Free Study Guide: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank - Free BookNotes|
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Randy arrives at the base and is sent through to meet his brother. On his way to Base Operations, he notices the changes at the base: there are fewer planes on the runways; there are fewer men on base; civilians and dependents are gone; and there is a general feeling of tension in the air. Randy’s escort, Paul Hart, a squadron commander, tells him about the “interim dispersal” of the aircraft and the quiet evacuation of civilians and non-essential personnel from the base.
Mark arrives. The plane is on its way to SAC headquarters outside Omaha
and is stopping at McCoy to refuel. In the short time Randy has with him,
Mark tells Randy about the travel arrangements for his family. He tells
Randy about events in the Mediterranean and that a defecting Soviet general
revealed the Soviet war plan to the Americans. He gives Randy a check
for $5,000 (a huge sum of money in the 1950s) with instructions to cash
it immediately and buy supplies.
Pat Frank paints a very realistic image of Soviet responses during the Cold War to the fictional events in the Middle East. In the era before either the U.S. or the Soviet Union had the technology to launch intercontinental missiles, regional events such as those depicted in the novel were critical. Russia’s centuries-old dream of a warm-water port was a key component of Soviet military plans during the Cold War and it colored much of our military preparedness, including the selection of allies such as Turkey and Iran (before the fall of the Shah and the rise of the ayatollahs).
Alice’s jousting with Kitty shows that the racist, segregationist, anti-Washington dreams of the Old South were still alive in the 1950s. However, attitudes were beginning to change. Alice, being well read and current on events of the time, was in the vanguard of this change. Kitty, as she is depicted in the novel, probably would not have accepted such a change, but she realizes that it is happening nonetheless. The consequences of a media scandal - the negative impact on her husband’s businesses - shows us that the tide toward integration and social equality was beginning to turn.
The two authors to whom Kitty Offenhaus objected were well-known black writers of the times. Carl Rowan (1925-2000) is primarily remembered as a journalist and a civil rights activist in the 1960s. In the 1950s, he traveled to the South to report on the Supreme Court’s decision requiring desegregation. Walter White (1893-1955) was one of the major writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
As in chapter 1, Pat Frank’s knowledge of geopolitical events and the U.S.
military’s reaction to the events comes out. The events he describes were
realistic and entirely plausible. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union
tried to influence elections in Greece and Italy to secure Communist victories
at the polls. Had those efforts been successful, NATO would have been
outflanked on its southern front, dealing the western alliance a crippling,
if not fatal, blow.
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. 09 May 2017