American war by omar el akkad
American War by Omar El AkkadAn audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.
Analysis of American War by Omar El Akkad
It is set in a near-future United States of America , ravaged by climate change, in which a second Civil War has broken out over the use of fossil fuels. The story is told by Benjamin Chestnut about his aunt, Sarat Chestnut, and is told through narrative chapters interspersed with fictional primary documents collected by the narrator. The novel is told from the point of view of Sarat and her nephew, Benjamin.
Omar El Akkad
American War by Omar El Akkad review – terrorism in a future US
The year is The United States, its shorelines eaten away by mega-hurricanes and rising seas, has splintered apart. Mexico has reclaimed large swathes of the southwest. And the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, enraged by a governmental ban on fossil fuels, have seceded into a Free Southern State. At the center of the story is Sarat Chestnut, who is a young girl when the war breaks out but gradually comes to play a decisive role in its outcome.
It is a story that extrapolates the deep, partisan divisions that already plague American politics and looks at where those widening splits could lead. A story that maps the palpable consequences for the world of accelerating climate change and an unraveling United States. He demonstrates cool assurance at using details — many gathered, it seems, during his years as a reporter — to make his fictional future feel alarmingly real. And he writes here with boldness and audacity, using a collagelike method involving fictional news clippings, oral history excerpts, memoirs, government documents to help chronicle the events that led to and followed the Second American Civil War. Those events include escalating battles over the use of fossil fuel; the assassination of the United States president by a secessionist suicide bomber in ; horrifying drone attacks, massacres and guerrilla violence that further embitter both sides; and, just as the war is about to conclude in with a reunification ceremony, the release of a biological agent by a Southern terrorist that results in a decade-long plague claiming million lives. When the novel opens, the twin girls, Sarat and Dana, are 6; their brother, Simon, is 9. There they will remain for more than a half-dozen years.
This is one reason humanism regards art as sacred: it exists for its own sake. Other value systems, religious or political, might insist that art serve a theological or ideological cause, but the novel — in its origins a bourgeois enterprise — makes a poor missionary or soldier. The uniforms fit badly and it keeps flunking basic training. Set in the late 21st century, the novel imagines an America wrecked by war and the flooding brought on by climate change. Its heroine, Sarat Chestnutt, grows up in a shack by the Mississippi, in a Louisiana eaten away by the rising Gulf of Mexico. A handful of southern states, refusing to abide by federal laws prohibiting the use of fossil fuels, have attempted to secede from the union, setting off a second civil war.