Brother in the Land
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
Brother in the Land is a 1984 post-apocalyptic novel by the British author Robert E. "Bob" Swindells. The plot follows the adventures of a teenage boy as he struggles to survive in the north of England after a nuclear war has devastated the country.
The narrative begins on a hillside, where the protagonist, Danny Lodge, encounters a man in a radiation suit, who confiscates his bike and orders him to return to his home town, the fictional Yorkshire town of Skipley. Arriving there, Danny finds the town in ruins, and learns that his family's shop has collapsed, killing his mother. His brother Ben and their father have survived, as they were in the cellar, which is used as a stockroom. With so much food in their stockroom, the Lodges have plenty to live on, but as the weeks pass, other people begin fighting over food. Shortly after the war, Danny meets a girl named Kim.
The local Commissioner issues an order that the injured and infirm are to be taken out of the town and placed at the roadside so they can be taken to hospital: this turns out to be front for his secret plan to kill off those who will be a burden. After a while, the Commissioner implements a system of food and fuel rationing, with severe penalties introduced for hoarding. The injured, elderly, and people who have been emotionally traumatised by the nuclear attack are given poisoned rations. Mr Lodge refuses to allow his stock to be used for this purpose and, though Danny and Ben register for ration cards, they only visit the local feeding centre once.
Presently, the Commissioner's men come to the shop and arrest Mr Lodge. The lorry bearing Mr Lodge explodes, killing everyone on board, and leaving Danny and Ben orphans. The brothers seek sanctuary at the home of Sam Branwell, a smallholder who, along with several other survivors, has formed a resistance movement called Masada, an acronym for "Movement to Arm Skipley Against Dictational Authority" and an allusion to the historic siege. Masada has the aim of overthrowing the Commissioner and preventing the creation of a feudal society; its other members include Keith Rhodes (who was responsible for blowing up the lorry), Danny's former P.E. teacher, and Kim.
The protagonists discover that a concentration camp has been erected on a farm outside of Skipley, with the remaining able-bodied population being used as slave labour under the Commissioner's rule. Members of Masada decide to step up their campaign of resistance, and launch a night raid on the camp. After a battle, the Commissioner is overthrown and Branwell is established as the new leader.
A number of locations in the book are based on real Yorkshire locations, with names changed.