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The Night of the Long Knives

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Published: 1960
Language: English
Wordcount: 33,657 / 100 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 75.1
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 4,274
Added to site: 2008.05.31 21072

Any man who saw you, or even heard your footsteps must be ambushed, stalked and killed, whether needed for food or not. Otherwise, so long as his strength held out, he would be on your trail.--The Twenty-Fifth Hour, by Herbert Best

Show Excerpt

know all about. Maybe they do. But I wonder if they understand how intense it can be with us Deathlanders when it's the only release (except maybe liquor and drugs, which we seldom can get and even more rarely dare use)--the only complete release, even though a brief one, from the overpowering loneliness and from the tyranny of the urge to kill.

To embrace, to possess, to glut lust on, yes even briefly to love, briefly to shelter in--that was good, that was a relief and release to be treasured.

But it couldn't last. You could draw it out, prop it up perhaps for a few days, for a month even (though sometimes not for a single night)--you might even start to talk to each other a little, after a while--but it could never last. The glands always tire, if nothing else.

Murder was the only final solution, the only permanent release. Only us Deathlanders know how good it feels. But then after the kill the loneliness would come back, redoubled, and after a while I'd meet another

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 3.4 from 5 reviews: ****
JoJo Biggins

My number one criteria for judging any story is whether or not it engages the reader. In that respect, this story has it covered. I didn't particularly care for the ending, or this might have been a 5-star feature.

If I could sum up the entire thing in one word, it would be - weird. A very different sort of story in a dystopian future. Both foes and allies, our heroes are simply trying to survive. It is interesting to follow along, but there is no real end goal to be reached.

Paulo Respighi

A story similar to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, in that it starts out with a gritty account of a post-nuclear war world where people in the Deathlands (most of the U.S.) scavenge and murder just to stay alive. But, rather than just tell that story, amazing technology shows up, then a crazy old geezer.

The characters were fairly well drawn, and the plot, though stretching credulity, at least didn't make everything tidy.


The setting is interesting but I didn't really buy into the idea that after a nuclear war people would just randomly kill each other rather than trying to band together to survive in some form. Not much happens and the writing isn't great either.

Leah A. Zeldes

A grim, grisly post-apocalypse story with an unpleasant view of humanity. A somewhat hopeful conclusion doesn't lighten things much.


Interesting story of the world after a nuclear holocaust. Its main characters are wanderers in a wasteland and survive scavenging and murdering other people. They have developed a culture on murder. Some people have survived that set up new societies based on technology and when these murderers come in contact with them get a story of savages trying to understand the new world. A little talky in the middle and end on the philosophy of being a murderer and their gradual conversion away from it, sort of like the story of mankind again. It is a good read enjoyed itl



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