Book Review: Omar El Akkad ~ American War

Omar was born in Egypt, lived in Qatar and is now a Canadian. This matters, American War is a dystopian novel set in the late 21st century. America is engaged in a vicious civil war. Climate change has caused havoc and the majority, in the North, have passed laws making fossil fuel use illegal. The southern states have resisted and are under a siege. There is only one end.

Sarat Chestnut lives in Louisiana a rebel state. The privations of being on the wrong end of conflict are many. Her father is killed by suicide bombers while waiting for a permit to work in the North. The family then move to the relative safety of Camp Patience. Once there there life is a bleakly nihilistic. Sarat grows up with the routines of oppression shaping her psychological DNA.

Recruiters groom suicide bombers who usually achieve nothing. Sarat is also recruited but resists the empty glamour of suicide bombing. She become a sniper. Smugglers not only smuggle commodities they also smuggle information. Sarat’s greatest success is the assassination of a general. This unleashes a whirlwind. Sarat and her family are forced to live on the coast. Once there she’s kidnapped and placed into a detention centre where interrogation escalates into torture when she resists. She’s finally broken. Her final act of resistance is breath-taking.

Why you should read this book: It’s a brilliant dystopian metaphor for the conflict in the middle-east with roles reversed.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You’re a climate change denier and believe American power is permanent.

Buy it at


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