- Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Baen; Reprint edition (1 February 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671722069
- ISBN-13: 978-0671722067
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2 x 17.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 136 g
- Customer Reviews: 140 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 677,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Farnham's Freehold Mass Market Paperback – 1 February 1994
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From the Back Cover
But Farnham's small group had barely settled down to the back-breaking business of low-tech survival when they found that they were not alone after all. The same nuclear war that had catapulted Farnham two thousand years into the future had destroyed all civilization in the northern hemisphere. And the world had changed in more ways than one.
In the new world order, Farnham and his family, being members of the race that had nearly destroyed the world, were fit only to be slaves. After surviving a nuclear war, Farnham had no intention of being anybody's slave, but the tyrannical power of the Chosen Race reached throughout the world. Even if he managed to escape, where could he run to...?
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Top international reviews
Written at the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, Heinlein pulls no punches. This book is certainly NOT politically correct! However, it is also NOT intentionally politically incorrect. Rather, the story envisages a future scenario in which 20th Century whites (along with their black household servant, Joe) encounter a society even more interested in skin color than that of their own time. I'm not going to summarize the story as that has been done elsewhere and it's vastly more interesting to read it yourself!
In short though, "Farnham's Freehold" is kind of a post-apocalyptic Swiss Family Robinson meets a high tech, near-feudal dystopian society in which those of darker complexion are considered The Chosen while "whites" are treated as slaves as well as dinner. The destruction of the Northern Hemisphere has allowed the evolution of a dark-skin dominant society based on some tenets of the Koran, which is both decadent and highly intelligent, yet lacking in other areas (such as the idea of "fun", especially via card games such as Bridge as well as Scrabble, Monopoly etc., etc as well as physical sports such as golf, baseball, etc.). This future society is absolutely fascinating, however, uncomfortable.
The novel begins as a early counter-culture survivalist tale of Hugh Farnham and his family attempting to survive in a strangely very hospitable (the reason for this is explained once the Farnham's, et al, encounter The Lord Protector and are brought to his palace compound) post-nuclear exchange environment. The second half of the novel deals with the interaction between the "savages" (Farnham, et al) from the past and the newly evolved society as represented by the characters of Ponse, the Lord Protector and his household supervisor Memtok.
In the end the book is often quite funny. It is also often quite disturbing. While Heinlein may not have succeeded in solving the issue of "race" in 300 pages, he leaves the reader (of any color) MUCH to ponder. Sadly, "Farnham's Freehold" was met with much critical displeasure and reviewed very harshly causing many to overlook this classic. The novel is as relevant today as it was in 1964 if not more so....
There will always be controversy surrounding "Farnham's Freehold" as some read motives into Heinlein's writing which may or may not have truly been present. For myself, I walked away feeling that Heinlein had quite blatantly spoke of his disdain for both the idea of "race" and those who behave as bigots. The idea of the free man, regardless of skin color, is pervasive throughout the novel. I hope "Farnham's Freehold" receives a reappraisal 50+ years after its initial release, as it is a thoroughly unique and classic piece of sci-fi and satire from one of the undisputed masters of the form.
I first read this book when I was sixteen, just after it was first published. I'm now seventy.
The first time, there was much I didn't quite understand because of my youth. I had no experience with Bridge. My family tended toward Hearts and Pinochle.
While there is much use of perjoritives of the black race (the N-word) it didn't seem so egregious then as it did now. Proof that time and social consciousness change.
The story hinges around Hugh Farnum, his wife, Grace; their daughter, Karen; her close friend from college, Barbara; their son, Duke and their black house servant, Joseph.
When it appears that nuclear war is imminent, the group head for their fallout shelter in the basement.
The bombs fall on their neighborhood and the shelter is shaken severely. Days later, when they finally manage to leave the shelter, the find not the ruined remains of their town, but green rolling hills with tall pine trees, a stream and wildlife galore.
The work and other events come fast and furious for the group. Their personalities become more prominent than their former society allowed. Prejudices come to the fore and conflicts arise between father and son. Joseph, rather than being accepted as an equal member of the group, still faces prejudice from Duke and Grace, even though Joe is as polite and unassuming as a person of any race could be.
Eventually, they determine that the last bomb tossed the shelter and this group of humanity, 2000 years into the future. What does the future hold? Just know that it's not boring!
I really liked this book when I was sixteen and I love it now that I understand everything that's going on. Read this Classic of Science Fiction and learn why Robert A Heinlein is considered a master of his craft!
This book suggests a nuclear exchange throwing the bomb-shelter survivors forward a few centuries in time but not place. The book is loaded up with the kinds of details survivalists love about engineering jerry-rigging and how-tos, and defensive preparations and so forth. Its also got the usual Heinlein sex and discipline and authoritarian stuff. It has certain unexpected twists however which make it a more interesting read than many of the other survivalist stuff I have read.
I wouldn't rate it at the level of literature but it beats the hell out of most post-apocalyptics for enjoyment in reading. I recommend it to the "preppers" of today wholeheartedly and to Heinlein fans as well.