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The Book Frog

Books. Book reviews. Bookish thoughts. Living a bookish life. Life in the bookstore.

The Army of the Republic: A Novel

The Army of the Republic: A Novel - Stuart Archer Cohen Imagine a future--not too far distant, mind you--in which all of America's public works have been privatized. Big corporate runs the utilities, health care, access to water. Not too hard, is it? Now picture an America which is politically charged: small groups of activists staging protests, guerrilla actions, and just generally trying to stick it to the man. The Army of the Republic is a grim novelistic study of just this scenario. The story alternates among the points of view of three main characters. Lando--yes, he's taken his guerrilla name from that Lando--is one of the founders of the Army of the Republic, a guerrilla group in which nobody knows anybody else's true identity, which funds itself by pulling off heists against big corporate (Walmart et al), and which has, at the beginning of the novel, just carried out its first political execution. The target of their action was not a politician, but rather, a player in the field of water processing and distribution. Emily is one of the heads of a far larger, more mainstream--but still radical--group of civil activists. Their group decries the violence which many of the revolutionary groups resort to, and is currently throwing most of its weight behind voting reform. And the third point of view comes to us courtesy of Lando's father, a serious name in the water game. There's a romance. There's familial dysfunction and reconciliation. The book is fascinating when examining the minutiae of revolutionary activism--false names, money caches, safe houses, and all the other cloak and dagger stuff necessary to live a life under the radar and on the run. But it's at its very best when the action heats up and the protesting begins. The Army of the Republic was a reasonably enjoyable read, but would have been tighter, and probably not come across quite as self-righteously as it did, if some judicious editing had pruned 75 or 100 pages from its length.