American War

American War

Book - 2017
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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: 9780771009396
Branch Call Number: FIC ElAkk
Characteristics: 333 pages : maps ; 25 cm.


From Library Staff

What happens to a divided America, where the states are no longer united? How does one family survive a civil war? This is a very thought-provoking novel.

Uncomfortably timely, Omar El Akkad proposes a future America that descends into a second civil war. Grim and realistic, this is a read for those who like a challenge.

VaughanPLKelly May 16, 2017

An extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and engaging debut novel about a futuristic America ravaged by climate change and civil war. I couldn't put it down, despite the difficult topic.

From the critics

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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.

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.

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

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.

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!

Jul 05, 2017

Great character development in Sarat as you follow her through her journey and choices she makes (though with outside influences making a huge impact on her decisions.) Set in a dystopia where resources are run dry, and climate change has drowned part of the Eastern states, it’s definitely not a light read but one to read slowly and to be carefully thought through. Definitely recommended.

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