What if the heart of terrorism was the American south?
Sarat is a sniper for the new South. The South that seceded again after the United States' federal government in Columbus passed a law banning fossil fuels. That’s the premise of American War, the first novel by Omar El Akkad. Previously, El Akkad spent a decade as a reporter for The Globe and Mail. He aggregates his experience in war zones to inform his plot, but the setting is near future USA. American war, get it? The national capital is moved to Columbus because Washington D.C. is underwater due to global warming. Besides being an object lesson in the consequences of United States’ foreign policy, American War is a deep dive into the psychology of terrorism. Sarat is just a geeky little girl at the start of the novel. Circumstances and grooming mold her into someone willing to commit violence. Some of the jumps in her character arc had me scratching my head, but the subject matter is timely. Many 2nd Wednesday Book Club members noticed there is no mention of race despite this being a novel about a second civil war with a repeat southern succession. The rest of the book is too insightful for me to think this omission unintentional. El Akkad's intention though eluded myself and my book club. Despite these flaws, American War remains incendiary.