Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1)

One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1)
One Second After - John Matherson, Bk 1
Author: William R. Forstchen
One man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages ... a war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP).  A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies. — In a Norman Rockwell town in North Carolina, where res...  more »
The Market's bargain prices are even better for Paperbackswap club members!
Retail Price: $27.99
Buy New (Hardcover): $19.69 (save 29%) or
Become a PBS member and pay $15.79+1 PBS book credit Help icon(save 43%)
ISBN-13: 9780765317582
ISBN-10: 0765317583
Publication Date: 3/17/2009
Pages: 352
Edition: 1
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 79 ratings
Publisher: Forge Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Members Wishing: 5
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

Gandalara avatar reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
First time I read anything by this author.

Basically one big cautionary tale with the foreword (Newt Gingrinch), the novel itself, and the afterword (Capt. Bill Sanders) about the possibility of EMP catastrophe and its effects on a North Carolina college town and its residents.

As a (very) long time reader of SF and post-apocalytic tales, I saw lots of cliches. Lots of characters with no common sense or survival sense. I really don't understand why it got so many 5 star reviews on Amazon - there are so many more better written books out there. I should have paid more attention to the review that said, "It read like a novelization of a Lifetime Television disaster-movie-of-the-week."

I would suggest that readers new to this type of books read "Lucifer's Hammer" by Niven and Pournelle, or "The Postman" by Brin, or "Emergence" by Palmer, or even "The Stand" by King.
nantuckerin avatar reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 158 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Before I get into a review, I have to start by saying: this book scared me to death. Thanks, Mr. Forstchen, for giving me something else to worry about late at night.

One Second After is a work of fiction, but the introduction by Newt Gingrich lends a somber air of credibility to the story. This could really happen, folks. And from page 1, the author tries to beat that truth home without dramatics, and with a good, healthy dose of survivalist know-how.

The story chronicles one community's struggle to survive the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse -- a nuclear bomb detonated high over the US soil that renders all modern technology useless in one second. The anonymous foe that provided the first strike is never really identified, adding credence to the atmosphere of not knowing that causes panic nationwide when cell phones, TV, radio, the Internet and all other communication devices are silenced forever.

The narrator, John, is a likeable guy and provides a great perspective of the events. He is a former Army officer, current military history professor, widower and father of two teenage girls. As a parent, his obvious priority is protecting his children, finding them food, securing their home and -- most dread-inducing -- going to whatever lengths necessary to try to keep his 12-year-old diabetic child alive without a reliable supply of insulin and refrigeration.

The book follows the events of the first year after the EMP, as people pull together to plant Victory Gardens to feed the town, fight bands of cannibalistic gangs bent on taking over the community and struggling in the daily fight to stay alive. It is a chilling view of how much we take for granted every single day.

This book made a huge impression on me. I actually had to take a few days to process the story before I could think about starting another story -- that doesn't happen often. Forstchen does a wonderful job of creating characters that the reader will care about, conceiving a surreal natinoal crisis that is all-too-real, and drawing attention to a threat to all of us that is almost to horrible to think about.

As a final note, I hope that this book doesn't fall into terrorist hands. That sounds melodramatic, but seriously. I think that people that hate our nation would read this book cackling with glee and chomping at the bit. (insert shiver here) [close]
blacktoastintolerate avatar reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I'm not really sure exactly I was expecting from this book, but I will say I liked it. It is a very simple book that I read in one day. The writing...let's just say it is what it is, not very good. But the story keeps you hooked and makes you want to keep reading. I don't pretend to know if this EMP scenario is even possible, but it makes for a thought provoking (what if) story. The premise is like King's The Stand or McCarthy's The Road, but the writing and editing is nowhere close to either. I read for entertainment and this book delivered. Right before I went to sleep last night I rolled over and asked my wife, "How long will canned food last in the basement". Makes you think, especially since my wife and daughter are both type 1 diabetics.
sajoyen avatar reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This was a great book to read! I was entertained and horrified at the same time. I wanted to go out and start stockpiling everything I could think of. I stood at my kitchen window one day and looking at my neighborhood, and I wondered which of my neighbors would survive? This book will stay with me for a long time.
reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book wrecked me emotionally, which is not a state of mind I enjoy, but I am still glad I read the book. I am a fan of dystopic fiction, and have read many similar books - but they were similar only in the sense that something catastrophic has happened and the characters need to figure out how to deal with it. I can't say that I've actually read anything like this. I often hear it mentioned in the same breath as Rawles' "Patriots", although "Patriots" has completely different protagonists. While the folks in "Patriots" are uber-prepared and are pretty much there just to document the "here's how you do it" scenario, this book shows the consequences of a complete lack of preparation and a "dude you are SO SCREWED" scenario. There were many times I thought I could not bear to find out what happened next - I couldn't hardly take having to read about the difficult decisions they had to make and the sacrifices they made along the way, and the consequences of inaction/wrong action, and the extremely low survival rate of the characters you grow fond of. Several times I thought I couldn't finish the book - about the time the town leaders had a meeting to decide if they were going to issue an order to shoot all the pet dogs in the town to feed the starving residents - with protests in the meeting similar to "I can't shoot Rags! I've had him since he was a puppy! My kids love him!" - OH MAKE IT STOP! I think I would die before I would choose to survive in the way many of them did. I finished the book because I had to find out if anything got any better. I agree the ending was kind of rushed, but I'm glad to have finished the book and glad I didn't lose heart anywhere in the very difficult middle, or I'd likely never fall asleep dry-eyed again. I agree, this is a very important book with many important topics and great detail on how everything can go really, really wrong. Brace yourself.
Read All 26 Book Reviews of "One Second After John Matherson Bk 1"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

ilovebooksanddogs avatar reviewed One Second After (John Matherson, Bk 1) on + 356 more book reviews
I'm so haunted by this book that I'm not even sure I can write a review of it. While reading it I couldn't get it out of my mind and after finishing it last night I couldn't sleep for worrying.

I will say EVERYONE needs to read this book and know that this can happen right now!
As the book says "it's not a question of if but of when." That said, the writing style threw me off a bit, a lot of sentences seemed to just run together and as another reviewer stated "a bit preachy" also, but I do believe the author is trying to get a message out to the world. This is a real concern that our government should be preparing for. I have always been a stockpiler and I know I am going to get even worse after reading this.
I highly recommend this book!

Book Wiki

John Matherson (Primary Character)
Important Events