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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic
I first read Earth Abides as a teenager and was greatly impressed with it then. I have now just read it again at the age of 53 after finding it through Amazon. This is clearly one of the greatest's texts I have read and I don't say that lightly. I was deeply moved as I re-read the chronicling of the passing of an era and the great deep wisdom of Ish, the main...
Published on 18 Mar. 2006 by Steve Paul

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Finishing
Finished reading this today. Having gained an interest in Sci-Fi over the last couple of years, I have read a few of these SF Masterworks.
Earth Abides leaves me with a just a few doubts. I thought it started well and I happily got through the first hundred pages or so. The premise of being left in a world without the society one used to know is interesting.
I...
Published on 10 Dec. 2012 by IanR


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic, 18 Mar. 2006
By 
Steve Paul (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read Earth Abides as a teenager and was greatly impressed with it then. I have now just read it again at the age of 53 after finding it through Amazon. This is clearly one of the greatest's texts I have read and I don't say that lightly. I was deeply moved as I re-read the chronicling of the passing of an era and the great deep wisdom of Ish, the main character. Even more poignant in these difficult days. It has given me great pleasure to to record these words of appreciation. I wonder why it has never been made into a film, but am also pleased as the dignity of the message of this book remains untarnished. If you want to read a profound story on the fragile nature of our civilisation and the great strength of human beings read this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars remarkable meditation on ecology and anthropology, 17 April 2009
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This is a beautifully written, quietly profound book that affected me deeply as I read it and has stuck in my mind ever since. The starting point of the book is a catastrophe that all but wipes out humanity, but the real interest lies in the author's exploration of what happens to nature and to the few humans left behind in a world after human society has disappeared.

Ecological changes as the abandoned cities crumble are beautifully imagined (I was reminded of the recently published (sort-of)non-fiction The World without Us), and would on their own be reason enough to read this book. But it's the exploration of the survivors' slow descent into a more primitive way of life that makes this book so powerful. Ish, the main protagonist, is an academic who believes passionately that the accumulated knowledge of human civilisation must be preserved, and he tries to instil his passion for learning in each new generation of the tribe's children. Of course, each new generation is less interested than the last in the teachings of the 'old world', a world which they have never experienced and are unable to imagine. With no reason for anyone to learn anything that doesn't concern day-to-day survival, literacy and numeracy soon die out. This isn't quite a grim descent into primitivism - new skills and customs, more suited to the changed world, take the place of old ones, and Ish eventually comes to a resigned acceptance that when he dies the old civilisation will die with him.

There is a huge amount here besides - religion, superstition, relationships, politics, language - all are dealt with realistically and in service to the plot. Characters are so well described that you come to believe in the small proto-society of survivors, and feel every loss as they struggle to adjust to inevitable crises and setbacks. The book isn't perfect - much has been made in other reviews here of the convenient lack of corpses and empty roads in the immediate aftermath of the plague - but these are minor points. This is a beautiful elegy to human civilisation and a true literary classic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Special Book, 26 Feb. 2011
By 
Mr. J. P. Robson (St Albans, UK) - See all my reviews
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I first read read this book back in the sixties and was really gripped by it from the first page. Read it, you don't have to be a SF fan to enjoy it since it is a book about people, their strengths and frailties. (I wonder if the writer of the TV series "Survivors" read it, I enjoyed the first version of "Survivors" but could not empathise with the characters the way I can in "Earth Abides.") I often thought about the book over the years but never attempted to find it, last year my youngest daughter found it for me on her Iphone, based on the clues of rattlesnake and hammer. I enjoyed it much more the second time since I had visited many of the places in the US that 'Ish' goes through on his voyage of discovery.
My other reason for remembering the book was how he finds a car on the Bay Bridge and recalls, incorrectly, (the actual name is John S. Robertson), when he is dying, the name on the drivers driving wheel tag as" James Robson with a middle initial that was E,T, or P. Since my name is James P. Robson it tends to stick in the memory! I am surprised that it has never been made into a film though there have been several 'end of the world' efforts. If they ever should, I hope they don't cast some action man like Bruce Willis since 'Ish' is not a go getting hero but an ordinary man who cares and worries about things. Please read it. Jim Robson
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Thought A Swan Dying Was Beautiful, 25 April 2001
By A Customer
I have always enjoyed post-apocalypse stories and approached 'Earth Abides' as another of those, if a somewhat more subtle one. But it is not another one of those. Stewart had an uncanny perception of the natural world and this permeates every page. He describes a seductive, idyllic existence where humans and nature are inseparable. One criticism is that of the 'cosy catastrophe'. The first sixty pages or so are slow, but stick with it because it contains the most moving and heartbreaking death scene in literature ever. It is difficult to believe that it was written a half-century ago, so little has it dated.
This is a quiet book and attracts little attention to itself even within sf. It has yet to receive the wider praise I am sure it will one day attain. If one book ever deserved to escape the constraints of genre fiction and find favour amongst the mainstream this is it. If everyone in the world read it, it is hard to see how the world would not be a better place.
There are downsides though. 'Earth Abides' may well become the bench mark by which every book you read after it will be compared to and your friends will probably get fed up of you talking about it.
Only shut up when they've read it too.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic ..., 3 Mar. 2004
This book must be one of the most memorable SF books I have ever read. Well written and thought provoking. Virtually no science involved, just a cracking story with well drawn characters. Like the best SF, it is well written fiction as well as being highly imaginative.
It will stay in your imagination forever.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best post-apocalyptic fiction ever, 26 July 2012
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Quite simply the best post-apocalyptic fiction, ever. Some say 'A Canticle for Leibowitz' is better, but in my opinion they are wrong. Compared to 'Earth Abides', 'The Road' is dreary. The only problem with Earth Abides is that they should have made a film of it years ago. My only hope is that someone does do the film one day but please don't leave it too long. I read Earth Abides for the first time over 30 years ago and every 5 or 10 years I feel the need to reread it. Some say it is dated but I think not. Unlike a lot of science fiction the 'science' has been lost to humanity and man must continue without it. Because of this simple fact it cannot date. Earth Abides and so does this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle meditation on frailty of civilisation, 19 July 1999
By A Customer
Reading Earth Abides what struck me most was not the story, though this was certainly well told and presented, but how bravely the book took an unusual tack on its chosen topic: the survival factor of our civilisation and man himself when measured against geologic or cosmic time as represented by the planet Earth. Normally we are reasured that the embers of civilisation and man will never go out, and that we will always triumph as a species. Almost every film, book or play impresses this perception upon it's audience. And at first, as Isherwood works to rebuild, it seems Earth Abides will follow the same route. Then things start to change, and the reader begins to feel an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of their stomach; Isherwood's attempts start to fail, and the flickering ember of 20th century civilisation begins to dim. At the last, time takes its own course, and our ability to outlast even our own planet, never mind spread to the Universe as many SF books believe, is brought into question. And it is with this that the book triumphs. We are asked to question our entire society, and its true prospects for survival. One of the few books I've read that made me question the daily trip to the office, not from the point of view of myself, but my entire species, and to wonder what on Earth we are doing to ensure the real future of our species.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth Finishing, 10 Dec. 2012
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Finished reading this today. Having gained an interest in Sci-Fi over the last couple of years, I have read a few of these SF Masterworks.
Earth Abides leaves me with a just a few doubts. I thought it started well and I happily got through the first hundred pages or so. The premise of being left in a world without the society one used to know is interesting.
I suppose by necessity a description of how the whole world was changing was not possible as it set from the perspective of one central character, hence it must focus on that smaller aspect of his world.
This meant that fair portions of narrative focussed around his thoughts of how his Tribe were forming. At times this seemed to drag on a bit and become a bit preachy.
Wierdly, at times I found myself reading on to get the book finished rather than being entirley rivetted, and yet I wasn't bored either!
That said, having finished it I am happy I did. It ends poignantly and shows some small visions of the future nicley. Completing it actually made the whole worth it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound, Captivating, and Relevant, 27 Jun. 2004
Like many of the reviewers here, I have read this book many many times. I first picked it up in high school as required reading. I became so captivated I didn't do any of the summaries or other homework on it because I didn't want to stop reading! I read through the book twice before anyone was done, and failed the class, but I made it up in summer school, giving me the opportunity to read it twice more and finally do the required side work. Anyhow, this book is truly incredible, there is so much vivid detail in so many aspects of civilization, religion, relationships, and old age. I think this book should be required reading for everyone, though my high school seems to have been the only one I've heard of that made it so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well deserved of the title 'classic', 26 Sept. 2008
In many ways this is what Brian Aldiss describes as a `cosy catastrophe'. Isherwood Williams, alone in a US mountain cabin is bitten by a rattlesnake and despite treating himself in time is seriously weakened and lies in a fever for days. Upon recovering he discovers that a plague has swept the world, leaving very few survivors. This novel is the story of the development of a new human tribe around him, but more importantly for Stewart, one feels, the return of the natural world to its mastery over the planet.
The human story, although captivating, is rather too romantic in that Stewart avoids some of the more gruesome consequences of a plague of such proportions. The dead are very notable by their absence. Also, no major medical problems arise as the tribe grows. No-one breaks an arm or a leg (although Ish himself suffers a minor leg injury after being mauled by a mountain lion) and the problems of the appendix or dentistry are glossed over.
The tribe does suffer setbacks and people do die, but from today's perspective, the tribe's rather idyllic existence is not what one would imagine society to be like when one's life is dependent on what can be scavenged, or caught and eaten.
The book's major strength, however, lies in Nature which, surrounding the territory of the tribe, reasserts itself, making the Earth itself an additional and major character in the drama.
Indeed, the strongest elements of the novel - those which hang in the memory longest - are those in which Ish, a self-confessed distanced observer of change and the passage of time, describes the gradual changing of the world such as when as an old man he once more sees the Golden gate bridge, solid but red with rust, its upper sections encrusted with the guano of generations of gulls.
There are also some intermittent passages in which the author, acting as an omnipotent observer, looks at the world - or rather, it has to be said, just America - from a wider perspective, examining the rise and fall of a plethora of species and the rapid enforced evolution of various domestic or agricultural livestock.
As catastrophes go, it's one of the cosiest, but that does not in any way detract from its place as one of the great post-apocalyptic novels of the Twentieth Century.
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Earth Abides
Earth Abides by George Rippey Stewart (Paperback - 28 Mar. 2006)
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