The Last Town on Earth

A Novel

Mullen, Thomas

Book - 2006
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Last Town on Earth
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 Earthis a remarkably moving and accomplished debut. From the Hardcover edition.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400065202
Branch Call Number: FICTION MULLEN
Characteristics: xiv, 394 p. ;,25 cm


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Aug 23, 2014
  • rayne221 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is a novel. However, clearly the author has done his research on the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. The author has taken the facts as they were -- a flu, which took the lives of 5 times more people than were killed in action during WWI worldwide, was far in a way more devastating to society than even the black plague. The author has taken the facts of how society dealt with this pandemic, creating fictional characters in a fictional setting.. Commonwealth; a town that closed down and isolated itself in hopes of keeping the infection outside of its boarders.
In history this was a very challenging time economically, politically, psychologically and personally. For many who were able to survive the trenches away in Europe came home only to die of the Spanish Flu. If you like historical novels, this should be on your list of must reads.

Apr 09, 2014
  • KCLSLibsRecommend rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Set in Washington State during WWI, the flu epidemic, and the advent of organized labor. A well written tale that knits together dilemmas facing the people of a small logging town. Spies, union organizers, and fear of disease and death all come into play even as the townsfolk try to shut themselves off from the outside world.

Jan 25, 2014
  • GLNovak rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The premise behind this story - that you can isolate yourself and be immune to what is going on in the world - is one that has driven many groups over the years. Here the author has given us a lumber mill owner and his wife who have a vision of a better way to run a company. Commonwealth is their town and the decision is made to bar anyone from entering or leaving so as to escape the Spanish flu ravaging the rest of the country. We are introduced to every side of the issue, as well as all the sentiments at the time swirling around the US involvement in WWI, and on top of that, the attitude to workers following some terrible violent strikes. At times I felt the author was contriving too hard, spelling out motivations too plainly and not letting me learn them through actions and simple conversation. I wanted to know more about some characters and less about others. There were way too many I thought, and even towards the end we were meeting new ones. However, the book did move along and carry me with it. The description of local scenery brought the forest and climate of the Pacific Northwest to life. A good read for information but not so good for literature.

Jan 20, 2013
  • hmcgivney rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I heard recently on the radio that monsters like werewolves and vampires were the result of superstitious minds trying to understand the causes of disease and plague. Now that we "know better" we can de-fang these monsters (*cough* Twilight, *cough*) but the specter of a modern plague is made even more scary by how the world works now - sure we can isolate and cure disease, but we also spread it worldwide with the speed of airplanes. All of this has nothing to do with anything other than this book brings up a really scary scenario and then proceeds to call into question the "sensible" and "practical" methods by which the town of Commonwealth tried to protect itself from a disease that could not be stopped. What would we do now that was any different other than carry around buckets of hand sanitizer, like some alcohol gel could protect us against that kind of menace? I thought the part about the war, and the "communist" town, and the American Protective League were interesting, but almost superfluous to the larger plot about Spanish flu. That they really did historically happen at the same time, just makes it all the more frightening.

Aug 21, 2012
  • marmoore rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Interesting concept from which to spin a story - a town that cuts itself off in order to keep the Spanish flu out in 1917-18.

Apr 27, 2011
  • Jennmro rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Creepy, but good. Great local history.

Apr 27, 2011
  • junebug49 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Historical novel about the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918; my parents lived through this in Seattle prior to their marriage. The WW I Armistice was signed during this time, just before my Marine Corps father was sent overseas.

A riveting story of suspected German spies, draft-dodgers, and conscientious objectors.

Local history of Everett lumber strikes, protests & murders.


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