Sunday, 26 April 2020

The American Crusade by Mark Spivak – Book Review

Note: I received an advance reader's copy of the book from TCK Publishing – if you are interested in the book following the review – refer to external links below. Your support to writers is always appreciated. 

The American Crusade is a political narrative with a plot set in early 21st century. A terrorist attack in the American Midwest has led to the loss of over 3,000 civilian lives. A terror outfit based out of Kabulistan assumed responsibility leading to a sentiment of anger among the American public and a demand for reaction with politicians across party lines identifying opportunities to further their own cause.

The incumbent president is George Cane, from the GOP and a powerful political family which has had a president in the recent past. He was facing the biggest crisis his country had faced in the recent times, with a potential military invasion in the middle east yet again, within a span of ten years. In the meantime, the vice-president – Richard Hornsby, is the man running the show from behind the scenes, an astute and pragmatic politician who ensures to send the right message to Cane’s core base – and dubbing the invasion as the final crusade. The opposition had its own issues to deal with – that an opposition to the war could be perceived as lack of patriotism, making their chances of winning back the White House remote.

The plot also has various other issues touched upon – the underlying opposition to homosexuality back in the day and how an exposé could be a political suicide for any politician. Both Cane and Hornsby were not shown to have a particular opinion on the issue but were not hesitant to use it to undermine their opponents or appealing to their core voters. From a reader’s perspective, it is quite strange to look back and realise as to how these were highly contentious less than two decades ago and from there, it is comforting today that an openly gay politician could carry two states in the 2020 Presidential Primaries – but there is still a long way to go and I would not digress further in the review.

The multiple issues covered in the book could make the readers lose track unless they are politically aware, as there are multiple characters and if we do not understand the context, we would find the plot to be going nowhere. This meant that there was little scope for character building – with the exception of Hornsby and George Cane himself – neither of whom were particularly likeable (owing to my own political leanings which is no secret).

There was also an interesting sub plot involving a boy named Abdul in Baghdad, who was appealed by radical Islamist ideas and was listening to radio from the neighbouring Persepostan (fictionalised version of Iran). His parents’ struggle to take him away from the path and Abdul’s skulduggery in continuing with it were my favourite parts of the novel.

Indeed, the book is a work of fiction but at the same time, it is hard to classify it as such considering it is written in a manner that makes it feel real; mainly as most of the events in the story are inspired by events fresh in most of readers’ memories. The anecdotes linking it with the previous crusade was also interesting; but that is entirely upto the reader as skipping them would cause no impact on the flow of the plot.

However, the contemporary nature of the book was also its weakness; for instance – there is a Republican president whose family member was also a president less than a decade ago, a powerful vice president, a terror attack leading to a war in the middle east, a senator who is worried about damaging her presidential aspirations – who also happens to have been the first lady in the past, a budding senator who is gaining a lot of attention and has familial connections to Indonesia, and the list goes on. By now, have you been able to identify the real-world equivalents of these characters? If not, you have an amazing political book coming your way.

To me, I felt that I was going through the news of the past with names of the people changed. One could ask what’s in a name but when you could use ‘United States’, ‘France’, ‘UK’, ‘Republicans’, ‘Democrats’, etc. I do not understand the reason behind fictionalising Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran with Sumeristan, Kabulistan and Persepostan respectively. In fact, Sumeristan even has Baghdad and the Anbar province within its boundaries. I do not understand the reason behind replacing the names of the sovereign states.

This is a fast-paced political narrative – and is enjoyable for those who wish to have a glimpse into the conversations and power struggles among the politicians in power. I understand that there is going to be a sequel to the book and I shall be looking forward to it. On that note, I would award the book a rating of seven on ten.

Rating – 7/10

External links:

Amazon link: (US Link - available in Europe as well)

Have a nice day,

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