The idea of a Second American Civil War interests me in terms of fiction. (It really doesn’t matter if it interests me in person. As Leon Trotsky said, “You might not be interested in war, but it’s very interested in you.”)

What was once an idea only discussed on the fringes of American politics and society gets increasingly mentioned by both sides of the political spectrum. State secession is openly discussed. Amazon gives me 75 pages of books with the search words “second American civil war”. No doubt many are Amazon’s often irrelevant listings. Others are history books or books on contemporary politics or alternate histories. But others aren’t. The phrase “cold civil war” is sometimes used for American politics today. If such creatures as historians are willing and able to exist in the future, they may say the opening shots of an American Civil War have already been fired at Kenosha, Wisconsin.

I am not starting another series on the fiction depicting such a war. I already have too many unfinished series in progress on this blog. However, this is not the first book on the theme I’ve reviewed. Adam Connell’s Total Secession doesn’t have a Second American Civil War as its backdrop and only a limited discussion of why the nation broke up, but it is set against the backdrop of S-Day, the Day of Total Secession from the Union. The Operation Enduring Unity trilogy by R. A. Peters has the war breaking out and escalating more as a result of political farce and bad luck than anything else. It’s a satire on the bad uses politicians put the military to, but it is not concerned with partisan politics. However, it does seem realistic in its depictions of how such a war might be fought militarily and economically. It is not, however, a work of Fourth Generation Warfare.

Essay: Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War, Thomas Hobbes, 2014. 

Cover by Ørjan Svendsen

That’s military theorist William S. Lind, co-author of our last book, lurking behind that pseudonym. The genesis of this novel was an April 30, 1995 op-ed piece he wrote for The Washington Post.

It’s a long, mostly well-written novel that seriously looks at how implementing 4th Generation Warfare concepts enables the state of Maine to ultimately secede from the United States of America and become an independent nation. Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s worth reading for a depiction of how Fourth Generation Warfare could be fought in a breakup of the USA. I suspect, in fact, that the leaders of the Year Zero mobs are already familiar with many of the concepts of Fourth Generation Warfare. However, I will warn anyone who regards themselves as feminists that they will probably want to sedate themselves before reading it or get some dental appliances lest their molars shatter under the pressure of clenched jaws.

Notice I said “political persuasion” not ideology. This book is decidedly anti-ideological. Lind regards ideologies as thought killers because ideologies distort reality for those who hold them. That makes effective action harder to say nothing of setting questionable goals. Lind follows political philosopher (and weird fiction author) Russell Kirk in this. (Kirk was also a mentor to Jerry Pournelle.)

Continue reading

The Surge

This one came to me as a review copy from the author since I favorably reviewed the first two parts of the trilogy.

Review: The Surge: Operation Enduring Unity 3, R. A. Peters, 2015.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00065] 

Those who enjoyed the first two installments of R. A. Peter’s Operation Enduring Unity trilogy (Power Games and Shock & Awe) will not be disappointed with its conclusion.

Same black humor. Same look at the total complexities of modern war – the politics, economics, morale, logistics, and technology. More new and plausible weaponry. More plans going awry with first contact with enemy. More plans succeeding but not having the intended effect.

The gloves come off in the final installment when the breakaway United Republics of America use sarin gas in Baton Rouge. The USA responds by carrying the war to civilians. More than one combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq (which Peters is) comments on their disgust at being in a civil war complete with civilian insurgents.

We see more of the shadowy cabal of the rich supporting the URA. Continue reading

Operation Enduring Unity

If you think this one sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written more detailed reviews of each of the books in the trilogy. However, when Mr. Peters sent me the review copy for the third, he requested I post the review under the trilogy which is how the books are now sold.

You can see my detailed reviews under the relevant titles: Power Games, Shock & Awe, and The Surge.

Review: Operation Enduring Unity, R. A. Peters, 2015.Operation Enduring Unity

No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Our story starts with an assassin taking a shot at a presidential candidate. He misses, the ricochet killing the candidate he does favor. That sets the tone of this book, a story full of accident and misunderstanding and miscalculation.

Sure, the initial set up is improbable, but the consequences after that aren’t. Peters even brings in real military and political precedents from American history.

Sure, there’s satire but not of the arguments that the major political parties make on cable news. It’s a commentary on the bad uses politicians, out of ignorance and ambition and naiveté, put the military to. And normal calculations of cost and benefit go out the window once blood is spilled. There is so little conventional partisan politics that, apart from the brief party identifications of the three presidential candidates, you almost forget who belongs to which party. Continue reading

Total Secession

Another retro review.

This one is from December 20, 2012, and the book itself came to me from the author via LibraryThing.

Review: Total Secession, Adam Connell, 2012.Total Secession

If you’re wanting Connell’s novel to be a quick bit of hack work to cash in on recent talk in the U.S., post the 2012 presidential election, of states seceding from the Union, one of those stories where our heroes are repeatedly, enthusiastically, and violently tutored in the necessity of secession, you are going to be sadly disappointed.

The secessions this story is really concerned with are the personal ones, the disunions of family and friends.

To be sure, the United States really are breaking up. The reasons, though, are covered in maybe 15 pages all together: disgust with foreign wars, disgust with a corrupt federal government and its alphabet agencies and repressive criminal code and appalling budgets, “the foul word … sewer word” appeal as in foreign aid and justice lacking in federal courts, distress from illegal immigrations, “a government that grew too large to be overseen by its previous incarnation”.

Which brings us to S-Day, the Day of Total Secession when the Union will exist no longer. As part of that transition, all prisoners and illegal aliens not guilty of murder, sexual offenses, or child abuse are being released from Federal prisons. Our story proper starts in Florida, S-Day -11, when convicts Grant and Litz have been released. Grant is a giant of a man, a killer (but not, technically, guilty of murder) with tattoos from all the prison’s major gangs. Grant wants to go north to see his wife and children who he has not seen in 10 years. Litz has another errand in mind – completion of a reunion with the sisters he thinks cheated him out of an inheritance. Given a car and money by a grateful ex-guard and another ex-prisoner Grant saved in a riot, the two set out for Albany. Continue reading

Shock & Awe

Review: Shock & Awe: Operation Enduring Unity II by Richard Peters

Amateurs think tactics, dilettantes think strategy, and professionals think logistics.

Disrupting enemy supply chains is a one of the main elements of Peters’ novel. Given that both sides use the internet and speak the same language, it’s easier than in a lot of other wars.

ShockThe other big element is that the fortunes of war can change very quickly. Victory, in the propaganda and shooting wars, shifts rapidly here.

The first book used political analogies from history. This book uses battle analogies. The rebel URA mounts a Bay of Pigs style effort in Florida. Denver threatens to become Stalingrad as the USA attempts an invasion of its breakaway western states. Continue reading

Power Games

When Richard Peters offered me a review copy of his novel Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity 1, I was not enthusiastic.

Power GamesThe cover (not the one shown) looked kind of cartoonish. A blurb stating “After years of unchecked extremism, the presidential election is now a high-stakes poker game played out on a bloody table.” did not sound promising. I suspected either an attack on “Tea Party extremism” or, in the manner of some of the self-published survivalist novels I’ve read descriptions of, an attack on the current U.S. administration. No matter how congenial the politics, I expected crude satire or propaganda. The title seemed too cute too.

But it was a story about a Second American Civil War, and I suspect, as the years go by, we will hear more about states contemplating secession from the Union for whatever reason. Having reviewed Adam Connell’s Total Secession, a very different novel set against the background of a soon to be extinct Union, I was curious what Peters did with the idea.

I liked it, a lot, enough to buy the sequel Shock & Awe: Operation Enduring Unity 2 which just shows the wisdom of Peter’s advice to self-published authors: research and define your target reader.

Review: Power Games: Operation Enduring Unity 1 by Richard Peters, 2013.

No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Continue reading