Dover Book

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   I now own the entire collection of Dover Publications' "Doomsday Classics." I contacted them because if you type that in their searchbar, you get all kind of unrelated titles. Tracy was kind enough to respond with a link that reveals all twelve of them, and here it is. Ya gotta type in just "doomsday." Over half of these are available as free eBooks, including this one which I didn't know when I bought it. So as I review them, you'll get that information, too. There is a thirteenth one that is now out of print, but I also have it as an eBook. Anyways, they are all apocalyptic in nature, as the category implies, so I thought now might be the right time to get them read and posted, if you get my drift . . . . Here is my Futuristic, Apocalyptic, Time Travel Index Page, and you will find my reviews for these books there.
   The story is about an irresponsible and incompetent "scientist," who messes with bacteria that "denitrify" the soil, which accidentally are released. They consume all the nitrogen in the soil and leave plant life to starve, so that humanity can no longer grow food. Em . . . that sounds kind of appropriate for 2020. In fact, it gave me such a jolt that I have begun researching ways to get more nitrogen into the soil. Coffee grounds and borage are two sources, plus compost, all of which I have. Of course, the shit being sprayed on us 24/7—the aluminum and other heavy metals are preventing the plants from taking in the nutrients they need. I've known that for years and it continues to worsen each year. Plus there are other factors, too, all human-caused and done quite on purpose. The next book I am read to review is on GMO seeds, to keep on the same theme of impending starvation.
   But the problem with this story is that it isn't as good as it should be. I expected a "can't put it down" book, but I found that I easily could. The folks at Goodreads didn't think too highly of it either. Still, it has some very good points, and I didn't not like it, it just could have been written better.
   J.J. Connington is the pseudonym for Alfred Walter Stewart, who was actually a British chemist, born in Glasgow, where most of the story is set. He wrote seventeen detective novels, but this one, which Wikipedia calls an "ecocatastrophe disaster novel," is his best known work. It was written in 1923. There is not a Wikipedia page for any of his works, although they list them all. And they note that Dover has published this reprint, so apparently no one else has. I found a few of his other novels at Internet Archive, including this one and The Two Tickets Puzzle, which Wikipedia notes that Dorothy L. Sayers "paid tribute to Stewart's The Two Tickets Puzzle in her The Five Red Herrings. She gave him full credit and built on one of his ideas for part of the solution of her mystery." I just downloaded the Sayers book, too at Gutenberg Canada. Just scroll down to the "S" section. Stewart lived from 1880 to 1947. And now, on to the story.
   I actually took pages and pages of notes on this one and obviously won't cover them all. But there were so many statements here that struck way too close to home. Just the whole premise that in such a sudden flash, the earth's entire ability to grow food came to a screeching halt, and the national food supplies for the UK were only enough to last for twelve weeks. I read just recently that most American households only have enough food to last three days!! OMG. I have enough to last probably a good two months, but this book makes one want to stock up on canned and dry goods. Those of us who are in the habit of keeping stocked did not run into the hoarding horrors when the "plandemic" first hit. Plus, people throw SO MUCH FOOD away. They will learn the hard way, because this basic scenario is looming, for real.
   This is how it all happens. By the way, Nordenholt's Million does not refer to money, although he is wealthy. It refers to people—his chosen ones to be secretly whisked away to safety while the rest of England perishes. Sound even more familiar?
   One of those people is the narrator, Jack Flint, who tells how the denitrifying bacteria was first released. He was visiting a "friend,"—a pseudo-scientist named Wotherspoon, who gets rich writing about others' discoveries while not having the know-how to make his own. Except for once and that was the killer. Flint, who is a young successful bachelor, for some reason visits Wotherspoon on a regular basis. When a visitor arrives, he always likes to give the impression that he is hard at work with some new discovery, especially when the visitor is from the press. However, on this occasion, he has made a discovery, and it concerns a certain bacteria that eats up all the nitrogen content of the soil, then releases it into the air, making it inaccessible to the plants, which promptly die.
   On the fateful night, Wotherspoon is giving Flint a lecture on food production, and how beneficial nitrifying bacteria release nitrogen in the soil and make it more accessible to plants, where, as stated above, the denitrifying ones do the opposite. That evening is very hot and the upper-story apartment windows are open. There is a serious storm brewing, but no rain is coming. Suddenly the two men see this "fireball" in the sky, which moves toward them. I thought that was something Connington just made up, but apparently not. Here's a Wikipedia article on Ball Lightning. One has to wonder if some of these devastating fires out west may have been triggered by something like this. Dry lightning is often mentioned. And one also has to wonder if they, too, are part of the weather terrorism agenda.
   Anyways, it makes its way into the lab and explodes, shattering everything, but what neither man notices or cares about is the release of the bacteria. Flint notes in his book, the irony that this two-bit "scientist would be the one to unleash this agent of apocalypse." Keep in mind, at this point, the manufacture of artificial nitrogen fertilizer was apparently not common-place yet, although that would have done little good in this scenario.
   Anyways, the next morning, Flint is still shaken on the previous evening's event, and remains home all day, venturing out in the evening, back to Wotherspoon's apartment. He has been musing over the shrinking world, since aeroplanes can now cross the globe. He also thinks about the vast amount of untapped resources and global land which could be used "for humanity to draw upon their abundance."
   Wotherspoon is not in a sociable mood, and gives Flint some microscope slides to view while he finishes some new article. So Flint looks at what remains of the pink gel that holds the denitrifying bacteria. To his horror, he sees that they have apparently mutated since the fireball, and are now multiplying at break-neck speed. He tries to warn Wotherspoon, who is caught up in his self-importance and ignores him. Flint finally leaves. "And that was how Wotherspoon missed the greatest discovery that ever came his way."
   It is three days later that mention is made of a "strange blight" that had struck Regent's Park. All plants—grass, trees, flowers—everything is beginning to wither away. There had been a prolonged drought that summer, and many think that is perhaps what is going on. There is no sign of fungus, so the malady is simply called a "blight." The devastating aspect of this is that no one, at least in the first critical days, has a clue that there is something much more serious going on, especially Flint, and apparently Wotherspoon never did "get it." At first people thought it was limited to that area, but it quickly spreads like wildfire, not only in urban areas, but much worse, farm crops are dropping dead before they can be harvested. "Total Failure Of Crops" the headlines read.
   Finally the rains came, and though many assumed that would stop the devastation, in fact, it made it much worse. But no one still has a clue as to the scope of this disaster. Pay attention here, because this sounds awfully familiar . . .
   Very quickly this "blight" spreads, and it becomes less and less an isolated problem when people realize it is spreading throughout England. Of course, the economic impact is feared—the rising cost of food, the loss of revenue for the farmers. But no, they still don't have a clue. They soon learn that it has spread across the Atlantic, so their plans to get surplus food from the U.S. and Canada are thwarted. Certainly there are places in the world that are not being hit with this "blight". Nope, again. With aeroplane travel the disease has hitched a ride, and is now a global catastrophe. Even Flint has not connected Wotherspoon's denitrifying bacteria with this disaster. Yet. But finally another scientist discovers B. diazotans, and the reality of the situation now sinks in, for a few people, at least. The bacteria has now decimated the soil. Everything but the clays have degenerated into sand. Now there can no longer even be the hope that "next year's harvest" will be a good one, because there is no soil left to plant.
   As a farmer, and one who has closely watched the deliberate destruction of our ability to grow food on this planet, both from the climate engineering activities constantly going on above us, and the proliferation of GMO foods, which ARE having a devastating effect on those of us attempting to grow organically, this book shook me up. Plus the spraying of Monsanto's poisons, such as Round-Up and dicamba, which drift around and kill everything that is not grown with GMO seeds, this scenario hits too close to home for comfort. People do not pay attention to any of this as long as they can go to a grocery store with stocked shelves. And so it goes in the story; people hear the news, but somehow the magnitude of the problem doesn't register. All they can think about is the financial impact. Again, familiar, huh? I also want to add that a short paragraph was added concerning speculation in Chicago—those who thought they could make a killing from the disaster. Of course, these people were all ruined because, in reality, all the food commodities they speculated on did not even exist. Real familiar, and it's about time that happens again, here, now.
   Here is where we meet Nordenholt, and I'm not sure how the author really felt about him. Connington/Stewart was a chemist, and the whole novel has a very "removed" sort of atmosphere about it. It makes one think of despicable creeps like Bill Gates and David Keith, who would gladly kill most of us off so that they and their equally creepy friends and colleagues could live. I wonder if the author really liked this character he created. He is presented as a hero through the end, but is that the way the author really felt about the situation, or did he write it to make people think?
   Anyways, Flint is invited to a meeting with the Prime Minister and a few others higher-ups, in a secret place to avoid the press. Flint was familiar with Nordenholt—he was very well known among successful people because he himself was extraordinarily successful. But few had actually met him, nor did he ever allow his picture to be taken. Here, Flint finally sees him in person. He is a member of Parliament.
   So the Prime Minister begins his speech promptly. He and his close advisors have created a seven-part plan to deal with the disaster at hand. Of course, the plan is a disaster in itself, which basically entails lying to the public that all is under control and includes private purchase of food, plus rationing, and inviting scientists to devote their time to solve the problem of increasing production of next year's harvest.
   When the Prime Minister has concluded, Nordenholt calmly requests to see the written document with the plan. Here is his opinion of it.

"This scheme of yours, if I am not mistaken, is a piece of window dressing, pure and simple. You felt that you had to make some show of energy; and to pacify the public you bring forward these proposals. The first two of them achieve nothing practical; and the remaining five concern steps which you propose to take at some future time, but which you have not yet considered fully. Am I correct?

   He also informs the Prime Minister that his communications are more up to date than theirs, and all this food surplus they planned to purchase is no longer available. And the United States has now prohibited the export of any food products they have stocked. And to end with further shock, Nordenholt says this:

"Do you mean to say," he asked roughly, "that you haven't realized yet that there will be no next harvest? Don't you understand that things have changed, once for all? The soil is done for."

   Then later he asks: "How are you going to feed fifty millions of people for an indefinite time when your supplies are only capable of feeding them normally for twelve weeks?"
   The Prime Minister replies that Parliament is about to meet and he will "lay this matter before the Grand Inquest of the nation and let them decide." Nordenholt becomes more aggressive. He points out all the time that will be wasted while the government attempts to construct a viable plan. No time is to be wasted because the food supply for all of England diminishes by the minute. He then resorts to blackmail on all three of the Cabinet members present, and basically, takes over the government and becomes dictator.
   Here is where the moral issues become really touchy. Nordenholt does not do this for power or money. He has all that he wants, and as Flint later finds when he visits Nordenholt's home, he lives very simply. Nordenholt truly does want to rescue at least a segment of Britain so that there is hope the country may survive and thrive again, with no ulterior motive. In that respect, we may perhaps consider him a hero. But, even so, does one person have the right to choose who will have at least a minimal chance to survive? Or to choose who will most surely perish? And to make certain that the latter group becomes deprived of even the means to survive. A little note: some outside the Nitrogen Area do survive, and a huge number inside perish. Out of the fifty million British citizens, five million are chosen. They will all move to the Clyde Valley in Scotland, near Glasgow, and once that happens, all communication with the outside world will cease, and all means of communication between those in the outside world is also destroyed. Here is where is all sounds just plain evil, and also very familiar to what is coming upon us now. More on that later.
   And what becomes even more disturbing is the psychology of Nordenholt himself. People of this nature always have disturbed psychology, even though the author seems to praise it. Flint wonders why he was even invited to this meeting, and finds out later that Nordenholt and his men know pretty much everything about everyone. Flint was chosen because his expertise lies in the organization of factory production, and he is to be Nordenholt's right-hand man. Flint is invited to visit Nordenholt when the meeting ends.
   In the next couple chapters, we hear a long, drawn-out history of Nordenholt's life as he tells it to Flint. Like how he got wealthy, yet found he had no interest in money or even what it could buy, as his house furnishing reflect. It was more the game of it, the challenge, and he notes that all the people who are extremely wealthy are the same. That certainly makes sense, when you see people like Musk and Gates and Bezos, who could easily feed every person who is starving, yet all they want is more. Many think it's about power, and it is that, but it is more just a game and challenge. And we the people suffer for it.
   When Nordenholt leaves to take a phone call, Flint begins to browse among the large collection of Nordenholt's books. Expecting to find volumes on business and finance, he is surprised they are all on psychology. Nordenholt gives him a long speech on how his thing is to study men, and he knows them inside out, and he knows their breaking point, or "breaking strain" as he calls it. He knows, because he has put himself through the tests, and never allowed himself to miss a challenge that he determined to win, no matter how dangerous. And the game he plays now is certainly that. But he sees it as the only hope of saving even a few people. I could never see it that way, and yet what about all the elites now who "supposedly" have safe underground bunkers where they can survive when they destroy everyone else? They will come to no good, and neither did most of Nordenholt's people.
   This review is already long, so just let me mention a few more things. The most important is how he blatantly set up a false reality—a great big lie—to the people outside the Nitrogen area. Hmm. Wasn't that similar to the information he planned to use to blackmail the Cabinet?
   The Nitrogen Area, by the way, contains coal mines for energy, and factories to produce synthetic nitrogen. Nordenholt has not just chosen elite. Of course, he has had to choose laborers, families with children, men and women, married and unmarried, five million of them. He also makes it clear to Flint that the entire monetary system will disappear, in fact, he says there will "be a clean break between the old system and the new one we are making."
   As for the rest of the British population, Nordenholt and his "million" have an advanced scheme to completely dupe them. He had support from all sides, because people were made to believe he had a plan to save them all. No one even questioned him, but, ah, isn't that what happens when a crisis is created and people blindly look for a leader to bring them to safety? People believed the Clyde Valley was only one of the many areas devoted to growing food. But once all his people were settled in, the rest of the grand plan went into action.

During that night a carefully-planned course of destruction was followed. Every telegraph and telephone exchange was gutted; the remaining artillery was rendered useless; all the printing machinery of newspapers was wrecked; every aeroplane destroyed and practically all aerodromes burned: and as the trains went northward in the night, bridge after bridge on the line or road was blown up. When morning came, there was a complete stoppage of all the normal channels of communication; and up to the border the railways had been put out of action for months.

   It's called "Divide and Conquer," I believe . . . . And the thing is, since no one could communicate with anyone out of their immediate vicinity, everyone thought the problems were just local, and that the other areas were working fine, giving them hope the their outages would soon be restored.
   Nordenholt also had spies that lived in the "outer world" who were able to move back and forth to promote his agenda. In fact, he had formed special centers for the spread of rumors! The final and greatest deception was when the notices began to appear that plague had struck the Clyde Valley, and that Nordenholt and most everyone else was dead. Not only was the last hope of these seriously bamboozled people totally broken now, but they lived with fear of the disease.
   And just one more point. Once inside the Nitrogen Area, Nordenholt ruled with an iron fist. Anyone who did not work to the highest capacity was a useless eater who was thrown back into the outer world. And anyone who even dared to stand up against Nordenholt was also removed. That included all members of government.
   Oh! My, oh my!! Even though this was not one of my favorite books, there is just TOO MUCH here that sounds WAY TOO FAMILIAR here is 2020. Gasp! I will end here, which is about halfway through the book. In spite of everything, I give this an extremely high recommendation to read. Remember you can download it for free at the Internet Archive link above.
   Following this review, you will be deluged with book reviews concerning food production!!! My immediate advice is to stock up on canned goods and dry goods.


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