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Warday: And the Journey Onward - Whitley Strieber

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Whitley Strieber, James Kunetka / Hardcover / 374 Pages / Book is published 1984-04 by Henry Holt & Co

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      20.01.2009 21:31
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      An engaging alternative history.

      Warday tells the story of an America, post nuclear war, through the eyes of two writers taking a trip across the shattered nation. Warday began in October 1987 and was a brief nuclear exchange between the USA and Russia, but its after effects were the most catastrophic - disease, radiation and starvation.

      OK, now the book is very dated, but it's an interesting testament to the time and the age it was written in. The Russians and the Americans were in the middle of the 'Star Wars' program at the time - the ability to destroy incoming ICBM's before they reached the target. The fact that the book is set in 1993, several years after the nuclear exchange is interesting and rather seeing it as a future novel, it could be seen now as an 'alternative history' story. This gets around the obvious problem of the book seeming 'dated'.

      If you've seen and enjoyed the nightmarish 'Threads' and 'The Day After', you will certainly enjoy Warday. Its depiction of life post-nuclear war is realistic and troubling. Its still relevant today and has lost none of its impact. If you can imagine replacing Russia with Iran, then the effects would be quite similar.

      The clever way that the writers have made the book a part novel, part documentary makes the book not only readable, but also believable. Its not sci-fi or thriller - its an intriguing 'what-if' scenario.

      Warday certainly covers all the bases. It has interviews, government documents and fiction - and they all seem to blend together into a very readable novel. The first chapter that describes the nuclear attack on New York is especially good - full of terror and immense realisation that everything changes from this time on.

      If you are familiar with the madness and sheer terror of the excellent BBC drama 'Threads' which depicted a nuclear attack in the North of England, then Warday is a little less catastrophic and much more optimistic than that film. It shows Americans as hardy troopers, willing to overcome the immense destruction around them, and rebuild their shattered nation.

      Its up to the British to help them out in their hour of need, as the book describes 'because we helped them out during World War II, they felt inclined to do so.' It's the EMP blast that sends the USA back to the stone age, theres no TV, no computers and no money. Everyone has been affected by radiation poisoning and will die of cancer soon - but the country soldiers on.

      I really enjoyed Warday - its also a book I had to go and find on Ebay after researching the topic on Wikipedia. Its neatly split into easily readable sections for the casual reader. I got it for 99p off of Ebay, but its well worth tracking down.

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