I’ve read Warday: And the Journey Onward twice before, but it’s been a long time and so when I came across the audiobook, I decided to read it again. Written by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka in 1984, Warday takes place five years after a limited nuclear war between the United States and Russia, when two men decide to travel around the US gathering material for a book documenting people’s experience since the war as well as the state of the country today.
If you’ve read World War Z, you’ll wonder if Max Brooks read Warday and decided to borrow the idea. A large part of the story is comprised of interviews with a number of people including government officials, a priest, foreign citizens, and a salvage worker helping to strip New York City of every last item of value.
We’re told that only seven million people were killed on Warday, when only a few cities and the missile fields of the upper mid-west were hit with nuclear weapons. But 60 million more succumb to starvation or disease in the next five years.
The lower half of Texas has seceded and formed their own Latino nation. California is a police state, with armed guards policing the borders and severe penalties for anyone trying to enter the State illegally. The mid-west states still deal with fallout, and in many areas the economy has collapsed.
This isn’t an action story by any means; it’s a very detailed look at the state of the country in the early stages of recovering from a brutal war. In addition to the interview style, the book is also chock full of charts, graphs and opinion polls giving an extremely realistic view of how the country is trying to cope with the variety of challenges it faces.
I’ve seen other reviews say it’s too slow, and if you’re looking for something with mutants, explosions or gunplay, this isn’t it. But if you’re a fan of the rebuilding aspect of the genre and appreciate realism and attention to detail, then this really is a great book. The variety of situations the characters come across, and the ways the different geographic regions of the country are affected, are all very interesting and well described.
I would highly recommend it.