Hailed as “an extraordinary novel of men at war” (The Washington Post) this is the book that inspired the TNT television series starring Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin and Michael Bay as Executive Producer.
The unimaginable has happened. The world has been plunged into all-out nuclear war. Sailing near the Arctic Circle, the U.S.S. Nathan James is relatively unscathed, but the future is grim and Captain Thomas is facing mutiny from the tattered remnants of his crew. With civilization in ruins, he urges those that remain—one-hundred-and-fifty-two men and twenty-six women—to pull together in search of land. Once they reach safety, however, the men and women on board realize that they are earth’s last remaining survivors—and they’ve all been exposed to radiation. When none of the women seems able to conceive, fear sets in. Will this be the end of humankind?
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this apocalyptic novel of the sea is that Brinkley has been able to spin so slender a plot to so great lengthmore than 500 pages. Global nuclear disaster has struck, and the guided-missile destroyer Nathan James, short on food and fuel, its crew of men and women seriously depleted by desertions, sails the seas in search of an uncontaminated landfall. The Nathan James is apparently the only ship afloatuntil it meets a Russian sub and a little belated glasnost is arranged. The destroyer's captain, a man given to Conradesque reflections more often ponderous than illuminating, describes how he struggles to assert his authority and maintain crew morale, how he establishes a settlement on an unpolluted Pacific island, assigning to his female crew the task of ensuring the continuation of the human race (he has a steamy affair with one of them himself) and how he handles, among other problems, a case of multiple murder. Brinkley (Don't Go Near the Water, Quicksand) clearly knows the U.S. Navy, and his narrative has its moments. However, his style here is turgid and the story as a whole, unlike the sleek and deadly Nathan James, sits pretty heavily in the water.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A Novel Worthy of Joseph Conrad
Skip the ridiculous TNT series and read this book instead! I read it not long after its initial publishing, and it immediately became my favorite modern novel, of any genre, period. Before you go further, here is my perspective: my favorite author is Joseph Conrad. This book is a worthy successor to Conrad's nautical literature. If you are looking for a quick read, look elsewhere. Yes, I admit to having to look up a word every few pages--though in every case, the usage was not gratuitous, and the rarified vocabulary always seems to enhance the narrative (as well as improve my own vocabulary quite a bit). Yet in addition to the lyrical, rich prose, there are layers of meaning, including of military and technological authenticity, that are remarkable, though since it was written in the late 1980's, it's admittedly slightly dated--but only slightly. I am also a student of naval warfare and weapons systems; this book doesn't strike one wrong note there, nor in Naval customs, language, protocols and etiquette. That is one layer of many. Astonished that TNT would even know of this work, let alone turn it into a TV series, I was moved to re-read it before the series aired, certain that TNT would make a hash out of it (unfortunately I was all too correct; the TV series is an unintentionally hilarious stinker). I must say, reading most of the other reviews of this masterpiece really puts me in touch with the consistent decline in SAT verbal scores. It is a pathetic commentary that speaks for itself. Let's just say, if you like Joseph Conrad, I'm pretty sure you will like this novel. Sadly the author, who had been a World War II Naval officer, died not long after this book was published, at the peak of his writing powers--of suicide. Perhaps he could see where modern readers' tastes were headed. . .But having just finished my second read of the novel after a two decade interregnum, I mourn the absence of sequel.
This author just gave me a headache.
I am an avid reader and have been so since I was a child. I generally enjoy almost any kind of fiction.
That said, I do not enjoy someone who impulsively cannot get on with story for being so fond of listening to themselves while boring the reader to death with overdone descriptions.
After several hundred pages, I decided to see what other readers were thinking about this book. I was not surprised to see they were thinking right along the same lines as I concerning the overdone verbals but I was angered to see they were saying the author left the story hanging and very unfinished. Quite honestly, I am not finishing this book now.
The Last Ship
Totally different story from the current TV series. Though more than a bit wordy in detailed descriptive manner, the story itself is fascinating. Geography, naval knowledge, religion, human psyche, all serve to make this a captivating book.