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A book by Stephen King.

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Making a Stand

  • Sep 16, 2009
Stephen King is one of the most successful writers in the world.  In terms of being an American author, he just might the MOST successful.  There's one book, however, his fans are constantly stating is his best... or at least among his best:  The Stand.  It's Stephen King's apocolyptic masterpiece.  The book was originally released in 1979, but it became so popular among fans, King gave them an expanded edition in 1990.  After having read both versions... I must say that for those curious: Get the extended edition.  It may be longer (and when I say longer, I'm not kidding, it's 400 pages longer) but it is the complete version.  It is the way the story was intended to be told.

The Stand takes place on a more global scale than it appears.  While we don't travel to other countries, we do learn about what has taken over the world.  A man escapes from an army base that was apparently doing some experiments.  When he does so he's badly sick and runs into a group of guys and infects them.  They eventually go off and infect others.  The disease begins to be known as Captain Trips.  And it's a superflu that eventually kills off 99% of the global population.  Those who survive were apparently immune.  But they'll eventually discover that they're unlucky to be alive.  Two groups eventually form.  One that heads off to Boulder, Colorado and another group that heads off to Las Vegas.  While one decides to try and revive civilization, the other is experimenting with danger.  What eventually unfolds is a battle for good and evil, in which our cast of characters will all have to make their stand.

One thing to get out of the way early... the novel was never short.  Even the original version published in 1979 was pretty long.  This is because King had an unusually large cast of characters.  And while juggling all these characters it's amazing that King is able to make us care for virtually all of them.  And in spite of it's large cast it's pretty well organized how he goes about.  The first chapter introduces us to Stuart Redman--our main hero in all of this.  The second chapter introduces us to Frannie before going back to Stu... so on and so forth.  It keeps us on our toes.

As is usual for Stephen King, The Stand takes a while before it really goes beneath the surface, but The Stand doesn't suffer from the same pacing problems.  The story almost hits the ground running.  it's divided into three parts, but it waste no time before going into the disease spreading across America--and the world.  I won't tell you the book is fast paced, only that it doesn't get too bogged down when it's pressing forward.  It's a lengthy story that I suppose King felt he still needed to tell at an appropriate pace.  There's such a large cast of characters, and it's amusing that within the novel the book manages to be more about them than the situation at hand. 

The Stand is often labeled as the best of Stephen King's work.  Even if you don't entirely agree, it's hard to deny that it's a great achievement that King hit early on in his career.  If there was anything that might hamper The Stand in anyway, it might be the ending.  King has almost always had a problem with endings.  Especially because he often has such an amusing climax.  The Stand is no different.  It doesn't detract from the book in anyway or ruin anything, it just feels a little incomplete.  Even the extended edition doesn't feel like the ending is fully recognized.  But the ride there is amazing.  King can sometimes do some very good endings.  Christine, Misery, Carrie, The Green Mile, Pet Semetary and Desperation are some of the books which come to mind.  But there are other times when his endings can feel a little less than awesome--despite some of those books being among his best.  This includes books such as Salem's Lot, The Shining and numerous short stories.  But at least King always makes it a point to make the ride worthwhile.  The Stand has one of the best rides you can think of in King's fiction.  It's the one Stephen King novel that perhaps every fan of his should experience at least once. 

It's a great read that is definitely recommended for Stephen King fans.  It's the one novel you have to read.

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September 18, 2009
Great write up! It has been some years since I read this book but I always catch the movie on cable. This had it all and I agree wholeheartedly with your review. Your review makes me want to read more novels again, and then I just end up reading this in Marvel's comic book form.
September 18, 2009
Truthfully, I've never been the biggest King fan, but this along with "The Shining" are masterpieces in every sense. Awesome job. I've been pondering doing a review for this book, but I'd need to reread it and do some research since I'm not all that familiar with King's inspiration and his basis for the book. Once again, great job. I commend you.
September 18, 2009
I agree This and THE SHINING are tops!
September 18, 2009
The inspiration for The Stand isn't as upfront as most of his other books.  He was partially inspired by the energy crisis of the 70's but more than that, I've read he was heavily inspired by Lord of the Rings.  He wanted to write a modern day epic set in America rather than middle earth.  There's an amusing story he has in Danse Macabre where he talks about the inspiration for it, and he also talks about how he was afraid he was going to die on the way to mailing it because it was so long and he spent so much time on that he was afraid something would happen to him before it got to see publication.

But even more amusing is that The Stand almost never got finished because King ran into writers block while he was working on it.  At some point he came to a moment where he wasn't so sure just where it was supposed to go.  He said that if he hadn't already written more than 500 pages he might've actually abandoned it.  While he was out for a walk he finally got something.  This next part contains spoilers for those who haven't read the book:

He got the idea of a bomb.  King said the reason he felt he was losing his book was because it was becoming overpopulated, and the answer ended up being blowing nearly half his cast away.  It also allowed him to really emphasize a theme.  In a way, King thought, it was kind of like a message from God saying something along the lines, "I didn't bring you all here so you could start the same old shit!"  After that the rest of the story was written in about 16 weeks.  He recounts this in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (I'd recommend every King fan read that book at least once).  So there's actually quite a bit of amusing history behind the book itself.
September 19, 2009
Damn, I think I've found someone who does as much research as me. LOL! Scary... ; )
More The Stand reviews
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
It's a thousand-plus page challenge, this uncut edition... ultimately, however, it's worth it. If you're going to end the world in order to play out a final game of good vs. evil, you need to spend time racking up the characters and loading the scorecards. King shoots the moon and makes it.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
The original uncut version of this book is one of the most epic, amazing stories I've ever encountered.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
If you love Stephen King,you will really get into this one and the movie was great.
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Classic King.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
real it three times...always cool
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
The first Stephen King book that I read and still my favorite
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
my least favorite of king's books, way too long
Quick Tip by . June 09, 2010
The Stand is really a great book and I enjoyed it more than any of Stephen King's books, however, even King himself admits that on every book, he just can't seem to end the book so he over-writes and over-writes until his stories are huge. This is no exception. Just be prepared to wade through a lot of pages that sometimes seem to be unnecessary. The story is worth it!
review by . December 18, 2009
A virus known as Captain Trips is accidentally released from a US government military base.  A SNAFU occurs when a soldier flees along with his wife and child before the base can go on isolated lock down. This highly viral contagion spreads like wildfire throughout the entire population.  With a 99.9% fatality rate, only a few bewildered survivors are left to deal with two leaders.  One is a benevolent elderly black woman who represents good and the kindness in our hearts.  The …
review by . May 14, 2009
Before reading this book, you should read Earth Abides. That book is similar in that it deals with a band of survivors after a world holocaust. That book had great characters and interesting plot. This book goes way beyond and has a long laundry list of interesting and memorable characters (laws yes!). Don't be intimidated by the sheer size of the book. The book wastes no page and even people that get wiped out at the beginning of the book from the super virus, are interesting. I never zipped through …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this book


In 1978, science fiction writer Spider Robinson wrote a scathing review ofThe Standin which he exhorted his readers to grab strangers in bookstores and beg them not to buy it.

The Stand is like that. You either love it or hate it, but you can't ignore it. Stephen King's most popular book, according to polls of his fans, is an end-of-the-world scenario: a rapidly mutating flu virus is accidentally released from a U.S. military facility and wipes out 99 and 44/100 percent of the world's population, thus setting the stage for an apocalyptic confrontation between Good and Evil.

"I love to burn things up," King says. "It's the werewolf in me, I guess.... The Stand was particularly fulfilling, because there I got a chance to scrub the whole human race, and man, it was fun! ... Much of the compulsive, driven feeling I had while I worked on The Stand came from the vicarious thrill of imagining an entire entrenched social order destroyed in one stroke."

There is much to admire in The Stand: the vivid thumbnail sketches with which King populates a whole landscape with dozens of believable characters; the deep sense of nostalgia for things left behind; the way it subverts our sense of reality by showing us a world we find familiar, then flipping it over to reveal the darkness underneath. Anyone who wants to know, or claims to know, the heart of the American experience needs to read this book. --Fiona Webster

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ISBN-10: 0385199570
ISBN-13: 978-0385199575
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror, Apocalypse, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
Date Published: 1978
Format: Hardcover
Polls with this book
1984 (British first edition)

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