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228 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1951
"Standing there, and at that time, my heart still resisted what my head was telling me. Even yet I had the feeling that it was all something too big, too unnatural really to happen. Yet I knew that it was by no means the first time that it had happened. The corpses of other great cities are lying buried in deserts, and obliterated by the jungles of Asia. Some of them fell so long ago that even their names have gone with them. But to those who lived there their dissolution can have seemed no more probable or possible than the necrosis of a great modern city seemed to me...The questions that must be faced once the end of the world as we know it arrives are not heroic (How do we triumph over the monsters?) but quite prosaically practical and yet staggering in their implications: How do we go on as a society - and is there even a place for society as we know it? What do we preserve? What do we have to discard? How do we deal with realizing our own weakness and fragility as a species? Is there a place for the old values and ideas of good and evil, of morals, of responsibility - or does the changed society make us necessarily evolve with it? How much can we move on in the world that has moved on?
It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that 'it can't happen here' - that one's own little time and place is beyond cataclysms. And now it was happening here. Unless there should be some miracle I was looking on the beginning of the end of London - and very likely, it seemed, there were other men, not unlike me, who were looking on the beginning of the end of New York, Paris, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Bombay, and all the rest of the cities that were destined to go the way of those others under the jungle."
“When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”
Most people aren't, even though they'd protest that they are. They prefer to be coaxed or wheedled, or even driven. That way they never make a mistake: if there is one, it's always due to something or somebody else. This going headlong for things is a mechanistic view, and people in general aren't machines. They have minds of their own - mostly peasant minds, at their easiest when they are in the familiar furrow.But there are many furrows, and this one is full of shit.
“It must be, I thought, one of the race's most persistent and comforting hallucinations to trust that "it can't happen here" -- that one's own time and place is beyond cataclysm.”