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A State of Disobedience Mass Market Paperback – 1 August 2005
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In the long war against terrorism, the US Government had taken on extraordinary powers. And now that the war was won, powerful forces in the government had no intention of relinquishing those powers. As in 1860, the country was on the verge of civil war. And as in 1860, a leader arose to save the country-but it was not the President this time. Instead, the Governor of Texas was the woman of destiny. . . .
About the Author
- Publisher : Baen; Reprint edition (1 August 2005)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0743499204
- ISBN-13 : 978-0743499200
- Dimensions : 10.64 x 3.05 x 17.15 cm
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If you can read though the first few chapters - better yet, just read the 'interludes' - you'll find a reasonably interesting novel with many plot twists. The book hypothesizes an overreaching federal government caught in the grips of an evil, liberal and female president determined to (forcibly, if necessary) implement a repressive version of the Democratic Party's agenda. Anti-abortion activities in Texas lead to the murder by federal law enforcement of a catholic priest and scores of orphaned children living in his mission.
The (Democratic) Governor of Texas resolves to peacefully resist the abuse of federal power, despite the fact that the dead catholic priest was her brother. Unconstrained by the governor's scruples, the president responds with massive force. The mismatch in military force available to the combatants yields an absolutely fascinating analysis of civil disobedience and resistance techniques drawn from sources as diverse as the civil rights movement, the Vietcong and the early 19th century Texas fight for independence from Mexico.
That said, I don't think that the author covered enough ground. We are told about attempts to introduce impeachment legislation as a throwaway line, and then we never hear any more about it. Further, everyone on the Texan side claims that there is a serious mismatch in military force, but the bad side believes that a quick invasion of Texas is military impossible quickly - the Texans, it seems, are better equipped than the immediately available regular army units. The rest, it seems, are in Germany (why?) and the Middle East. Further, civil disobedience in the surrounding states makes it hard for the bad guys to send supplies through their territory, when the US has a massive air transportation system. Given the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, I see no reason why the Feds could not ship supplies via the air - flimsy excuses about the reliability of the USAF do not cut it.
Along similar lines, what happens in the Middle East (apparently an American protectorate) and elsewhere while the US has problems? Might the rebels not receive support from outside?
One of the books major problems is that it features characters that would be interesting in their own right - although how believable is another matter - but stand as caricatures of American political figures. Hilary Clinton is the one most reviewers have pointed at, but someone called Janet Reno is also caricatured. Worse, the good guys are mainly American patriots - it would be nice to see someone who had other motives (escape from the feds for drug offences, perhaps?) on the 'good' side. And what was the North Vietnamese doing in the plot anyway? He should have been long dead (book takes place in 2060, Vietnamese War ended in 1975, do the math Tom.)
The author either dislikes lesbians or is seeking to shock people. The subplot of the president's relationship with her army commander (also female) is unnecessary and adds little, not even a steamy scene, to the plot.
The book does have some very dramatic scenes. The president's speech to the new constitutionals convention and her subsequent death are very tense and uncertain. The reader is reminded of the death of JFK, but few real heartstrings are pulled for the reader - by the last pages everyone is convinced that she has as much right to live as Hitler. Hitler, at least, was fairly honest about his plans for the future.
I am no expert in US politics, so I won't comment on the likelihood of this situation developing or the amendments made to the constitution at the end of the book. What I will say is that the president, Wilhelmina Rottemeyer, might well be right when she says, at the end, that no matter how they try, they'll fall back into the same trap again and again. The heroine responds that that might not be a bad thing - America can handle a revolution once in a while. I consider the first attitude to be defeatist and short-sighted and the second to be irresponsible. Americans may or may not disagree.
From me, the book gets three stars out of five. Good points: interesting plot. Dramatic Outcome. Good overall view. Bad Points: Seriously bad writing in places (and in the wrong place too). Too short in places. No international aspect beyond Chinese arms deliveries. No really final resolution. Characters caricatures instead of real people.
Very generic and weak characterizations. This reads like something that would have been written by one of the PR flunkies from the most recent Republican administration. If you want to get a better grasp of his personal views, you should check out Kratman's personal website. I guess it's nice that he personally won the War on Terror.
If you enjoy wearing your MAGA hat and are a member of the National Fascist Party (aka the Republican Party), then you might like this novel. Otherwise, give it a pass.