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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
A griping debut novel from an award-winning journalist that imagines a bleak and savage not-so-distant future. Amid the geo-political scaffolding of an American Civil War that has broken out over fossil fuels, El Akkad leaves lots of room for human-scale storytelling.
American War disturbs and provokes the reader out of any complacency. Set in the 22nd century, the dystopic threats of today and some realities transplanted from other parts of the world, (displaced persons, plagues, climate change, and the cultivation of terrorists), infuse the novel. Eerie, with echoes of historical grievances, this novel is tightly written with the tension and repression it creates so well, challenging us to look more closely and compassionately at our world, its inhabitants, and current geopolitical dilemmas.