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The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition Hardcover – Unabridged, May 1, 1990
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Doubleday; 1st edition (May 1, 1990)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 1152 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385199570
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385199575
- Lexile measure : 840L
- Item Weight : 3.47 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.4 x 2.33 x 9.55 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I won't give away anything, I'll only say take your time and enjoy the ride with King's epic. I loved every word.
By T. Hix on August 6, 2018
The current situation is unnervingly similar to the story I just finished re-reading for the umpteenth time. Thankfully Covid-19 isn't a constantly mutating virus like Project Blue aka Captain Trips which had a almost total mortality rate. The book starts with an experimental manmade virus in a secret government installation on a military base accidentally exposed and unfortunately for the world a sentry manages to escape thanks to a delay in the system that is supposed to completely lock down the entire base and keep the infected area contained. He grabs his wife and baby and runs for it. Unfortunately, he had already been infected and it only takes seconds for the virus to be passed along. He crashes into a gas station in East Texas and passes the virus to the small group of men hanging out there. That starts the beginning of the end of almost the entire world. The story then deals with that situation and it's aftermath. Good & Evil duke it out for pitifully small remaining survivors. You will not be able to quit reading until the end of this nail-biter. Enjoy the ride, I do every time I read it!
It's totally engrossing, and very interesting in enough different ways that you just don't get tired of working your way through all those damn pages. A great premise, great plot development, interesting and believable characters, and a scope that constantly reminds how transient we all are. Great stuff that got ME so involved that when I went to hospital for a relatively normal visit, I was ACUTELY aware of everyone who coughed or sneezed, and though I snickered at myself almost immediately for my temporary transportation from reality to plot, the snicker wasn't quite as immediately convincing as it might have been. So, yeah, it was THAT engrossing.
Top reviews from other countries
So as regards a review, I'm going to rip off the synopsis from Stephen king.com
One man escapes from a biological weapon facility after an accident, carrying with him the deadly virus known as Captain Tripps, a rapidly mutating flu that - in the ensuing weeks - wipes out most of the world's population. In the aftermath, survivors choose between following an elderly black woman to Boulder or the dark man, Randall Flagg, who has set up his command post in Las Vegas. The two factions prepare for a confrontation between the forces of good and evil
Go ahead and read it, if you like it, welcome to the throng of millions who also like it.
If you dont like it, well - maybe the best in the genre is not for you, try Swan Song by Robert R McCammon, similiar plot , characters and timeframe, or Earth Abides by George R Stewart written in 1948 - a gentler take on the theme .
Sorry, why am I writing a review now, borrowed out my dog eared copy of the complete and uncut edition to God knows who, was enraptured to learn the Kindle version is that version, so my 15th and subsequent rereads will be on my Kindle from now on.
The book tells the story of the end of the human race as we know it, brought about by a deadly flu strain, developed by the US military. The social science is a bit simplistic but the quality of the storytelling and character development are both excellent.
Unusually for a Stephen King book, The Stand was not too scary for me to read at bedtime, but this did not detract at all from the suspense. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, and I feel like it tuned right in to my own fears about the future of humanity.
Maybe a few politicians ought to read this and then gave a long, hard think...before it’s too late!
His first three published novels had been hard-core horror novels, all three contemplating his status as the King of Horror. King’s next novel would be a change of pace. It would still include elements of the horror genre, a genre in which he had spent his entire life surrounded by, even as a child, but his next novel would also have elements of science fiction and would actually become a sociological look at the human race. But first, he would have to kill them all.
On the heels of the Shining, King had been inspired by the Patty Hearst case (a case that involved both kidnapping and terrorism), to write a novel surrounding these events, but not long into the novel, he gave up, after having seen on the news, a chemical spill that had happened in Utah. Not long after this, King’s mind started working overtime and he came up with a novel about something similar that would wipe out the human race, allowing only a few remaining characters to be left behind and deal with the tragic events that had been enforced upon them. Wanting to write an epic on par with Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, King went about creating a vast landscape in which he left nothing out, allowed nothing to bypass the story – this would become the ultimate epic novel.
The Stand begins with this primary thought. The basic premise of the novel is that a government research facility, after having spent time creating a super flu bug (Captain Trips as it is known in the novel) to be used in biological warfare, is accidently released on to the base. Everybody dies except for one man, Charles Campion, a security guard, who grabs his family and evacuates that base, heading across Northern America, unaware that he has the flu like virus, infecting everyone he comes into contact to. So King weaves out his tale, introducing us to a multitude of characters, some good, some bad, showing us the effects of Campion’s actions, watching minor characters contract the flu, watching them suffer through the eyes of our main characters, all of diverse backgrounds. King is clever in letting us see how the virus takes hold, how it acts as a chain mail across all of America, letting us get to know the characters, watch the human race become extinguished through their eyes, letting us see their pain, letting us get attached to them so that we can go on the journey that they will inevitably have to take.
King is a genius at creating a wide variety of characters, and not since Dickens, has any writer ever managed to capture a whole society of characters that all can be identified by the reader. Of the good, there is Stu Redman (an everyman from East Texas, the main character pretty much of this large epic), Fran Goldsmith (a young pregnant girl from Maine, who becomes one of the main heroines of the piece), Larry Underwood (a singer from New York), Nick Andros (a deaf mute who passes through Shoyo, Arkansas), Glenn Bateman (a retired college professor that taught sociology and is one of the characters that King uses to speak his own thoughts on society and bring about theories of what will likely happen now that over 99% of the world’s population is dead), Tom Cullen (a man who is more like a boy due to a very low IQ. He develops a great relationship with Nick, learning new things through Nick’s teaching. He spells every word M-O-O-N), Ralph Bretner (a farmer who always seems to see the lightness in everything, never thinking himself superior to anyone, he ends up becoming one of the main heroes of the peace) and Mother Abigail (a 108 year old from Nebraska, who still makes her own biscuit. The main characters dream of her, using her as a guiding force of help along the way. She is a prophet of God and for a short while leads them until letting them make it on their own). There are also plenty of main characters who are on the side of evil: Lloyd Henried (a killer/robber who ends up in prison as Captain Trips spreads across America, being left to die until he is saved by his new leader), Harold Lauder (a friend of Fran’s. Before the flu hit, Harold was the butt of jokes, hated by everyone, even his own parents. He has a crush on Fran and loves her, and becomes jealous and full of hate when she revokes this love and ends up with another of the main characters instead), Nadine Cross (a school teacher who has visions of the Dark Man, visions that they would become lovers and eventually married. She loves Larry also, but can’t allow herself to act upon this love as her heart and mind belongs to the Dark Man), the Trashcan Man (a psychopath who has developed an obsession of burning everything in his path. He is one of King’s most interesting and memorable characters. His loyalty to the Dark Man knows no bounds “my life for you”, yet he ends up becoming something of an anti-hero), Randall Flagg (the Dark Man, the Prince of Evil, the antithesis of Mother Abigail, he is gathering his troops to Las Vegas and trying to create an army that will eventually wipe out those that stand against him. He is one of the greatest villains in the King universe and has appeared in more than one of his novels).
Had this been a book written by any other writer, the premise of the novel would probably have been the characters get together, stand against the Dark Man and his minions and save the day. But this is a King novel, a novel of epic proportions. We don’t just see the Stand that will ultimately take place, we see a large cast of characters coming together, creating a new world together, creating a new life together and King shows every single point of this. The world building in this novel is fantastic, on par with the greatest of fantasy novels (including Tolkien). You really get to know the characters, to love them and hate them, feeling like they have become a part of your family. You feel enriched by them, allowing yourself to be taken on this journey with them, fighting for your own survival as well as theirs.
When King first wrote this back in 1978 and sent it to his publishers, they were shocked by the size and scope of the novel. They replied back to him, saying they would have to cut the book by about four hundred pages in order to sell it. King was distraught by this, but as he was still establishing himself as a bestselling writer, he felt he had no choice but to succumb to Doubleday’s wishes and so he himself cut over four hundred pages out of the book, missing out a lot of what made the book very important. The Stand was eventually published in 1978 and quickly went on to become King’s masterpiece, the book all fans seemed to love and say was his best. King has actually gone on record as saying “to some fans, I could have written nothing after The Stand, and they wouldn’t have cared.”
Fast forward to 1991 – King was toying around with the idea of releasing The Stand as it was originally intended. After receiving permission from Doubleday to go ahead with this idea, King began working on an updated version of The Stand, changing the premise of the book from the late seventies into the early nineties, including new background like HIV/Aids, changing the sociological background of the characters, without allowing them to change in anyway. As he says in his forward to the new version, “you won’t find the characters behaving any differently or going down roads and on journeys that they never went on before”. It was the same story but it was bigger and it was allowed to become complete. And so The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition was released in 1991 and this is the version fans say is the one to read. Not having read the original edition, I can only go on hearsay that this is the version that is far superior and much more enjoyable. This is the one I have read four times.
Is The Stand King’s greatest book? In my opinion, it isn’t. As far as I’m concerned, King would go on to write even greater books, but this is definitely one of his most memorable, most exciting works. It is also, along with The Dark Tower series, the one book that seems to have a lot of fans in such diverse thought – some say it is a book that is a work of genius, an epic masterpiece that flows high on every level (I am of this thought) and some say it is too long, not worth the hype, boring and they couldn’t get through it. Whatever your way of thinking becomes, it is most certainly a book you have to read at least once in your lifetime. Despite its length, I would go on to say that it is a perfect place to start for readers just getting into King. It includes all the elements that make him one of the greatest writers of all time – fantastic, realistic characters, a great premise of a story, writing that takes you in, grabs you and doesn’t let you go, and great world building that allows you to feel that you are actually there with the characters, going along with them for the journey.
While this book is not my all-time favourite of King’s (that says more about the brilliance of his future works than about this actual novel), it is definitely in my top ten and one I enjoy coming back to again and again. For me this really is the perfect five.
So if you want to be entertained with a story that has meaning then read on. Even if you don’t like anything else by the author (unlikely I know) then this one is worth it.