Civil War Two, Part 1: America Elects a President Determined to Restore Religion to Public Life, and the Nation Splits
What if the United States can’t stay united? What if this land of red and blue states, of a divided gerrymandered electorate, of MSNBC and Fox News, of tweets and special counsels, can’t find its way back to a collective national identity and spirit of unity? What if, into this tensely partisan climate, a leader is elected who proves so divisive that the union collapses?
In 2018 America, these are timely questions. In his book Civil War Two, sociologist and scholar Randall Collins acknowledges the desperate state of American affairs and imagines the final fissure that might split this nation in two, with a gruesome civil war to follow. The time for ideological debate comes and goes, and the USA and the newly formed Coalition of Secular States of America (CSSA) collapse into civil war, amassing a tragic body count and swath of physical devastation, fighting for maximum destruction.
The book’s action is action, with detailed military discussions and a narrative that alternates perspectives of wartime leaders on both sides. This approach works to effectively hammer home the point that with division comes bloody, merciless war. However, the pace and detail of war talk starve out character development and human interest that often help readers engage with the more technical components of a story. Successful epics about war and history succeed by focusing on appealing, fascinating characters with whom a reader can connect and sympathize. Classic civil-war novels, like Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and North and South by John Jakes, engage readers with the horror of the [first] American Civil War by wrapping them in the tales of unforgettable characters, from Scarlett O’Hara to Orry Main. A chronicle of a second Civil War might likewise pack more punch as a story of people at war, rather than of a war with people.
Still, Dr. Collins has a point to make, and he uses history as a powerful cautionary tale, contextualizing the fictional USA’s military campaign against the CSSA with detailed discussions of true historic battles and stages in America’s original Civil War. Allusions to military strategy and parallel missions suggest the gravity of an America once again pitted against itself and the near absurdity of the world’s greatest superpower self-destructing.
The book’s chilling bottom line is that it could happen here. From what-if questions to a wildly imaginative doomsday scenario, Civil War Two offers readers a path to avoid and a vision of how differences can lead to violent chasm. Perhaps this glimpse of a gut-wrenching hypothetical future can motivate all parties to heal the cracks before fiction becomes reality.
|Author||Randall Collins • Maren McConnell, Illustrator|
|Page Count||752 pages|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Current Events & Politics|