One Second After by Willian Forstchen


What does a typical start to your day look like?  Maybe you wake up to an alarm clock, or at least look at a clock when you wake up.  You might make coffee, cook breakfast, check your email, shower, blow dry and style your hair, turn on the radio, or your IPOD while you start your day and eventually get in your car and go – to work, to run errands, make a call on your cell phone., stop and get a coffee at your favorite coffee shop…

Now.  What if everything that required electricity no longer worked?  What if something called an Electric Magnetic Pulse (EMP), something like a nuclear bomb that hits the earth’s atmosphere and wipes out the magnetic field that covers the earth and all things that require electricity (or have electrical parts like our vehicles) come to a stop.

For months.  Maybe years.

We can no longer run water through an electric pump.  Keep our food cold in refrigerators.  Make a pot of coffee, cook our food on a stove, watch tv or use our computers to get a report of what is going on…the elderly in Nursing homes no longer have working monitors, electric wheel chairs do not work, pace makers… Fire trucks, Police cars, don’t move.  You can’t call a friend to see what happened, you can’t watch tv or listen to a radio.

There would be a panic and a rush on grocery stores – but it is cash only as credit cards can not be run.  (Do you have a large amount of cash on you?) Pharmacy’s are over taken as the panic sets in no one bothers paying anymore, it is now looting and survival of the fittest.

as time goes on and food becomes scarce, the family pet suddenly may be needed to feed your family…

freaked out yet?

In One Second After, this is exactly what happens.  John Matherson lives a small quiet life in North Carolina, has two daughters and is a teacher at the local college.  His wife had passed away a few years earlier.  When everything shuts down, cars abandoned on the interstate, planes drop out of the sky, people leave their posts at their jobs; John knows something big has happened and he has to protect his family.  When the town leaders realize that an electric pulse has hit the United States, John makes a list of what they need to survive.  With one daughter who is a diabetic insulin is a must to find.

As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, people turn on each other for survival.  Students are recruited to protect the town as waves of people try to get in, homes are guarded with loaded rifles and it becomes common to hear that someone was shot and killed as they tried to steal from a neighbor. 

The mechanism for a 400 km high altitude burst EMP: gamma rays hit the atmosphere between 20–40 km altitude, ejecting electrons which are then deflected sideways by the Earth’s magnetic field. This makes the electrons radiate EMP over a massive area. Because of the curvature and downward tilt of Earth’s magnetic field over the USA, the maximum EMP occurs south of the detonation and the minimum occurs to the north. – Wikepedia

This book was brought to my attention by a friend over a year ago.  I found the topic frightening and fascinating and while listening to this book on audio I found it really was both frightening and fascinating.  Joe Barrett does a wonderful job narrating this one. 

I think what is most frightening about this book is that this could actually happen.  As I look around my house and think how much I count on the lights to work, the electric pump to bring heat into my home this time of year, my cell phone to work, the faucet to provide water for my coffee, tea, cooking – and Lord knows I do love my lap top time…..

what if all that came to a screeching halt?  Scratch that… not even screeching… a silent stop.

Think about how much as a society we have come to rely on things to work by the slip of a switch, a push of a button or a flip of a handle. 

While I admit, sometimes I think that the world was probably a better place before we had such access to one another, while I do love the conveniences of going to Facebook and seeing what happening with friends and family, we sure have become a society of being in each others business…. and sharing info, shoot… I am as big of a social network junky as many!  But what if we were sent back 50 – 100 years back to when you heated your homes with wood, everyone had gardens to provide food and raised animals for meat.  While yes, a lot of work for sure, when people were busy working together as a family – was that a better way?

I am just thinking here because that is something this book will make you do… think.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and highly recommend this book. 


For more audio reviews, check out Jen’s Sound Bites at Devourer Of Books.

8 thoughts on “One Second After by Willian Forstchen

  1. I really enjoyed this story too when I listened to it last year. Just went to look and altho it was in my Monday posts it looks like I may have never done the review. It does make you think!

  2. I really want to read this! It sounds just the plot of the TV show Revolution – have you seen it? One of the season’s best new shows. What is most disturbing to me is the violence that results, but my sons and husband keep telling me that;s what would really happen! It sounds like this author has the same thoughts.

    I’m adding this one to me TBR list – thanks!


Hmmmm... what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s