Red Alert (novel)

Red Alert (novel)

infobox Book |
name = Red Alert
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Peter George
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Nuclear war
publisher =
media_type =
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0795301227
ISBN 1596542616
release_date = 1958
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Red Alert" is a 1958 novel by Peter George about nuclear war. The book was the basis for Stanley Kubrick's film, "". It differs significantly from Kubrick's movie in that it is not a comedy.

Originally published in the UK as "Two Hours to Doom" -- with George using the pseudonym "Peter Bryant" -- the novel deals with the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war and the almost absurd ease with which it can be triggered. A genre of such topical fiction sprang up in the late 1950s -- led by Nevil Shute's "On the Beach" -- of which "Red Alert" was among the earliest examples.

Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler's later bestseller "Fail-Safe" so closely resembled "Red Alert" in its premise that George sued on the charge of plagiarism, resulting in an out-of-court settlement. Both novels would inspire very different films that would both be released in 1964 by the same studio (Columbia Pictures).

Plot summary

A dying Air Force general commanding the Sonora, Texas Strategic Air Command bomber base, and suffering from the paranoid delusion that he will make the world a better place, has set in motion a catastrophic nuclear air attack on the Soviet Union. He orders the 843rd bomber wing to attack under the provisions of "Wing Attack Plan R", a war plan that was intended to allow lower-echelon SAC commanders to order a retaliatory strike if the United States government had been decapitated by a first strike. The attack consists of his entire B-52 bomber wing, composed of new planes, each armed with two very large nuclear weapons and a sophisticated system of electronic countermeasures designed to prevent the Soviets from shooting down these planes.

Once they realize that the attack is underway, the President of the United States and his military advisors frantically try to stop it. They assist the Soviet defense forces in intercepting the bombers, but to little effect, with the Soviets destroying only two bombers and leaving one, "Alabama Angel" damaged but otherwise unaccounted for.

An American attempt to re-establish proper chain-of-command over the SAC base succeeds, but the general who initiated the attack (and who is the only person available to provide the recall code letters) commits suicide before he can be captured and interrogated. His executive officer, however, correctly decodes the general's doodles on a deskpad, intuiting the likely letters of the recall code.

The recall code is issued and all surviving planes in the bomb wing save one are successfully recalled minutes before they can drop their bomb. On "Alabama Angel" however, earlier damage to the radio equipment prevents their reception of the recall code and they continue with their mission.

In a last ditch effort to prevent all out nuclear war, the president tells the Soviet leader that they may launch an attack on a U.S. city in retaliation. Atlantic City is chosen as the target. At the last minute, however, "Alabama Angel" is shot down, and catastrophe is averted.

ee also


Publication information

George, Peter. "Strangelove, or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb". Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1988, c1963.

External links

* ISBN 0795301227 191 pages
* ISBN 1596542616 160 pages

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