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The Last Town on Earth

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The Last Town on Earth Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced-the 1918 flu epidemic-Thomas Mullens powerful, sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval.

Deep in the mist-shrouded forests of the Pacific Northwest is a small mill town called Commonwealth, conceived as a haven for workers weary of exploitation. For Philip Worthy, the adopted son of the towns founder, it is a haven in another sense-as the first place in his life hes had a loving family to call his own.

And yet, the ideals that define this outpost are being threatened from all sides. A world war is raging, and with the fear of spies rampant, the loyalty of all Americans is coming under scrutiny. Meanwhile, another shadow has fallen across the region in the form of a deadly illness striking down vast swaths of surrounding communities.

When Commonwealth votes to quarantine itself against contagion, guards are posted at the single road leading in and out of town, and Philip Worthy is among them. He will be unlucky enough to be on duty when a cold, hungry, tired-and apparently ill-soldier presents himself at the towns doorstep begging for sanctuary. The encounter that ensues, and the shots that are fired, will have deafening reverberations throughout Commonwealth, escalating until every human value-love, patriotism, community, family, friendship-not to mention the towns very survival, is imperiled.

Inspired by a little-known historical footnote regarding towns that quarantined themselves during the 1918 epidemic, The Last Town on Earth is a remarkably moving and accomplished debut.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Thomas Mullen was born in Rhode Island and lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife. He is at work on a new novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

richf714, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by richf714)
This book is a good read which shows how our human nature reacts to external influences which are beyond our control. The historical backdrop makes for an interesting view on how folks react under trying circumstances.
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Helen M Mendoza, December 17, 2011 (view all comments by Helen M Mendoza)
Although this is a first novel it is surprisingly well researched and polished. It has won more than one prize including the Fennimore prize for historical fiction. The book is set in the state of Washington during the last year of WWI and the flu epidemic. It celebrates the American genius for eccentricity, moral courage, and the march to a different drummer. The setting is a town founded in capitalist cash and idealism that follows the American tendency "to go it alone" until fate or human nature contrive to show that we all live interdependently and to try to ignore that is to choose a hard row to hoe. I hesitate to say too much about the plot because it is rather riveting but one character I personally found fascinating was the town's doctor. He is a man who was taught medicine in an apprentice system rife with theories of the aether and miasma of sickness yet exposed through one of his own mentees to the latest in germ theory of the time. The tension, the doubts he endures in the face of the flu epidemic are so moving and profoundly humbling. There is also an interesting and moving presentation of the Everett Washington "massacre" in a flashback of one of the main characters. The presentation of the so-called average working class American in this book is so truthful. It is an interesting contrast to Camus' The Plague but of equal moral worth.
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SusanH, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by SusanH)
It is the autumn of 1918 and a world war and an influenza epidemic rage outside the isolated Utopian logging community of Commonwealth, Wash. In an eerily familiar climate of fear, rumor and patriotic hysteria, the town enacts a strict quarantine, posting guards at the only road into town. A weary soldier approaches the gate on foot and refuses to stop. Shots ring out, setting into motion a sequence of events that will bring the town face-to-face with some of the 20th-century's worst horrors. Mullen's ambitious debut is set against a plausibly sketched background, including events such the Everett Massacre (between vigilantes and the IWW), the political repression that accompanied the U.S. entry into WWI and the rise of the Wobblies.
Great read!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780812975925
Author:
Mullen, Thomas
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Author:
Thomas Mullen
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Ethics
Subject:
Community life
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20070731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
8.01x5.30x.94 in. .68 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

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