“Unfortunately, the cyber threat to ‘the grid’ is only one means of eviscerating the soft underbelly of American society. Another which has been getting increasing attention could be delivered via the kind of nuclear-armed ballistic missile that Iran and North Korea have been developing: a strategic electro-magnetic pulse attack.” –Frank Gaffney
It starts out as a normal day.
Then, a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes over the United States. And suddenly, there will never again be a ‘normal day’.
Retired army colonel John Matherson teaches college, raises two daughters, and grieves the loss of his wife to cancer. Now, John must do everything he can to save his family as society begins to fail around them. John rushes to the drug store immediately. After all, his type-one diabetic 12-year-old will desperately need her insulin – and with the highways jammed with vehicles that no longer run, pharmaceutical companies that can no longer produce drugs, getting the insulin will be imperative. But there is only so much available – and after that?
Deaths start with heart attacks and eventually escalate alarmingly. Food becomes scarce, and societal breakdown proceeds with inevitable violence; towns burn, people are murdered for supplies, and roving gangs begin terrorizing towns where people have come together to help one another survive.
One Second After may not really be the “best book I have ever read” for its literary merit. Yes, it is well written, well scripted, and realistic in tone and writing style. What makes it the “best” is how REAL it is. America is, as is readily admitted by our government and military, NOT ready for an EMP. And should the blast actually occur, I can absolutely see exactly the outcome as envisioned by Forstchen. A total breakdown of everything that we, today, take as being the human condition. Forstchen does not paint a totally black picture – people do come together to help one another survive, moving back to the agrarian society of old, relying on one another to survive, bartering and helping. But there is also the black and bitter side of humanity.
This book should be REQUIRED reading for every single person in this country. Once it happens —
“American society has grown so dependent on computer and other electrical systems that we have created our own Achilles’ heel of vulnerability, ironically much greater than those of other, less developed nations. When deprived of power, we are in many ways helpless, as the New York City blackout made clear. In that case, power was restored quickly because adjacent areas could provide help. But a large-scale burnout . . . would create a much more difficult situation.”*
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning – Rich Cook
Will the future bring your wisdom to me?
Or will darkness rule the kingdom for all eternity? Nostradamus
A TEN Star Review for intelligence and terrifying reality
Seven Unholy Days scared the breath out of me. Not because of the amazing writing, which it was, but due to the absolutely clear-sighted horrifying truth of the tale.
In Jerry’s last thriller, Pawnbroker, he used his extensive knowledge of computer forensics to create a scenario which lent a stark reality to his work. Now, in Seven Unholy Days, he goes further still, using his technical and computing expertise to create a novel of power and believability that will keep you awake at night.
“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step” Denis Diderot 1713-1784
In Jerry’s newest thriller, he posits a scenario that is only too realistic. The complete collapse of the American power grid at the hands of a powerful, wealthy religious fanatic. The whole country goes dark. The terrorist’s demand? A “Decree of Darkness.” America is to remain in the dark, no electrical power allowed. Not wishing to bow to the demands of a terrorist, the President allows the lead character of the book, Matt Decker, the computer specialist who designed and installed the new control systems for the American power grid, to turn the power back on. What happens is horrifying and real enough to chill my blood.
The death of an individual is a tragedy. The death of a million a statistic. Joseph Stalin
p The setting of the book, Iuka, Mississipi, where the “Great Central Electric” power transfer station is located is right in the author’s comfort zone and his description of the area and the people draw you into the story. You can almost feel the heat of a Mississippi day and feel the humidity. As in “Pawnbroker” the characters are fully realized and well-rounded, lending them a believability that makes you like them, or hate them in a realistic manner.
What I found most scary about the book, other than what actually happened, is how it happened. How greed, fanaticism and political self-serving can allow an incident of completely horrifying consequence to occur. While some religious fanatics are committing abominable acts with no remorse what-so-ever in the name of “God” others are committing these acts, and worse, simply for money. While the acts of these supposed humans are gut-wrenching, they also hold that absolute ring of veracity that is without question one of the things that will cut the reader soul deep.
There are, of course, secondary stories that run throughout the book. In Pawnbroker, Jerry wove those secondary stories in a way that kept you interested and involved. Here, he goes deeper, weaving those stories in heartbreaking and chilling ways that make you think not only of his main theme, but of wider themes of fanaticism, greed, child abuse and human brutality which both open the mind and darken the soul. In the words of Herbert Ward, “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” A rather odd quote for the ideas I have been discussing in this review, but it will make sense when you read the book. And you really, really MUST read this book. It is a thriller and fiction, sure.
However, it is more than that. It is, in its way, a treatise on the power of fanaticism, the fragility of the world financial markets, and the vulnerability of the human race to its dependency on technology, as well as the lengths humans will go to find meaning in their lives through the abuse of religious ideology. It is one of those rare thrillers that has seated itself deeply into my psyche and will come back to haunt me in the future.
_____________________ * The John Kyl quote refers specifically to the effect of a major EMP pulse over the United States, but it is appropriate to this review. This book was provided to me by the author, however, that fact has no impact upon any review I may write, now or in the future.