Thursday, July 4, 2013

A State of Disobedience by Tom Kratman

 I think this may be Tom Kratman's first novel; it seems a little less polished than some of his later works, but it's still quite a good read. Just stumbled on it at the bookstore the other day, realized I didn't have a copy, and the rest is history, or future history, perhaps.

One thing I don't quite understand is how the author totally nailed the 2008 Democratic campaign rhetoric and majority of the resulting administration's agenda implemented after taking power, when Kratman wrote the book in 2003. I think he was anticipating a Clinton run, as the President in the story is a Progressive woman - the historical election of a black man was still too much fantasy at that point. Perhaps one should regard this as more of an alternate history novel.

Anyway, federal government law enforcement agencies have burgeoned out of control, with the EPA, Surgeon General's office, and others maintaining their own pseudo-military forces, in addition to the usual suspects from the FBI, NSA, CIA, BATF, and so on. The word has gone down from the President's office to fully enforce the new abortion rights guarantees, and to take the gloves off when it comes to the Pro Life demonstrators. The Surgeon General's police force goes on the offensive in Dallas, Texas against a group of demonstrators they suspect of setting fires at abortion clinics, and when one reaches for a cell phone during the attack, it triggers a massacre. Father Flores, the leader of the group, flees to what he hopes is sanctuary with another Catholic priest, Father Montoya and a Waco-like siege ensues, except that this time not only innocent children and their caregivers die, but a number of federal police are killed, as well.

As it turns out, Father Montoya's sister is the governor of Texas, and his best friend from Vietnam is the commander of the Texas National Guard, and to some extent you can predict how things are going to fall out from this point. It's a tense story, with a couple of interesting twists, and Kratman (a retired Army Colonel, if I remember correctly) infuses the tale with extremely accurate depictions of the flow of battle operations, weapons capabilities, and the perspective military men bring to a civil conflict. A good solid story which explores the issue of federal overreach and the point at which citizens revoke their consent to be governed.

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