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Without Warning
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Product Description

In Kuwait, American forces are stacked up, locked and loaded for the invasion of Iraq. In Paris, a covert agent, a woman who inhabits a twilight of lies and death, is close to cracking a terrorist cell. And just north of the equator, a forty-foot wood-hulled sailboat, manned by a drug runner, a pirate, and two gun-slinging beauties, is witness to the unspeakable. In one instant, all around the world, for politicians and peasants, from Gaza to Geneva, things will never be the same. A wave of inexplicable energy has slammed into the continental United States.

America, as we know it, is gone. . . .


Now U.S. soldiers are fighting a war without command or control. A correspondent records horrors for no one. Washington is gone and the line of succession is in tatters; the functioning remnants of government are in Pearl Harbor, Guant¨¢namo Bay, and one desperate, isolated corner of the Northwest. For the jihadists, it¡¯s Allah¡¯s miracle. For Saddam, it¡¯s a chance to attack. Iran declares war on an America that doesn¡¯t exist¨Cexcept in the hearts and souls of the men and women who want it to.

In this astounding work of alternate fiction, John Birmingham hurtles us into a scenario that is unimaginable but shatteringly real: a world of financial ruin where a cloud of noxious waste¨Cfrom America¡¯s burning cities¨Cdarkens Europe, while men and women in offices around the globe struggle to make decisions that cannot hold and opportunists unleash their secret demons.

From a slick Texas lawyer who happens to be in the right place at the right time to a hard-working city engineer in Seattle who becomes his terrified city¡¯s only hope, from the cancer-stricken secret agent to a drug runner off the Mexican coast and a U.S. general in Cuba, Without Warning tells a fast, furious story of survival, violence, and a new, soul-shattering reality. The first in an epic trilogy that will leave readers breathless and astounded, Without Warning offers a world without its policeman, its Great Satan, or its savior¨Cas an unknowable future struggles to be born.

Customer Reviews:

  • Left me wanting a bit more...
    John Birmingham has himself an interesting little premise. Rumor has it, one day while in Australia he overheard someone remark that the world would be a better place if the U.S. fell off the face of it. And that's basically where Without Warning starts. It's March 2003 and the U.S. is on the cusp of invading Iraq, when suddenly a strange energy field appears over most of the Continental U.S., vaporizing anything living within it. The only Americans to survive are those in the northwest corner around Seattle, plus those in Hawaii, Alaska, and anyone overseas--many of whom are military stationed in the Mid East for the impending war. So, America has fallen off the face of the earth--and now the world must really deal with what that means, economically, politically and socially.

    As I said, Birmingham has a very interesting premise. The strongest parts of his book were when he was really dealing with the repercussions of "The Disappearance"--how some Mid East countries close in on Israel and spark a small nuclear war, the political and religious riots in France and England, Venezuela making its move as a new power in South America. I wanted more about food riots, martial law, anarchy, who would fight who and side with who. I wanted to know what happened to Africa, China, Russia, Japan, India--countries we see very little of. Other than France and England, we really don't hear anything about the rest of Europe at all. Most of the speculation, which is what I sought in this book, took a backburner to the thriller-esque multi-character story lines. We followed a city engineer in Seattle (the best character by far), a marooned U.S. super-spy in France, a pair of sexy drug smuggler babes , an embedded Army Times reporter, a general in Cuba, a general in Hawaii, a shady lawyer, etc. Most of the story lines spend far too much time in bang-bang shoot-em-out gunfights (with far too much attention paid to the type of ammo people had) that prompted frequent page-scanning until I could get past all the fluff and back into some story meat. The cause of the Disappearance is really never explained, and I ostensibly understand why--Birmingham is basically saying that the Disappearance is ancillary, a means to a literary end. We're talking about the /effects/ of America falling off the face of the earth; he makes it happen quickly so we can get into the "good stuff." But that doesn't jive with the fact that most of the book reads more like a thriller-y disaster book. If it's a disaster book, then I want to know everything I can about the disaster you invented. If it's speculative fiction, I want to hear about all the speculated worldwide effects. What we get instead is a half-successful attempt at both.

    Without Warning is an interesting book for sure, and despite its flaws, it's a quick, fun read--I just wish it had spent more time fleshing out its speculative premise and less time building the typical thriller storyline.
    ...more info
  • Birmo's best yet!
    I agree with the other reviewers that this is Birmo's best novel yet. Great characters, great action and pacing. Plus, he does "lowlife" characters better than just about anyone and is capable of making them likeable. It was a little odd that the American publisher left in the Aussie terms and spellings, but it wasn't really much of a factor. The only disappointment is that we'll have to wait until 2010 to get the next book in this trilogy. I wish they could be issued monthly!...more info
  • Another one out of the park
    Mr. Birmingham, in the fine tradition that he has created, has produced another great novel. His topic, and the consequences of it, is something that the world should consider more often. Thank you for this book!...more info
  • A good page-turner; unsatisfying end
    Without Warning held me from beginning to end, even though the sci-fi premise was beyond ridiculous.

    Unfortunately, the book's end was even more ridiculous than the premise.

    Birmingham spends most of the book proving to me beyond a doubt that U.S. military men and women (Col Susan Peleggi is a fine example) are far and away the best citizens, leaders and decision makers America has. They preserve and protect what is left after the unthinkable happens, even as the wolves circle. Amidst the unthinkable, they are concerned about the Constitution they took an oath to preserve. And they don't run...choosing rather to fight and die than give up.

    But in the end, Birmingham bows to his liberal audience of Playboy and Rolling Stone readers (I should have read the back flyleaf first to see who he writes for) and, taking a page out of Dr. Strangelove, has trashed the military as overbearing power hungry jerks. He phones in the concluding chapter in a most unsatisfying manner as if he's met his page number goal and needed to end the book.

    Worse, he leaves America at the mercy of incompetent unsympathetic people I wouldn't trust deciding, as Birmingham himself observes, which politicians are "entitled to a packet of effing Oreos at their meetings..." (p. 270).

    Though Without Warning is very exciting and a great read whenever the scene is outside the continental U.S., it suffers seriously each time the scene shifts to Seattle. They are clueless, poor excuses for Americans, and have learned nothing. It's a sad commentary. The only thing missing was the smell of marijuana, although that explains why the most pressing issue facing the Seattle City Councillors was arguing about who's bogarting the Oreos.

    The only thing worse would have been for the California legislature to be in charge.

    In Birmingham's world, Seattle's muddled tree-hugging politics is to be preferred over proven leadership. Military generals, you see, are incapable of becoming civilian leaders and should be feared and avoided. You know, like those failed presidents George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Untrustworthy militarists all.

    Liberals "sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" (Orwell). But if they even admit those rough men exist, they refuse to honor them with positions of civilian leadership, all the while entertaining the irrational belief that peace, prosperity and safety simply spring from the ground like some weed by the power good intentions. "Protect us! Save us! Now go away you scum."

    It's as if Birmingham, to please his readers, wants the guy running America to be an unproven incompetent clueless amateur who's main resume points are "Community Organizer" and a few days as a Senator who voted "present" most of the time. Oh, wait....

    The buzz is that Birmingham is in Clancy's class. No way. Not if Birmingham's idea of America is Seattle.

    As much as I enjoyed Without Warning, I won't buy the sequel.
    ...more info
  • Editors fail to keep write in check
    I think given the prior three books that his editors, could not keep him in check. Just like Tom Clancy who after a great book was never again to write as well. Here we have three great stories in this book and he should of been told to finish one them for a great book.
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  • drags on and on
    The story line skips all over and drags on with too much background. Becomes boring. Found myself skipping through trying to get to something that could hold my attention. I rarely do that but this book was impossible to capture my attention....more info
  • W.O.W.!! With Out Warning....
    This is my first book by this author. I must admit, that given the large size of this book, 512 pgs, I was reluctant to pick it up until I had a good block of time to devote to reading. I normally finish a book in one or two sittings, yet with this book, I found myself putting it down many times, just so I could absorb the story and postpone the end!

    If you don't already know, this book is considered a sci fi genre book, and it is about most of the United States totally disappearing, or being reduced to a jello like substance! The remaining American areas are Seattle, Hawaii and Alaska.

    The book takes place in 2003, with George W still at the helm. It tells a story of what the world would be like without the presence of the U.S. as the world's watchdog. I became so totally engrossed with this book, the characters and the plot, that when I woke up the next day, I had a hard time shifting back to the current reality!

    I was just thrilled when I discovered that there will be a sequel to this story, and can't wait for it to be released. This book is absolutely worth the price....more info
  • when's the next one?
    I've read Birmingham and have been please with his past offerings. So I looked for this product to be entertaining as well. (I was a little bummeed that he didn't continue his last trilogy)

    As the story opens up, I must admit, that I had a feeling Birmingham was possibly portraying some anti-american bias. This gave me an uneasy feeling. I decided to stick with the story to see where he was going to take the reader and, man, am I glad I did. There was no anti-american bias. I was force to admit to myself that I was a little too sensitive to that possiblity.

    As the story unfolded I was drug deeper and deeper into a fascinating account of what human nature could revert to if the world's economic foundation was suddenly removed. In addition, what would humans do to each other if the biggest baddest watch dog was suddenly knocked unconscious and had no master to provide for it?

    Birmingham's account is an exciting read. It is also a little disturbing. But it is also something that everyone who has an interest in human nature should read. It left me saying..."what's next?". I can hardly wait for his next installment.

    ...more info
  • Ordinary
    Having read the author's "Axis of Time" trilogy and quite enjoyed it, I approached this, the start of a new trilogy, with reasonably high expectations. Overall I found it a bit of a let-down.

    The technique used is one much used by Harry Turtledove:

    (a) Invoke a premise that stands the world as we know it on its head; and
    (b) Tell stories - lots of different (and completely unrelated) ones from different people in different places - about its consequences.

    In this case, an energy wave of unknown origin and bordered by a vast curtain stopping just short of Seattle on the one hand and Guantanamo Bay on the other, wipes out all of life in those parts of the USA, Canada and Mexico that are behind it. (In some ways it reminded me of the change in physical laws in S.J. Stirling's "Dies the fire"). This happens just prior to the planned invasion of Iraq, which, as can be imagined, spoils somewhat the preparations for that particular affair. And, as can also be imagined, the sudden removal from the scene of the world's major heavyweight causes all sorts of other nasty things to crawl out of the woodwork to exploit the vacuum.

    The idea is no more preposterous than that of the transport of a 21st century battle fleet to the WW2 Pacific theatre, but somehow I found the story-telling more pedestrian and the characters and events less engaging than those of "Axis of Time". Indeed, I found myself reading it at least partially out of determination to try to get something more approaching my money's worth. As a result, I'll buy the other two books only if offered at a price I can't refuse.
    ...more info
  • Loved his books but too expensive
    I have read the author's other series and it was great. I do plan to buy this book but $14.30 for an e-book is just too much when much more well known authors have best sellers selling for $9.99.

    I will buy it when it comes down to $9.99 and not a second before....more info
  • Out of Sight!
    Putting this book in the "Science Fiction" category does not do it justice. It is a page turner of the highest magnitude and at no time can you figure out what will happen next and how the story will end, but then it really doesn't end because the author has left himself plenty of wiggle room as to what will happen in the sequel, and I'm sure there will be one. No need to wait for that, however, this book is a tour de force standing alone. The "Wave" has destroyed most of America - where it came from and what it is made of is not explained. Maybe it never will be, but then, maybe we don't want to know. Will America survive? In what form? Will the military take over the destiny of those left alive? Will a hero emerge? Will a human villain emerge? If you want to relieve the stress of every day life and develop a new type of stress, as to the future - this book will be perfect for you. I had never read Mr. Birmingham's books before, and I think I missed something. Back to the paperbacks to see other examples, I hope, of his genius. ...more info
  • Great read, held my attention all the way.
    This is the second John Birmingham book I have read and can't wait for the next....more info