The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen
A Novel

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Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced–the 1918 flu epidemic–Thomas Mullen’s 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 town’s founder, it is a haven in another sense–as the first place in his life he’s 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 town’s 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 town’s 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 Thomas Mullen

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Thomas Mullen is the author of The Last Town on Earth, which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction, and The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers. His books have been named Best of the Year by such publications as the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Onion, and Amazon.com. He lives with his wife and sons in Atlanta.
 
Published August 29, 2006 by Random House. 416 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Last Town on Earth

Kirkus Reviews

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Philip, back home but now stricken himself, rises from his sickbed to confront Graham, then a delegation of lawmen and goons from Timber Falls forces its way into town to arrest draft-dodgers, including the sick and contagious.

Sep 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

The New York Times

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Time and again, his imagery — from the “logs bobbing on the water’s surface like corpses” to the whole town, seen “in full eclipse” — is devastatingly right.

Sep 03 2006 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

Examiner

In 1918 a postman wears the only known defense against the deadly flu - a mask.

Jun 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Set during the twin catastrophes of WWI and the 1918 flu epidemic, Thomas Mullen's Last Town on Earth explores the risks of trading freedom for safety.

Aug 18 2006 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

The Bookbag

Summary: A town struggling to keep itself protected from the global 1918 influenza epidemic finds more human visitors just as problematic in this gripping and well worthwhile read.

Dec 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

USA Today

Thomas Mullen's absorbing first novel draws you in immediately, just like the deep, rich forests of Washington state, where The Last Town on Earth begins with a bang.

| Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

USA Today

The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (Random House, $13.95, reprint).

| Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

Deseret News

In the wake of avian flu paranoia comes Thomas Mullen's first novel, set during the onslaught of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed five times more Americans than World War I.

Jul 23 2006 | Read Full Review of The Last Town on Earth: A Novel

Reader Rating for The Last Town on Earth
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