Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Republic: A Novel of America's Future

In Republic: A Novel of America’s Future, Charles Sheehan-Miles offers a look at where America might be headed if the politicians in Washington continue to ignore the will of the people of this country. The book is largely an indictment against the Department of Homeland Security as that department was developed under the previous administration and it would have been scary enough if I had read it before the last national election. But, because things have only gotten worse under the present leadership, the book’s premise does not seem to be all that farfetched today, making it even more disturbing now than when it was first published.

The United States has suffered a terrorist attack and, as usual, innocent people have been slaughtered by the crazies amongst us. The Department of Homeland Security is determined to stop future attacks, be they from homegrown or from foreign sources, and will do whatever it deems necessary to achieve that goal. To make matters worse, the economy is suffering and the country is bleeding jobs to countries that can provide cheaper labor costs.

In one little West Virginia town, the manufacturing facility on which the town depends for its very existence has closed its doors forever, opting for some of that cheap foreign labor. When the locals decide to protest the losing of their jobs by occupying the facility, the military (along with a few hotheads from Homeland Security) is called in to remove them. Tempers flare, mistakes are made, and people are killed, ultimately leading to a statewide vote on West Virginia’s secession from the Union. The seemingly impossible happens, and West Virginia finds herself at war with the United States of America.

Sheehan-Miles tells his story from the viewpoints of those on both sides of the situation leading to war, including one unfortunate couple who find themselves fighting on different sides. Unlike the American Civil War of 1861-1865, this will be a short fight because the West Virginia National Guard has only enough ammunition and manpower to hold out for approximately 48 hours – if the state is very lucky. It will be up to politicians to negotiate a settlement before shots are fired. But these are typical politicians, after all, so what are the chances that cooler heads will prevail?

Republic is a thought provoking alternate history that is not as unlikely as one might believe at first glance. It is a solidly written story in which the dangers to this country from within are vividly illustrated – no happy endings to be had here.

Rated at: 4.0

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