Copyright 1985 by
Sadly, I can't remember when I read this book.
In this near-future Earth, civilisation has taken a battering. There have been
tremendous problems, from wars and world-wide conflict to pollution and lethal
viruses. Even so, American civilisation could have pulled itself together together and
struggled on through. However, a peculiar breed of survivalists, led by the wrong
man at the wrong time, caused the final collapse of the US government and the
descent of the country into small isolated hamlets, each fearful of outsiders,
while hordes of survivalists roam, killing and pillaging their across the states.
Civilisation has lost, hard-won human rights discarded and a faith in progress
thrown away: children no longer even know how to read.
Our hero, Gordon Krantz, is no longer a young man. He remembers the old world, his
days at college and the promise that life once held. He's survived as a loner,
he's surprised that he's survived so long. He's more surprised that, even in these
tough times, he's still maintained his personal morality and his hope, though not
belief, in a better future.
Still he's reached his personal bottom - he's been chased through the woods like a
rabbit, he's been forced to abandon his personal belongings and most of his supplies.
Then, lost in the woods, he finds and puts on the postman's leather jacket, and picks
up the mailbag with the crumbling letters still inside, and his future, and the
future of America, changes.
This is one of my favourite post-apocalypse novels. It's got Brin's magnificent
It's got a misunderstood hero, who doesn't know he's a hero. It's got a fight
between good and evil. It's got deep questions, the big questions, what to eat
today, what clothes to wear and how to maintain a civilised morality when
civilisation has crumbled around you.
It's got leather jackets, brave and tragic women and a strong message for putting
aside the weapons of war and resisting the militarists - particularly topical today,
I remember being irritated when I saw the movie
(The Postman directed by Kevin Costner).
It rather drastically changed the ending of the story. and to some extent the
moral point of the novel. Here's a quote from the review on
imdb: "one of the worst films to come out of 1997".
However, I always rather liked the movie, albeit peeved at the ending, and nowadays
the DVD has become one of my firm favourites, as should any movie in which Tom Petty
On rereading the book this time around, I'm a bit put off by the novel's
ending (rather than the movie's). It seems out of place. rather disconnected from the
rest of the novel. On the subject of Tom Petty, I just had the pleasure of listening
to "American Girl" on Virgin's internet radio. I'm very pleased to say that both
"American Girl" and "The Postman" survive as classic, and still immensely enjoyable,
Loaded on the 30th November 2002.