1988 1st edition "First published in 1988 by Viking Penguin Inc." stated; Viking Penguin publishers, New York; Book Club Edition; hardbound in black boards with silver stamp lettering on spine; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good.
The Last Ship is a 1988 post-apocalyptic fiction novel written by William Brinkley. The Last Ship tells the story of a United States Navy guided missile destroyer, the fictional USS Nathan James (DDG-80), on patrol in the Barents Sea during a brief, full-scale nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. It details the ship's ensuing search for a new home for her crew.
The Last Ship was released as an eBook on November 27, 2013, published by Plume. A television series loosely based on the novel aired from 2014 to 2018 on the TNT network.
On December 21, without warning, Thomas, the captain of the U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Nathan James (DDG-80), receives authenticated orders to carry out a nuclear strike on the Soviet city of Orel and its nearby ICBM silos. The nuclear tipped Tomahawks are fired off in an emotionless, automated manner. Over a period of hours they watch them make landfall on radar, and listen as the radio stations from Orel go off the air. With the mission complete, they report back to their superiors, and a reply from the U.S. Navy comes through, ordering them to break with general orders in this situation (operating under which they would proceed to the North Sea), but the message garbles to gibberish towards the end without telling them what their new orders are. With one exception later in the book, this is the last official communication from the U.S. Navy that Nathan James ever receives.
While they can later surmise there must have been a series of major exchanges, as a simple, single exchange of 'counter-force' strikes would not account for the sheer scale of the fallout they later find, and they can also conclude other nuclear powers like India, Pakistan, etc. have also fired at each other, they never learn with certainty what led to the launches or the exact sequence of events.
Thomas then decides to head southward into the North Sea and then to the United Kingdom, in order to re-establish contact with friendly forces. The ship encounters dense clouds of radioactive smoke all around Great Britain, through which can be seen the ruins of Big Ben and London.
Lacking information, the ship sets off to scout the Mediterranean coastline counterclockwise from southern Italy to Gibraltar. Off the coast of Brittany the ship encounters a non-communicative submarine which tails them until the ship arrives off the destroyed Rock of Gibraltar, where it vanishes.
Nathan James continues to scout the Mediterranean coastline, finding only masses of people suffering from radiation sickness who have fled the chaos inland. Off the coast of France, Nathan James finds a luxury sailboat with the passengers apparently killed mid-meal, suggesting the use of a neutron bomb on a coastal city. The corpse of the ship's radioman is found deeper within, along with his limited report of areas hit with nuclear weapons, painting a bleak picture for Europe, the Soviet Union, and North America...