Read level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald Online


Notes: * Signet T5011 - no ISBN * Copyright date 1959 * Copyright page indicates this is the seventh printing without referencing the specific date. * 75-cent cover price would suggest a printing date in the late 60's or early 70's....

Title : level 7
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 10764685
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 143 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

level 7 Reviews

  • Erik Graff
    2019-05-01 17:02

    I read this book during the 1961 Berlin crisis while still in primary school. Science fiction was already an addiction and I'd put away a book or two a day when school wasn't in session. Politics was also of interest since Dad had been a vocal supporter of Kennedy against Nixon the previous year as well as active in community affairs. Indeed, he took me to village board meetings, encouraging my interest in public affairs and reading of the newspaper.The Berlin crisis had lasted from the previous spring and had resulted in the erection of the wall dividing the city and daily newspaper reports. I recall being frightened by one headline about imminent war in particular. Although fascinated by things military, the idea of actual warfare terrified me, particularly in light of the thermonuclear capacities of powers engaged. On at least one occasion I recall having run to Mother, crying.Level 7 was probably obtained at the nearest library, out in East Dundee, Illinois. It had everything: military stuff and politics in a science fiction wrapper--a sure thing. It scared the shit out of me.Sometimes I've marveled at how kids seem to enjoy horror stories, how modern kids I know gravitate to horror films. For me, the horror was contemporary politics.It still is.

  • Veeral
    2019-05-21 18:29

    ***Review below contains some spoilers.***Bleak. With no chance of redemption whatsoever. If you like happy endings, you might want to stay away from this book. This book is quiet similar to On the Beach and Alas, Babylon, both in the era in which they were published and the primary subject matter with which they deal: nuclear apocalypse. While I personally found On the Beach totally unimpressive and a drag, Alas, Babylon became one of my favorite novels. So where does "Level 7" stand? Well, while it may not become one of my favorites, it comes very close to being one. I found it scientifically more accurate than "Alas, Babylon" and "On The Beach". But in one department, "Level 7" truly is way better than both these classics. And that is: Depicting Human Psychology about War. Roshwald has described the human psychology about war with total (and so, quite discomfiting) accuracy, which is the most unsettling as well as interesting aspect of the book.There are no names. No names at all. Enemy is called just the "enemy" and allies "allies". Even people living in the bunker are not known by what might be their original names. For example, the protagonist is known only as X-127 from whose personal diary "Level 7" takes form. He lives in a bunker named "Level 7" with 500 people which is 4400 feet underground. He is a "Push-Button" officer, the one that pushes buttons to launch nuclear missiles and annihilate the world when such orders are received. This book is a scathing satire on war and the mentality which prevailed especially during the Cold War era.A must read for anyone who liked books such as Alas, Babylon and even dystopian classics like 1984 and Brave New World, as apart from the apocalyptic scenario, there is also a strong dystopian feel to "Level 7".4.65 Stars.

  • Diana Welsch
    2019-05-23 18:13

    Level 7 is the tale of a military man who lives in a bunker 4,400 feet below the surface of the earth. His job is to sit in a room and wait for the command to push a series of buttons which will unleash complete nuclear destruction on the earth. He is not told why he is to go into the bunker beforehand, and when he gets there he finds out that he must spend the rest of his life there.He's not the only one down there. There are two more people like him who wait in shifts for the command to come. Then, there is an army of nurses to care for their physical needs, scientists who keep the air flowing, psychologists to pooh-pooh the worries of those who miss fresh air and sunshine.Level 7 takes the form of this man's diary, the only thing that keeps him sane in this unbelievable situation. You never learn his name or the country of his citizenship.When the day of horror finally arrives, our man records the events and his thoughts and feelings, and he later discovers that the truth about this war is more horrifying and depressing than he had previously imagined.This book might give you nightmares. However, it is just barely Cold-War-Era dated and far-fetched enough to not be as scary or depressing as it could be. It's insanely memorable and I recommend it to everyone I know who likes nuclear war stories, but I had to subtract a star for its sexist, dated attitude towards women.

  • John Walsh
    2019-04-25 19:26

    This is one of those books that rewards patient reading--its cumulative power is immense. We follow the diary of a man who lives on Level 7 of a bunker where the best and brightest go in a kind of experiment to see how humans would endure extended life in isolation after a nuclear holocaust. The details of day to day life are interesting enough, but the book's best aspect is the growing sense of dread that our protagonist will have to do his duty in case of war. Once he does this simple, unremarkable act, his life in the bunker is, literally, without purpose, and he and the reader await the end of the war above. But things don't go as expected.In my collection of favorite post-apocalypse novels, EARTH ABIDES, ALAS BABYLON, and A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOVITZ are now joined by LEVEL 7. It may not be as richly-written as EARTH or CANTICLE, but in its stripped-down simplicity it has great emotional impact. It is a fine fictional warning about what might await those who are 'lucky' enough to survive a first strike.

  • Manny
    2019-04-27 16:01

    "I am the god who pushed the buttons," says the narrator, a dull nuclear weapons technician who happens to be the proximate cause of starting World War III. Later, he apologizes for this atypical and unprofessional lapse into poetry.

  • Claudia
    2019-04-29 13:14

    A deeply sarcastic dystopian novel regarding the stupidity of nuclear weapons, decisions behind and behaviour of people involved. However, I have found the characters and writing too dull to empathize with the enormity of the act.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-16 14:15

    I'm not sure where this book would rank on my list if I re-read it now - but it left an indelible mark on the mind of my twelve-year-old self. Aside from weeks of nightmares about an atomic war, it’s influenced my opinion of every other post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read since . . . usually to their detriment, as none of them ever hit me emotionally in quite the same way.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-09 16:29

    Ever since reading "Survivor Type" by Stephen King at what was most likely too young of an age, I've been a sucker for the whole writing-a-diary-while-going-mad genre. If you're willing to suspend the disbelief required of the best examples of this writing, i.e., how on earth are you still writing stuff down when you're insane?, then it can be a real treat, as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, this book is not a shining example of the crazy diarist. Although the initial premise is quite exciting, the execution is more dull than anything. X-107 or X-117 or whatever his name is descends into a bunker 400 miles underground to wait for an inevitable nuclear war & writes quite banally about his predicament. Luckily, a helpful overhead voice breaks down the different levels of confinement from 7 on up and the people who'll be stuck there, so he transcribes that to mind-numbing effect. No one has a name, only a number, and while I get that this is probably a plot device to show how cruelly inhuman the military can be, it basically serves to make it impossible to remember who is who or forge any human connection with anyone. (view spoiler)[Then an unintentionally (surely) hilarious interlude once all the "buttons" are pushed and the world has been destroyed by nuclear weapons; both sides, us and our enemies, get on radios from their respective underground holes & yell at each other for starting things. "We fired at you just because you fired at us!" "But we fired at you because you fired back!" and so forth. Luckily, towards the end, everyone starts dying as each level becomes contaminated with radiation. X-10-whatever becomes the last man on earth, continues keeping his diary, and the last 15 or so pages are really pretty macabre. It's no "Survivor Type", though. (hide spoiler)]

  • Marcele
    2019-05-10 21:08

    This book provides so much food for thought. It's incredible how humanity have to destroy what they have on the hope that they,will win something completely desnecessary.

  • Michael Scott
    2019-05-18 20:10

    Level 7 is the story of an atomic war, and of the post-apocalyptic world briefly succeeding it. Written at the start of the race for nuclear domination, in plain Cold War's mid-1950s, Mordecai Roshwald 's book was aimed to be a deterrent to atomic weapons and related politics. Overall, a frightening book that reads poorly; had it not been for the topic, a solid 1-star.The plot is simplistic--the two world super-powers have both acquired nuclear bombs sufficient to wipe each other out. When the trio military, politicians, and technology experts realize that a second-strike policy (that is, a policy of being able to strike back after a nation's own annihilation, for example by launching a retaliatory and equally annihilating attack coordinated from an impenetrable bunker) is technically feasible, both nations act upon it and set up a set of automated tools. Only a few people are still needed to operate the infernal machine, perhaps to enable each country's leaders to override the automatic control, perhaps because it serves the author better. In any case, a hierarchy of bunkers is built, to host civilians, politicians, and military in case of nuclear attack from the opposite side, and, for a subset of the sheltered military, to retaliate with a devastating attack of their own. The military in charge of the retaliation are specially selected and psychologically trained to be capable of "pressing the button", the physical act of igniting thousands of atomic-bomb-carrying rockets through the push of one button. They are sequestered underground and wait for the order, which does not fail to arrive. The atomic war is fought and, as expected, lost by all sides. Powerful message transmitted: thou shalt not carry through a nuclear war!Mordecai also raises interesting philosophical questions, about the nature of the individual, about boredom, about the psychology of being imprisoned, about the notion of an enclosed utopian state, etc., but the book is short so the questions remain without proper answer. Unfortunately, the main anti-nuclear message is not compensated by either believable characters or reasonable writing. There is also a problem of the morals present in the book being outdated. The characters, besides being wooden in expression, lack believability - - always obeying orders although there is little stick, to the point where the reader can easily find the main actors as mere puppets. Where is the stick, when the place where the main action happens, Level 7, has been physically isolated from the rest of the world, for 500 years?! Why would the characters switch to calling each other by military names (such as X-107 or P-123)?! Where would such sociopaths be grown in the Western society?! Etc. In his 2003 preface, Roshwald discusses this aspect, claiming that the main actors are by design so inhumane. However, this explanation may explain the actions of his characters, but makes the story similar to the bad horror movies of the early 2000s, in which the viewer simply knows that the normal human response would have averted the danger. There is only one believable character, the neurotic X-107 who ignites three series of rockets but then refuses to press the button for the last and most destructive, but he has only an episodic appearance and is replaced without stopping the attack. The writing is terrible, for today's standards. The text moves slowly and does not seem to match the diary format. The constructs seem also outdated. To conclude: this is a book to read, but perhaps it should have been written as non-fiction, as a realistic what-if scenario. Read it this way and you may find it useful.

  • Miles
    2019-05-11 14:24

    Level 7 isn't truly a book that I just read. It's a book that I've just re-read, which is a bit different. With over 25 years since the first reading, however, my views and appreciation for the art intrinsic in the novel have changed a bit.First off, I should say that the copy I first read was without the preface found in my new copy. For first time readers I'd recommend reading that preface after the whole of the novel. It's rather heavy-handed in reinforcing the spin of the novel and rather ruins the ending for first-time readers.Level 7 is in diary format, the words and thoughts of push button officer X-127 as he lives in an underground shelter. The naming (or rather numbering) convention is clever in that it allows the reader to identify him with either of the superpowers of the cold war era.This was my first exposure to this sort of fiction, though I've read a great deal more in the intervening years. If you're a fan of the faux-utopian visions of Aldous Huxley, Yevgeny Zamyatin, or George Orwell, I'd recommend giving it a read. For the easily disturbed and those who need a happy ending, steer clear.

  • Brian
    2019-05-24 18:29

    What I found most disturbing about this novel was not the hopelessness of the Level 7 dwellers, buried thousands of feet beneath the earth, then assigned to annihilate humanity and continue living for 500 years. I suppose we've heard that story before and become dulled to the prospect of a fusion armageddon. I was more repelled by the personalities of the individuals on level 7. X-127 guesses that they must have all been chosen for their mission because they don't like others, and are all somewhat antisocial. Without any ties to the surface, the pushbutton officers can carry out their orders without hesitation. However, they also dislike the others within their own community, and are incapable of building real relationships on Level 7.This was a first novel, and lacks some polish and focus. However, it is worthwhile as a quick reading experience.

  • No
    2019-05-01 19:14

    This book starts off really good and grabs your attention right away, and it ends even better. Its basically about a man who is in training and gets promoted and taken 4,300 feet below ground to do his job, with a select group of other people. The earth is scorched due to nuclear war and the only survivors are those who went underground. The book is written in a diary format as the main character enters level 7 and all the way until the end. This is a must read if you ask me, great book... well written and very easy to read, i liked the writing style and loved the story beginning to end.

  • Dean Lombard
    2019-05-18 17:03

    Awesome book. Simply told, very powerful. I've been reading a whole lot of nuclear apocalypse-themed novels from the 50s and 60s lately and I reckon this takes the cake. It's beautifully written; the characters are distinctive and authentic despite being described so economically; the plot is brilliantly crafted and rings true; the psychology and sociology and politics and everything is just spot on. I really can't recommend it more highly. (I do recommend that you don't read the lengthy, scholarly introduction until you've read the book though, as it is full of spoilers.)

  • Kathleen Fowler
    2019-05-07 19:19

    I just finished reading Wool, another post-apocalyptic book about life underground, and decided it was time to read Level 7 again. About ten years ago my teenage son and I both read it and agreed it was quite good. Level 7 is written in the form of a diary. It is the diary of a military man who has been assigned to Level 7, a subterranean command post/bomb shelter that has been built to endure for 500 years if need be. The personnel who are “stationed” here are technicians, doctors, psychologists, teachers and other professionals qualified to keep this little microcosm functioning should the unthinkable happen. Needless to say, the unthinkable does happen. The order comes for X-127, author of the diary, button-pusher by training, to push the buttons that will launch the nuclear arsenal of his country, which remains unnamed, against the enemy, another unnamed superpower.This book was written in 1959 while I was being taught to “duck and cover” in the event of a nuclear attack. Right. I just learned online, to my surprise, that this training began in the early 50’s and continued until the late 80’s. Apparently the first proponent of this measure was a Hiroshima police officer, and it actually was effective enough that not a single Nagasaki police officer was killed in the intial blast there (according to Wikipedia, anyway). But I digress.Level 7 may be dated, but it is still a powerful indictment of the mentality that sees mutual assured destruction as a sensible deterrent to nuclear war. I can only imagine the impact of its message in the 50’s when it was originally published. In fact, I’m surprised it even was published, considering how subversive it must have appeared in light of the climate of paranoia that reigned at the time.

  • Patrick Gibson
    2019-05-20 18:01

    I am so glad this novel is now available in e-book form. I read it in high school, loved it, and have wanted to read it again. I’m sure that beat up library copy was out of print even then. What? I just noticed it was published in 1960. No wonder it was in crappy condition and smelled of mildew. I am even more impressed the story feels so 2011ish.The story is told in diary form, written by a missile technician only known as x-127. The story starts out as the solider x-127 and 250 other soldiers (men and women) head down deep into an underground bunker called Level 7. The bunker is an immense system of tunnels and rooms about 4000 ft underground. Room enough for the button pushers, engineers and scientist to continue our way of life after a nuclear holocaust strikes. The mood of the story is grim, as X-127 realizes that once he makes the descent down into Level 7, there is no turning back to the outside world. The government has deemed the soldiers in the bunker the saviors of our way of life. They have enough food, water, and air to last them 5 lifetimes. Well, eventually it gets to a point where a war breaks out. There are not descriptions of nuclear explosions, or fiery death raining down on the populace's heads. Instead the author portrays the war through the eyes of radar technicians and button pushers who only see blips on radar screens and are told via a loudspeaker on what buttons to push. After the totally destructive war, radiation spreads and wipes out life on the surface. A claustrophobic life in a bunker becomes stifling for X-127 has he watches and listens to his fellow soldiers start to loose it in a "not so" hermetically sealed bunker. This story is very sad, and chilling. The last paragraph of the story has to be the most riveting.

  • Michelle Kisner
    2019-05-03 21:03

    Very chilling book. I have always been obsessed with stories/films about nuclear holocaust. This is an older book, written during the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. As was common at that time, the story focuses on the absurdness of the concept of "Mutual Assured Destruction", wherein if two parties are engaging in nuclear war, both sides try to completely destroy the enemy even if they themselves have already been decimated.Level 7 revolves around a multi-level underground bunker that holds military personnel and civilians. The lowest level, Level 7, houses the main character X-127 who is a "button pusher". His job is to push the buttons that launch the nukes at the enemy if told to do so by his command. He and his fellow workers are told that they must live in the bunker forever and will never be able to return to the surface. The are given sterile names that coincide with their jobs and become very dehumanized.The book is written as if it is a diary kept by X-127 and records his eventual decent into despair and madness. The war happens with predictable results; total destruction of the human race. At first the underground levels are safe but the radiation slowly makes it way down, level by level. The end is sobering and ultimately futile.

  • Nawfal
    2019-04-25 15:11

    A little difficult to find a copy of this. This is a quick read, which surprised me. I expected a much worse novel, to be honest. I expected tedious preaching and vague droning. Instead, this is the novel that happens after all the faux-conundrums get asked. You know, "If you got paid a trillion dollars if you just pressed a button - but that button destroys so many people... would you do it?" This is that novel. Very clinical and scientific approach to the worst situation: mutual destruction via atomic weaponry. Two things about this book (and author) that make this an extremely good read: the details about the underground facility are worked out carefully and consistently, the argumentation to make the scenarios robust and logical is very well-written. Every aspect of this book is tightly wound around the horror of the atomic war. The novel hardly seems dated, which is rather eerie. Highly recommended for readers of Howey's Wool, nuclear war "fans," and vintage science fiction fans.

  • Derek
    2019-05-09 14:21

    The book reads like a twisted version of Plato's Republic - a dissertation on the sort of society and people required to commit and survive atomic armageddon. It is a coldly logical social structure inhabited by emotionally stunted human beings, whose purpose is to be the push-button operators for otherwise fully-automated weaponry, and later to continue the species.Parts border on parody. From their deep-hole bunkers, politicians spit vitriol upon their enemy counterparts, even after such chest beating becomes pointless.As a warning and social statement, it is something of a relic.

  • Jobjörn Folkesson
    2019-05-22 15:13

    Den här läste jag i skolan när vi läste engelska C - eller något i den stilen - istället för den egentligen ordinerade boken (som verkade svintråkig). Det var alltså uppemot 10 år sedan jag läste den, men den gjorde ändå ett starkt intryck. Det kan ha varit den första boken jag läst som handlade om Kärnvapenkriget. Ömsesidig total förgörelse som hotbild mot världen är en aning passé idag av flera skäl - mer akuta känns problem med t.ex. klimatförändringar eller antiobiotikaresistens - men jag vill nog ändå vidhålla att var och en som vill att kärnvapen ska existera är att betrakta som fiende till mänskligheten.

  • Shawn
    2019-05-03 14:27

    I struggled with whether to give this three or four stars. I settled on four because any novel written almost 55 years ago that feels this fresh and relevant is really quite remarkable. While reading, I found myself wishing that more detail had been given, and time devoted, to background and personal information about the characters, particularly the narrator. I suppose, however, that it was more effective to maintain the "nuclear war mentality" by not making it so much a human story as an inhumane one. Certainly thought provoking and worth reading.

  • Anthony
    2019-05-10 16:14

    "Livello 7" è il diario dell'ufficiale X-127, assegnato di guardia sul fondo del più profondo rifugio antiatomico.Quattromila metri sotto terra, il Livello 7 è stato costruito per sostenere attacchi atomici e garantire l'autosufficienza per cinquecento anni in caso di attacco nucleare.Le bombe atomiche esplodono, ma le cose forse non andranno come previsto...Questo potente romanzo distopico del 1959 rimane una delle più disperate visioni sulla guerra atomica.

  • Radu Stanculescu
    2019-05-21 19:06

    This is more apocalyptic than "post": a story about a level 7 "soldier" "commanding" the nation's nuclear arsenal. By the quotes you'll understand he's neither really a soldier, nor is he really commanding anything. The above-ground war is all very abstract for him, but his life and personality feel just as abstract to us: he's just a number, no longer human. He's part of the machine.

  • Sheehan
    2019-05-12 17:04

    Pretty straight-forward post-nuke serving of the everyman, the consummate serviceman, "cog-in-the-wheel." A pretty enjoyable treatment on the power of passivity, I think this might be a good preface to reading the Stranger (finish strong of course), both are heavy with the hand of hopelessness, resolved faith in the faithless, it's worth a read.

  • Helen
    2019-05-03 19:08

    I'm stuck between 3 or 4 stars for this one. I liked the book, but the dismissive, dated treatment of women put me off, for example: "Perhaps women are more self-sufficient than men (provided they have men) and less affected by environment"

  • Ilia
    2019-04-28 20:04

    Kind of wish I didn't read this book. Don't know what possessed me to keep reading it. Worst writing style I remember in a while. It is clear that the author was going for a kind of satire, setting up straw-man characters to poke fun at. Didn't work. Don't read it, really.

  • Raegan Butcher
    2019-04-27 20:25

    Grim and horrifying depiction of life in an underground bunker, waiting to unleash the missiles that will destroy the outside world, then doing just that and reaping the consequences. Written in first person diary form. Highly recommended.

  • Samu
    2019-05-15 20:12

    The incredible stupidity of the human race, in 200 pages or less. Nuclear war destroys humanity, or humanity destroys humanity through nuclear war. Hugh Howie must have gotten his inspiration for Silo from Mordecai Roshwald. Just read it.

  • Bill
    2019-05-12 20:29

    7 of 10 stars

  • Amanda
    2019-05-01 21:22

    Reads like an old school utopia novel -- the kind that's more explaining what the utopia's going to be like, rather than the kind with a... y'no, plot.