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The World Set Free [Paperback]

H. G. Wells
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Mar 2007 1585092916 978-1585092918
This chilling, futuristic novel, written in 1913 and first published the following year, was incredibly prophetic on a major scale. Wells was a genius and visionary, as demonstrated by many of his other works, but this book is clearly one of his best. He predicts nuclear warfare years before research began and describes the chain reactions involved and the resulting radiation. He describes a weapon of enormous destructive power, used from the air that would wipe out everything for miles, and actually used the term "atomic bombs." This book may have been at least part of the original inspiration for the development of atomic weapons, as well as presenting many other ideas that would ultimately come to pass. Some ideas may still be coming, including a one-world government referred to as The World Republic, that will attempt to end all wars.

Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Book Tree (14 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585092916
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585092918
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,903,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Herbert George Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, England, on September 21, 1866. His father was a professional cricketer and sometime shopkeeper, his mother a former lady's maid. Although "Bertie" left school at fourteen to become a draper's apprentice (a life he detested), he later won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science in London, where he studied with the famous Thomas Henry Huxley. He began to sell articles and short stories regularly in 1893.

In 1895, his immediately successful novel rescued him from a life of penury on a schoolteacher's salary. His other "scientific romances" - The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), The First Men in the Moon (1901), and The War in the Air (1908) - won him distinction as the father of science fiction.

Henry James saw in Wells the most gifted writer of the age, but Wells, having coined the phrase "the war that will end war" to describe World War I, became increasingly disillusioned and focused his attention on educating mankind with his bestselling Outline of History (1920) and his later utopian works. Living until 1946, Wells witnessed a world more terrible than any of his imaginative visions, and he bitterly observed: "Reality has taken a leaf from my book and set itself to supercede me."

Product Description

About the Author

Herbert George "H. G." Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games. Wells is called "The Father of Science Fiction". His most notable science fiction works include ‘The War of the Worlds’, ‘The Time Machine’, ‘The Invisible Man’ and ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The problem which was already being mooted by such scientific men as Ramsay, Rutherford, and Soddy, in the very beginning of the twentieth century, the problem of inducing radio-activity in the heavier elements and so tapping the internal energy of atoms, was solved by a wonderful combination of induction, intuition, and luck by Holsten so soon as the year 1933. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For Historians of the Period 1 Sep 2009
By Mr. Ross Maynard VINE VOICE
Published in 1913, "The World Set Free" is Wells' attempt to forecast the future of the twentieth century in the form of a story and, thereby, begin to set out his early political views. He predicts a devastating nuclear war and the rise of a World Republic. His portrayal of the build up to the war, and the immediate aftermath is compelling, but after that the story gets bogged down in his views on the world state. Run by "the great and the good" this world state has little room for democracy. Farms are collectivised and private property abolished. It's a kind of communism, and we know now that communism is a disaster. At the time, however, this was probably a prophetic and influential book and, therefore, worth studying by historians trying to understand the feeling of the time. It is probably best not read as a novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From the Bomb to the new order 9 Jun 2010
Wells still bears a reputation as a prophet and this book sees him score a few remarkable bull's-eyes with a depiction of atomic warfare first published in 1914. Wells coined the phrase 'atomic bomb' in this book, and nuclear pioneers like Fermi read Wells and feared that what he imagined would come true. And of course it did - more or less. The atomic bomb Wells imagined isn't quite like the reality but it involves explosions of ferocious energy that render their target-sites uninhabitable for months or years afterwards. Wells got his atomic chemistry (as it was then called) from Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy, and his extrapolations were pretty much scientifically sound at the time.
'The World Set Free' Part One describes the discovery of a new power-source based on atomic disintegration and the ushering-in of a seemingly boundless new age of cheap energy and prosperity. Unfortunately the new energy-source can be adapted to yield bombs and a catastrophic war follows. Part Two describes the world rebuilt after the war. Part One is a late flowering of the apocalyptic Wells of 'The War of the Worlds' or 'The War in the Air', and still makes fairly good reading. Alas, Part Two is another of Wells' thinly-disguised pamphlets about the need for a scientifically-organised World State. Too much of Part Two is devoted to technocrats explaining how they took over the management of the world from the misguided masses. (Subsequent history has made us a bit less enthusiastic about technical elites telling us what to do ...) So alas, one of Wells' most successful bits of scientific prophecy is joined to one of his more didactic rants.
Karel Capek's novel 'The Absolute At Large' made a similarly striking prophecy of the atomic age but embedded it in much better fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fine 31 Oct 2013
By steve
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a great book ahead of its time its just what i wanted for my phd, fine reading.i will order some similar works soon.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
189 of 195 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atomic Theory, the book it all started from. 24 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
In this book, Wells describes nuclear warfare and begins the descriptions of a possible future. He named uranium, "Carolinum" and talked about a chain reaction that would leave radiation behind so that nothing would survive afterwards, even if they did escape from the weapon itself. Dr. Szilard, the man who came up with the idea of splitting the atom with a nuetron, did so after reading, "The World Set Free". I say, NO KIDDING! Wells lays the idea right out in front of the world's face, laughing! It then goes on to describe future events that have occured, though in different times, and some which have yet to occur. He spoke of Carolinum (uranium), the atomic theory and its increadible source of power. He spoke of robotics and computers replacing people in the work place. This is where it all started folks. AND THIS IS JUST IN THE FIRST 100 PAGES! Trust me... it gets better :) If you wish yo know more on the theory and the bombs' construction, I refer you to Richard Rhodes. If you want to know the mind and the story that began this whole deal, read this book!!!!
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man Ahead of His Time 2 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
H. G. Wells is not usually given enough credit for this particular book (in my opinion, his best). The focus is usually upon one of his other works such as The Time Machine. The World set Free is truly staggering in its scope, scale, and vision of the future. It is interesting to note how much Wells got correct about the future, and to see how much he did not. The fact that this book was written before World War I indicates his genius at seeing what might be possible and how this might come about. I cannot recommend this book more highly than by saying AN EXCELLENT, FASCINATING, GRIPPING PAGE-TURNER. A quick point about the original year of publication - if my memory is correct, it was originally published in 1910, rather than 1914.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE WORLD SET FREE by H. G. Wells 25 Oct 2010
By thepaxdomini - Published on Amazon.com
The World Set Free (recently reissued as The Last War) is a 1914 science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. When atomic bombs are developed and the world is threatened with universal devastation, its leaders are forced to rethink war, government, and society.

The World Set Free is remarkably prophetic, as Wells forecasts both nuclear war and the capacity for mutually-assured destruction. And while Wells misses the mark on the way atomic bombs work (his atomic bombs have the same explosive power as conventional bombs, but they just keep on burning), he certainly doesn't underestimate their destructive power.

This book feels like a novel only in the sense that it relates a series of fictional events. What few individuals appear here are scarcely characters in the literary sense - other than Egbert, none are developed in the slightest. This simply wasn't what Wells is trying to do - Wells is interested in the technology and its ramifications, and because that's what he focuses on, The World Set Free reads like a fictional history book, or perhaps like an outline for a longer novel. This keeps it from ever getting too interesting, and while it's a short book, it can be hard to get through.

In short, The World Set Free is an impressively-imagined but not very well-written piece of prophetic science fiction.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Wells' greatest, first use of words "atomic bomb" 28 Sep 1997
By john@informed.co.nz - Published on Amazon.com
Ths work written in 1914 is not one of Wells' great works, but is of interest because it is
reputedly the first use of the words "atomic
bomb", and recognises the dangers of warfare
with a weapon of enormous destructive power
delivered from the air. It is remarkably prescient
in the light of the date of writing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read! 9 Mar 2011
By BG - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent read far ahead of its time. It is both eerie and amazing to think of the gravity of social issues portrayed in context of the timeframe in which the book was written. It should be a required classroom read for high school students.
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