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The Last Ship by William Brinkley

The Last Ship (1988)

by William Brinkley

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The Last Ship was a great book of the post-apocalypse. ( )
  Foghorn-Leghorn | Jun 5, 2016 |
The Last Ship by William Brinkley is a post-nuclear-apocalyptic novel which focuses on the survival of the crew of the destroyer Nathan James. Although, surprisingly, the actual actions of the crew are secondary to the incessant, introspective, ponderous narrative by the ship's captain. Many of the captain's reflections concern how much more wonderful sailors are, in every respect, when compared to other people. I guess it's good sailors are, perhaps, the only known survivors, huh? Someone did need a good editor for The Last Ship. I concur with the sentiments expressed by Publishers Weekly: "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 a length - more than 500 pages." Or, more precisely for my copy, 616 pages - of small type.

It soon became clear that the key for reading The Last Ship was not to savor every word (as one does when reading a truly great author, where it is clear that every word was carefully chosen), but to quickly skim over many sections of the captain's verbosity, while looking for some forward movement of the plot. Oh, and the captain repeats information too - just in case you missed something. (Kudos to the great vocabulary, even though at times reading it felt like I was at a cocktail party stuck listening to some pretentious jerk talking just to show off. See the last quote, chosen because it was actually a typical sentence.) There was also a rather graphic sex scene late in the novel that felt like an unnecessary addition and was totally out of place. Actually, trying for no spoilers here, the arrangement with the women was totally unrealistic. It would have behooved Brinkley to, perhaps, talk with some real women about it rather than relying on his imagination.

Although this is asking a lot of a reader, set the writing aside and the actual plot is decent. We don't get enough information about what started the war, but the premise that only one ship has survived is intriguing. The dilemma is in whether or not I would recommend this book to others. You might enjoy The Last Ship if you like post-apocalyptic fiction and at the same time are not intimidated by an author's excessive use of a large vocabulary (not always correctly used), and pages of complicated sentences.
Recommended for the plot, so-so for the author's writing ( )
1 vote SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
On the Beach by Shute was a much better treatment of this theme. Here we have a nuclear end of the world with the survivors being an American Destroyer and a Russian sub. They search for Eden and find it in the South Pacific and then it is blown up for inane reasons. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
Great read. Easy pace as the story builds. Could happen is a crazy world like ours. ( )
  trek520 | Dec 7, 2015 |
Although Brinkley's writing style is formal (and positively terrifying in its convolutions and uncommon verbiage), the story is fascinating. Set just after woman were allowed aboard Navy cruisers and an end-of-the-world event, it is an interesting comparison to the television series based on it. In the show, women are so integrated into the crew that gender is rarely an issue, while in the novel, it is a major, major issue. Having a plague to deal with rather than the novel's nuclear fallout changes the dynamics as well. That said, the novel was fun--but warning! It is a long, long read to the last line. ( )
1 vote Prop2gether | Nov 4, 2015 |
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"A friend may well be reckoned the Masterpiece of nature" -- Emerson
For Gordon Kingsley
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In bravura beauty, no ship has ever come off a Navy ways to be compared with the destroyer and she was a fine example of a noble breed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345359828, Paperback)

The unimaginable horror of total nuclear war has been let loose upon the world, and only one ship, the Nathan James, with 152 men and 26 women aboard, has survived. Her captain narrates the electryfing story of this crew's voyage through the hell of nuclear winter, their search for survivial, and the fate of mankind when they find an uncontaminated paradise.
"Beautifully written...A magnificent book."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

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?… (more)

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Average: (3.47)
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