American War
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3.79 / 5

"American War" Summary

By Omar El Akkad

fiction | 384 pages | Published in 2017

An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itselfSarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.

ISBN_13:9999999999999

Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

"American War" follows a young girl's journey through a second American Civil War and its devastating impact on her life.

Introduction

"American War" by Omar El Akkad is a thought-provoking and compelling dystopian novel set in a future America ravaged by a second Civil War. The book delves into themes of conflict, survival, and the human cost of war, offering a poignant reflection on the potential consequences of political and environmental turmoil.

Brief Synopsis

The novel unfolds in the late 21st century, where the United States is divided by a second Civil War, sparked by a dispute over the use of fossil fuels. The story primarily follows the experiences of Sarat Chestnut, a young girl from Louisiana, as she navigates the brutal realities of war and its aftermath. Against the backdrop of a nation torn apart by violence and political upheaval, Sarat's journey serves as a poignant exploration of the human spirit's resilience and the moral complexities of survival in a war-torn world.

Plot Overview and Setting

The novel is primarily set in a future America, with the narrative moving through various locations such as the Free Southern State and refugee camps along the Mississippi River. The landscape is marked by environmental degradation, the proliferation of refugee settlements, and the pervasive influence of militarized factions vying for control. Against this backdrop, the characters' lives are deeply affected by the war's destructive impact, shaping their choices and perspectives.

Main Characters

The characters in "American War" are vividly portrayed, each contributing to the novel's exploration of the human experience in times of conflict and adversity.

CharacterDescription
Sarat ChestnutA resilient and determined young girl who becomes deeply entangled in the war's brutal realities.
Benjamin ChestnutSarat's twin brother, whose experiences also shape the trajectory of the narrative.
Martina JohnsonA mentor figure to Sarat, who introduces her to the complexities of the war and its impact on society.
John ColeA journalist who forms a connection with Sarat and provides an outsider's perspective on the unfolding events.

Story Points Over Chapters

The narrative unfolds through a series of impactful story points, each contributing to the novel's rich tapestry of themes and character development.

Chapter 1-5

The novel introduces a world divided by the Southern secession, setting the stage for the conflict that will define the characters' lives. Sarat's family is forced to flee their home, marking the beginning of their harrowing journey.

Chapter 6-10

Sarat's experiences in a refugee camp expose her to the harsh realities of war, shaping her worldview and resilience. The novel delves into the dynamics of power and control within the camp, highlighting the moral ambiguity of survival in such circumstances.

Chapter 11-15

As Sarat grows older, she becomes increasingly embroiled in the conflict, leading to a series of pivotal events that irrevocably alter the trajectory of her life. The novel delves into the complexities of loyalty, ideology, and the human capacity for both resilience and destruction.

Chapter 16-20

The narrative intensifies as Sarat's actions become increasingly entwined with the war's trajectory, leading to profound personal and societal consequences. The novel explores the human cost of conflict, challenging the characters' beliefs and values.

Chapter 21-25

The novel reaches its climax, as the consequences of the characters' choices and the war's impact come to a head. The narrative explores the deeply personal toll of the conflict, culminating in a poignant reflection on the enduring effects of war on individuals and society.

Main Events

The novel is punctuated by several pivotal events that shape the characters' lives and the trajectory of the war, offering a poignant reflection on the human experience in times of conflict.

Main EventImpact
Sarat's family's displacement and flightSets the stage for the characters' experiences in the war, highlighting the personal cost of political conflict.
Sarat's experiences in the refugee campShapes her resilience and worldview, offering a poignant exploration of the human spirit's survival in adversity.
Sarat's increasing involvement in the conflictLeads to a series of pivotal events that challenge her beliefs and the moral complexities of war.
The climax of the novel's narrativeCulminates in a poignant reflection on the enduring effects of war on individuals and society.

Themes and Insights

"American War" delves into several profound themes, offering insights into the human experience and the moral complexities of conflict and survival.

Survival and Resilience

The novel poignantly explores the human capacity for survival and resilience in the face of adversity, depicting the characters' unwavering determination to navigate the harsh realities of war.

Moral Ambiguity of War

Through its exploration of the characters' choices and actions, the novel delves into the moral complexities of war, challenging traditional notions of right and wrong in times of conflict.

Human Cost of Conflict

"American War" offers a poignant reflection on the human cost of political and ideological conflict, highlighting the enduring impact of war on individuals and society.

Environmental Degradation

The novel's setting serves as a stark backdrop for the environmental degradation wrought by the war, offering a cautionary reflection on the potential consequences of unchecked environmental exploitation.

Reader's Takeaway

"American War" offers readers a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience in times of conflict and adversity. Through its vivid characters and poignant narrative, the novel invites reflection on the moral complexities of war, the enduring resilience of the human spirit, and the profound impact of conflict on individuals and society.

Conclusion

In conclusion, "American War" by Omar El Akkad is a poignant and impactful novel that delves into the moral complexities of conflict, survival, and the human cost of war. Through its vivid characters and richly detailed narrative, the book offers readers a thought-provoking reflection on the enduring resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. With its exploration of profound themes and compelling storytelling, "American War" stands as a powerful work that resonates with readers long after the final page.

American War FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'American War'?

    American War is a dystopian science fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'American War'?

    Omar El Akkad is the author of 'American War'.

  3. What is the setting of 'American War'?

    The novel is set in a future America where a second Civil War has broken out.

  4. What is the main theme of 'American War'?

    The main themes of 'American War' include the impact of war on individuals, the environment, and society, as well as the consequences of political and social division.

  5. Is 'American War' suitable for young readers?

    The book contains mature themes and content, so it may not be suitable for young readers.