American War

American War

A Novel

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
18
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Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

A Globe and Mail Best Book

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

A Quill & Quire Best Book of 2017

An 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, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past -- his family's role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, [2017]
ISBN: 9780771009419
9780771009396
Branch Call Number: ELAK
Characteristics: 333 pages ; 25 cm

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SCL_Justin Sep 06, 2017

American War does a good job of dealing with how conflict damages people, from refugee camps to soldiers to peacetime survivors. The civil war based on who will abandon the technologies that are destroying the planet is grimly believable, and the prison camp torture is even more real. I appreciat... Read More »

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SCL_Tricia Aug 21, 2017

A great cli-fi read. Unfortunately with recent world events it is easy to imagine this book being a crystal ball into the future of civil war in America. A book about war that focuses on the people that are trying to deal with the world that has ultimately been shaped by it. I enjoyed that the a... Read More »


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liljables Feb 23, 2018

In an attempt to read the Canada Reads 2018 shortlist before the debates air at the end of March (good luck with that, right?), I picked up American War, the contender that had most piqued my interest. I think American War is an important but difficult book for one main reason: it is utterly, terrifyingly believable. Given the state of...everything in 2018, the narrative written by first time novelist Omar El Akkad feels like a "when, not if" scenario for our neighbours to the south. Like many CR heavy-hitters before it, I think the more sensitive readers among us may pass over American War, but if you can stomach it, I urge you to pick up this book.

tmscherbel Feb 09, 2018

This was one of my favorite books of the year. Very gripping characters and thought-provoking narrative of human nature and sociological dynamics in a dystopian novel in a future America impacted by climate change

BPLpicks Jan 30, 2018

On the shortlist for Canada Reads. Watch the battle of the books from March 26-29.

t
Tdruid
Nov 15, 2017

This is an extremely unpleasant book about thoroughly unlikable people. Nothing but bigotry & self-righteousness. The characters were so vile, I not only didn't care about them, I didn't want them to succeed. Most horrifying - it could actually happen. And that's the only reason I would recommend reading it - as a warning.

r
richibi
Nov 05, 2017

to have a 12-year-old girl, a child, a prepubescent, fall into a river of sewage, on a dare even, and come out crusted from head to toe, covered in its polluted effluents, then after a shower, return to perfect and vigorous health, only slightly frazzled, was not only utterly implausible to me, and unnecessary, but also repugnant as a literary plot device, even in an apocalyptic novel - I couldn't read on after that for fear of being confronted with other imaginary depravities

b
blue_cat_11505
Sep 23, 2017

I found this to be a generally pleasing read as well as an outstanding work of literature

AL_MARINA Sep 18, 2017

Lushly fleshed out, American War is an imagining of what could happen if our politically fractured present sparks a second Civil War. A dense, uncomfortable novel that immerses the reader in an alternate future America. Pairs well with Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here."

SCL_Justin Sep 06, 2017

American War does a good job of dealing with how conflict damages people, from refugee camps to soldiers to peacetime survivors. The civil war based on who will abandon the technologies that are destroying the planet is grimly believable, and the prison camp torture is even more real. I appreciated how the personal narrative is interspersed with the bigger picture historical documents that never overwhelm the story. Highly recommended.

SCL_Tricia Aug 21, 2017

A great cli-fi read. Unfortunately with recent world events it is easy to imagine this book being a crystal ball into the future of civil war in America. A book about war that focuses on the people that are trying to deal with the world that has ultimately been shaped by it. I enjoyed that the author did not pick one side or the other but focused on the realities for everyday people in this situation. A definite recommend.

w
WendyT68
Jul 26, 2017

The plausibility of this book is incredible! From the well-drawn and authentic characters to the atmospheric setting to the disquieting circumstances--this book is riveting until the end!

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