order in his life after a messy break-up with his wife; a Vietnam veteran is now imprisoned in solitary confinement; and a bungling Soviet spy who
Roberto Scarlato
I'm probably the only one who will say this but when it comes to this novel, which I give props to the author for creating suspense, it is just too long and drawn out. I think I was at page 350 when I finally couldn't take it anymore and threw the book at the wall. It is good to build up suspense in a novel but, after reading this one, now I know that there is such a thing as too much suspense. As a writer's gimmick, you have to gradually give little hints and problematic, somewhat inescapable e ...more
Bob Ryan
Jun 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a number of Mr. Hunter's books and enjoyed them all. He's developed a great character in Bob Lee Swagger and has several very entertaining books about sniper warfare. I'm also convinced he's solved the JFK assassination in his novel, The Third Bullet.

This book starts a little slow (for the first 20 pages) and then takes off like a rocket, a nuclear rocket, for the next 380. The book is divided into hourly chapters, like the 24 TV show. Each chapter is packed with action, suspense and
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure how this novel would be, knowing that it did not feature Hunter's old friend, Bob Lee Swagger. In the end, it was a fine novel for escapist fiction, pretty much what I want from a novel. Like some other reviewers, I thought it was a bit too long and drawn out. It could have been tightened up a little, but probably not too much. On the other hand, I was unhappy with a few minor dangling threads. For example, I would have liked one last scene reuniting the welder with his kids. Also, ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really entertaining book, action is fast paced, has different point of views that change really fast. Only problem with it was the format, at least twice i had to reread before realizing that the author has changed to another character's POV, because at first the writing didn't make sense at all. But it was probably a Kindle format problem, as there was no separation in those POV changes.

Overall it's really entertaining, there are moments when you feel like you're in the middle of it and think
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't stop reading this book. My experience with Stephen Hunter before this was limited to his Bob Lee Swagger series, so I wasn't sure what to expect from a book without good ole' Gunny. But whatever expectations I had, Hunter blew them away. The story was masterfully woven together from the different characters' points of view, and all of those stories contributed perfectly to the whole. The characters were likable, the pace was good... I just can't say enough good things about this book. ...more
An action packed espionage thriller from Stephen Hunter which I felt was much in the end of the world theme as many of Tom Clancy's efforts. I have enjoyed Hunter's stories and his writing but this one was a little to camp with nuclear bombs being disarmed in their final seconds pushing my limits. The author did make the story more enjoyable by inserting many real ordinary people showing extraordinary bravery into the mas of Delta forces, Rangers and other specially trained military types. Few d ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuclear thriller. Once again the professionals outsmart themselves and real people save the day. I like Hunter's writing style. The characters jump off the page. I not only can see them and hear the pitch of their voice, but I can understand their motivation, almost feel their emotions. Good story, too. A real page turner.
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always like this book. More for the scenario and descriptions of South Mountain that for any brilliance of the prose. It's an interesting story set during the cold war, and doesn't reach real far out for technology or justification. Most of the characters are shallow-ish, but they don't all need to be "character of ultimate depth" for you to enjoy the read.
Kurt Fasulo Jr.
Fast paced action

First of all, one of the protagonists is named Dick Puller. Dick. Puller. If that's not reason enough to read it, then I would say that the suspense is. Hunter does a pretty nice job of keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the story. Thus far, my favorite of his early books.
Peter Bingham-Pankratz
I see this is on a list of "Manfiction." That would be an accurate description for this book. I'm a sucker for "Die Hard"-like scenarios and this book fits that mold. Lots of action here, though unfortunately we are not meant to care about many of the characters in this book--and many are disposable. Mildly entertaining.
Prognomore LAFIANZA
Another good yarn by Stephen Hunter

A fast-moving, stand alone novel set in central Maryland. The excitement builds as time ticks down on a fateful day that will surely end in worldwide nuclear annihilation. Heavy casualties for every day people attempting to stop the madness brought the reality of armed conflict home for this reader. I hope it is made into a movie some day.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Cons: Implausible-on-many-levels doomsday scenario. Sad subplot. Borderline racist and sexist characterizations. Questionably warmongering delight in battle.

Pro: Compulsively gripping, eyebrow-raising action from start to finish. I actually talked out loud to the book at points, e.g., "No way," or "Ooooh."
Awesome. Perfect beach reading: Brilliant plotting, effortless characterization, and possibly the most head-spinning use of parallel narrative ever deployed. There are times when I suspect there's really nothing better than very, very good genre fiction, and Hunter's book strongly suggest that's true.
Earl Baugh
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book my Dad recommended. One of the few that he recommended. We had been reading Clancy books (I got him started, and he'd read them as he worked Security at the Cape during the midnight shift). Someone gave him this one, and it was one of few that he thought was good enough to pass to me.
Steve Davis
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one keep me turning pages. Could not put this military/terrorist thriller down. If you like action and adventure this is one you have to read. Hunter knows his weapons and military facts down cold.
Hernan Kein
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
first rate, Hunter's finest book.

This has to be one of the most well paced and well written "white-knuckle" books I have ever read. The break neck story gallops along with well drawn characters, riveting twists and clearly well researched.
Andrew Cormier
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I found this to be an excellent, fast-paced novel with a great set of characters and plot. It held my attention throughout the entire story and I was eager to pick it up each night to see what would happen next. I highly recommend this book.
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I remember reading this book as a child and really liking it. Fast paced, with likable characters and gripping action, I read this book in a day during the summer. But, who knows? I was just a dumb kid, this book probably sucks.
I've enjoyed every Stephen Hunter that I've read. I prefer the Bob Lee Swagger series, but I have to say that this one was also a 5-star book for me.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
Stephen Hunter is the author of fourteen novels, and a chief film critic at The Washington Post, where he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
More about Stephen Hunter...
“The Americans, he laughed drunkenly. They build more cars than anybody in the world, and take them out and dump them in terrible traffic jams. The only thing crazier than the Americans were the Russians, who never had traffic jams because they didn’t have cars.” 0 likes
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