One Second After

EMPby Jon N. Hall    3/28/14
Back in July, I wrote an article that examined the post-apocalyptic genre in fiction and in film. In that piece, I committed (at least) one sin in that I mentioned a book that I had not read. Having just corrected that failing, I’m here to tell you that everyone in America should read William R. Forstchen’s novel One Second After.

Forstchen’s novel takes place in post-9/11 America. And into that very real America, he introduces “the event” — an electromagnetic pulse attack. EMP is not science fiction; it’s been known about for decades. The Sun emits EMPs in solar flares, which have caused power blackouts.

An EMP attack involves detonating nuclear bombs high up in the atmosphere. With an EMP attack there is no radioactive fallout, nor bombed-out cities. But what a successful EMP attack would do is knock out our entire electric grid and fry all our electronic devices. An EMP attack would turn the lights out across America.

One Second After follows one community, the real town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, for one year after a devastating EMP attack. The town is left like all towns in America: utterly cut off from the outside. That’s because an EMP attack would not only destroy the electrical grid and everything attached to it, the electrical systems of all vehicles built in the last few decades would also be destroyed. The only vehicles that would work would be antiques, such as Edsels and VW bugs. So the teeming millions in our cities would either be stuck, or have to walk out.[pullquote]An EMP attack involves detonating nuclear bombs high up in the atmosphere. With an EMP attack there is no radioactive fallout, nor bombed-out cities. But what a successful EMP attack would do is knock out our entire electric grid and fry all our electronic devices.[/pullquote]

Beyond transportation and communication, the novel also looks at all the other systems that depend on electricity, like food and medicine. Diabetics, for instance, whose insulin must be kept cool, would not be long for this world. One of the more disturbing scenes occurs soon after the attack when the central character visits the local nursing home and finds it in total chaos. The food situation soon becomes dire and the town declares martial law. (Disabuse yourself of the idea that you’d be able to live off the land; in a nation of more than 300 million, game would quickly disappear.)

But the novel is not just about the logistics of an America without power; Forstchen peoples his book with powerful characters. The central character is an ex-military professor of history at the local college, John Matherson. Matherson becomes the leader of the town and its savior, (insofar as there can be any saving in a post-EMP America). Because we have a history prof as a protagonist, we’re made to a look at how other great nations and empires came to their ends. We’re even treated (on page 212 of the hardback) to a look at the Battle of Leignitz in 1241 in which the overconfident Germans encountered the invading Mongol horde. (Pride goeth before a fall.)

Like Leignitz, our novel also has a pitched battle, and there’s plenty of action and even a bit of a love story. But what the novel is really about is one possible end for America. Americans need to be reminded that we could lose everything. Notions that “it can’t happen here” are beyond foolish. A few undersized punks armed with box cutters changed America forever. But armed with nuclear devices, those insane radicals could make 9/11 seem like the good old days. The last chapter in the novel takes place exactly 365 days after the attack. It is a powerful ending, and it will take you all over the emotional map — joy, despair, anger, shame.

To reach more folks, Forstchen’s novel really should be made into a movie. But just as with Cormac McCarthy’s bleak post-apocalyptic novel The Road, it would be difficult to film. One of the problems with the film of McCarthy’s excellent book is that the boy just wasn’t emaciated enough. (Viggo Mortensen did, however, starve himself nicely.) But for One Second After, one would need to cast an entire town’s worth of anorexics.

Do we have the leadership in Washington to protect us from an EMP attack? After all, the feds couldn’t (or wouldn’t) protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens from al-Qaeda terrorists. The feds certainly didn’t protect Bostonians from the Tsarnaev brothers. The U.S. Army couldn’t even protect their own soldiers from a jihadist massacre at Fort Hood by army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, one of their own. Which prompted Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. to opine: “And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.”

The current regime in Washington doesn’t understand that there are untold millions of implacable Muslims who would rather see this world incinerated than for faraway people to worship as they see fit or for a single infidel woman’s face to be uncovered. Even though the Muslim world is on fire, and Iran is closer to having the bomb than we had thought, some still cling to the belief that Barack Hussein Obama, in all his transcendent wonderfulness, can reason with these people. (I feel safer already.)

Besides our electric power system, America’s other infrastructure is also vulnerable to disruption. But an EMP attack has the potential to destroy America. We need to quit worrying about “diversity” and get serious about survival.

LINKS: My tardiness in reading Forstchen’s 2009 novel may have been due to not having read anything by the author. But One Second After achieves real power, and is a genuine page-turner besides. Watch this short video of Forstchen on Fox News where he refers to an EMP attack as a “nation-wide Katrina event.” Also watch this video of former Speaker Gingrich, who wrote the novel’s foreword. For more info on EMP, visit the novel’s official website, which has several terrific links to check out. But to really get motivated, I recommend that you start by reading the novel. You can order One Second After at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (1991 views)

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11 Responses to One Second After

  1. Rosalys says:

    “Do we have the leadership in Washington to protect us from an EMP attack? After all, the feds couldn’t (or wouldn’t) protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens from al-Qaeda terrorists. The feds certainly didn’t protect Bostonians from the Tsarnaev brothers. The U.S. Army couldn’t even protect their own soldiers from a jihadist massacre at Fort Hood by army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, one of their own.”

    Well the leadership certainly isn’t there. As for “We couldn’t…”, “We couldn’t…”, “We couldn’t…”, it’s because we are now a nation of wussified, politically correct zombies (as exemplified by Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr.) – and what that boils down to is we wouldn’t! There is a solution to these problems, but it requires “men with chests” to actually do something. I think there still are those men out there.

    I read this book last year and it is fantastic! It is also scary! It also makes the case for living in a rural community which has a few good men living there who believe in the rule of law and who would step in to become leaders. That’s not a guarantee.

    You can prep all you want but be advised that there are other sorts of preppers out there like this one guy who said he was only stocking up on ammo. Why? To protect his family and what he has? No! “I’ll just take what I need!”

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Other than being able to blackmail Israel or kill whatever brand of Muslim that Iran is not (I forget if they are Shiite or Suni…as if it matters what brand of poison), I would expect that the drive for the bomb is for Iran to enact its apocalyptic vision. It’s my understanding that it takes a fusion bomb, not a fission bomb, to generate an EMP pulse. But surely that is what Iran is working toward. They really do want to bring down the “Great Satan.”

    And apparently you could do that with just one bomb. The only possible justification for the NSA doing the snooping that it is doing is to protect us from just such an occurrence. But as we see with Obamacare (Rush read a great article on the radio yesterday), the point of the systems put into place by the Left are to destroy us from within.

    You can find the transcript of Rush’s monologue here. He read a letter written by Dr. Marlin Gill what was sent to Representative Mo Brooks. The long of the short of it is that Obamacare isn’t about buying insurance (something you will find difficult to actually do). Its purpose is to redistribute wealth from the productive classes to the unproductive classes. Remember: Our president isn’t a president. He’s just a glorified community organizer. Oh, I do hope all the Red Diaper Doper Babies (and their offspring) wake up.

    So who will kill us first, the stupid people who keep falling for the promises of these “Progressive” utopian destructive nitwits or the Iranians? My bet is on the low-information voters.

    Additional: Rush also read Ann Coulter’s article about Obamacare. Here’s the money quote:

    The main point of the Obamacare website is to encourage people other than me to get a government subsidy. There’s also a section helping you register to vote. You just can’t see the insurance plans. (Guess which one you need a government ID for?)

    With zero help from the Obamacare website, I eventually figured out that there was one lone insurance plan that would cover treatment at a reputable hospital. The downside is, no doctors take it.

    So my only two health insurance options — and yours, too, as soon as the waivers expire, America! — are: (1) a plan that no doctors take; or (2) a plan that no hospitals take. You either pay for all your doctor visits and tests yourself, or you pay for your cancer treatment yourself. And you pay through the nose in either case.

    That’s not insurance! It’s a huge transfer of wealth from people who work for a living to those who don’t, accomplished by forcing the workers to buy insurance that’s not insurance. Obamacare has made actual health insurance “illegal.”

    It’s not “insurance” when what I want to insure against isn’t covered, but paying for other people’s health care needs — defined broadly — is mandatory.

    In many ways, Obamacare is the EMP bomb of our community organizer president and his party of totalitarian fiends.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    As a long-time Forstchen fan, I naturally read this several years ago and reviewed it in FOSFAX 216. (He used to be an occasional FOSFA guest speaker back when he was studying under Gunther Rothenberg at Purdue.) It’s his best book (at least so far), though he does have many other good ones (including his historical novels co-authored by Newt Gingrich). I will add that Forstchen is a military history professor at the same college he uses in the book, so that much of the protagonist’s bio was quite familiar (as was the primary setting).

    A minor correction; the Silesian city (and battlefield) was Liegnitz (today known as Legnica after Poland took over in 1945).

  4. steve lancaster says:

    Back in the Cold War days we had a plan called, Single Integrated Operations Plan, or SIOP and now called, OPLAN 8010, Strategic Deterrence and Global Strike. In general the plan calls on military leaders, intelligence and political officials to agree that a hostile nation is spinning up their weapons for a first strike directed at the US. During the Cold War this included Western Europe, Canada and Mexico. The plan calls for agreement at the top levels that a nuclear strike is imminent. Once intelligence agencies, like the NSA, DIA and CIA agree on the assessment the military is ordered to conduct a first strike to eliminate the threat. I doubt that OPLAN 8010 is significantly different from the SIOP of the 70’s. We have sufficient human and electronic capabilities to detect and neutralize any nation’s ability to create an EMP burst in space. There will be no nuclear Pearl Harbor’s, even with Obama surrendering in the White House. The SIOP gives a great deal of flexibility to theater commanders.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      We have sufficient human and electronic capabilities to detect and neutralize any nation’s ability to create an EMP burst in space.

      I certainly hope so. But it seems unlikely given that this is not something you can regularly test. You have a defense structure in place that works only in theory.

      It is my opinion that Islam has, and will always be, a force of barbarity and regression in the world. And if mankind goes backwards, it’s likely that all of the “Postman” post-apocalyptic movies have it wrong. It wasn’t a massive nuclear exchange or biological weapons that did us in, nor was it the raising of the oceans via “global warming.” It wasn’t even a rogue comet or massive solar eruption. It was the fascist “religion” of Islam which has been at war with the world since its inception (they killed millions in India), and was, in fact, founded upon warring upon others.

      The only question is whether or not Europe, Russia, China, or the United States is hit first. Think about it. You would almost instantly have an Islamic paradise in a land which was suddenly thrust back to the 7th century without any electronic technology.

      I think it will be Europe first.

      • steve lancaster says:

        Europe is on a demographic death spiral and is just waiting for death in the most comfortable method possible. I doubt that there is anything the US can do other than make them as safe as possible without endangering ourselves. By the middle of this century the populations of France, Spain and Italy will be halved and replaced by Islamists, not a positive in my view.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s right, Steve. They have the “demographic bomb” exploding (imploding?) even now, but in slow motion.

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    One thing to point out here is that in addition to the EMP threat, there’s the danger of a physical attack on infrastructure, such as transformers and power stations, which can take a long time to repair (particularly if enough damage has been done to shut down the factories that make the needed parts — or a foreign exporter refuses to ship them). I gather that it took months to repair the California facility knocked out last year, but fortunately there was enough spare capacity to make up for it. But if you damage enough facilities, you can get a serious blackout — and one that lasts a long time. Probably not quite as bad as an EMP attack, but bad enough. Civilization is a lot more vulnerability than people want to admit. (This in fact was the point Pat Frank was making when he wrote the classic post-apocalypse novel Alas, Babylon.)

  6. steve lancaster says:

    Are we more vulnerable than we should be? Yes, I believe we are. However, we are not as vulnerable as our enemies think we are. A duality that puzzles our enemies.

    We have the capacity to recover from almost any event and have life return to generally normal conditions fairly quickly. It takes a major disaster like Katrina or 911 to disrupt the entire country and in the case of Katrina the disruption was limited to the Gulf states, and don’t forget that financial markets were back in operation the following Monday after 911. Our enemies in Tehran, Beijing, Moscow and Pyongyang thought it would take weeks if not months.

    Ask the Japanese and Germans how beneficial it is to pull the dragon’s tail too often. A lesson the Islamic world has yet to learn. We and they should hope it is learned without a demonstration, as no president would survive impeachment should he refuse to act after any kind of massive EMP or nuclear attack. Forget about fail-safe and all the other feel good non-nuclear talky-feely concepts.

    All the George Bush derangement folks fail to realize that he had every reason to turn Afghanistan into a smoking parking lot on 912. Our political forefathers the Roman Empire would not have hesitated.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Note that in One Second After, the enemy who attacked the US gets it back even worse (which also happens in Frank’s more standard Alas, Babylon). But nice as that is, it doesn’t do much good for the massive number of dead.

  7. Timothy Lane says:

    The March Imprimis came today, and it had an article on defense policy from a speech there by Brian T. Kennedy. One major topic was the San Jose attack (April 16 last year) — a carefully-conducted commando attack whose perpetrators have never been identified that knocked out the station for several months. Kennedy thinks we should do a better job of protecting transformers, power stations, and other key facilities. But he also discussed the implications of either an EMP attack or (probably less damaging) a severe solar storm. His projections (including the fact that the US could only support about 10% of its population if the power system is completely knocked out) are similar to Forstchen’s. (One defense he brings up is a ballistic missile defense, which will have to await a new president because Feckless Leader is dogmatically opposed to it.)

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