Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book Review: The Army of the Republic by Stuart Archer Cohen

Stuart Archer Cohen’s new novel is, to say the least, polarizing. His world view and philosophical outlook inform both the message and the tone of the book. So, needless to say, some readers are not going to be pleased with what they find between the covers. But, if you can put your firm and unwavering convictions aside and allow this tale of dictatorship and dissent to speak to you, you might actually enjoy the ride.

One way in which the book will not change some minds is through the hyper-realistic settings and events. When writing a cautionary tale about modern-day events and politics, most authors will either keep the narrative grounded firmly in the real world. Some, however, will make their point by taking real events and situations and exaggerating them to an almost absurd degree. The latter, while sometimes distracting, does not necessarily discredit the message within. 1984, A Brave New World, and Atlas Shrugged are just some examples of philosophical theses successfully encapsulated in a science-fiction or fantasy shell. The Army of the Republic may seem far fetched in some spots, and may occasionally overreach in others. But those perturbed by this might be better off reading a Clancy or Grisham paperback. Deep (and sometimes radical) beliefs occasionally need to be shouted from soap boxes bigger than the real world can currently afford us.

Cohen may not be successful in converting the unconvinced with his spectacular tale of ruthless corporate oligarchs, Blackwater reminiscent death squads, and radical underground movements. But he makes his argument loud, clear, and most importantly, highly entertaining.

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