Cover Image: The Next Civil War

The Next Civil War

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This book presents three scenarios that might lead to a civil war in the US. Each scenario is baked up by additional content that shows how the conditions for the scenario are in place.
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Interesting look at life and politics in the current climate. Anyone to develop a stronger interest and passion for politics over the past 7 years will likely be enthralled reading this. A worthwhile look at the current landscape and future of politics in the United States.
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I actually found this fascinating reading, although after 1/6 I was perhaps not in the right headspace to review before publication! I'd pair with historical nonfiction about the Civil War and a speculative fictional take like Lilith Saintcrow's Afterwar for discussion.
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This book has an interesting premise: it poses five future scenarios that might push the United States into a civil war. What is terrifying is how realistic and seemingly likely each of the scenarios described in the book are. I think this is an important read for anyone concerned about the future of our country, regardless of political affiliation. The fact that the threats described in this book are within the realms of possibility is a threat in itself. 

Thanks to Netgalley & Avid Reader Press for my ARC.
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I have long enjoyed Marche's essays in Esquire and the New York Times Magazine, so when I saw that he was taking on America's near future, I couldn't resist. I'm glad I did.

Marche isn't writing science fiction here. I would describe it more as 'reported probability.'

Each of his five scenarios--a rural showdown between the Army and local militia, a political assassination, the destruction of a major port city through climate change or plague, among others--contains a relative dearth of plot, but a hefty amount of reporting to make the scenario seem clear.

Marche hasn't dreamed up these scenarios. He has discussed them with others in the know--military brass, scholars. Reading this as the Covid pandemic stubbornly pushes itself into 2022, and as the one-year anniversity of the January 6 Riot passes with one party stubbornly refusing to hold itself accountable, the scenarios look all to real.

An interesting element of Marche's analysis is his outsider status. He is a Canadian who has lived and reported from America for many years. His skepticism is balanced with his admiration for the United States. Still, from where I read in the reddest of red states--in a district whose Congressman probably would have joined in the riot had he not been inside the Capitol on January 6, seeking unconstitutional measures to abort a certified election--I see a brighter way than what I read here.

Two facts that Marche cites give me hope. First is the densification of American life. Rural countries are emptying out as exurbs and cities fill. While holes in the Constitution have been exploited by Fascists recently to maintain power for a short time longer and stack the courts with reactionaries, the balances in the system will eventually balance out. Votes are still made by people, and western states that have turned from red to blue in recent years have done so because of burgeoning metropolises and exhausted, depopulated rural areas.

The second is the issue of demographics. White Americans are declining, not only in economic status, but also in population. Covid is accelerating this process, thanks to anti-vaxxers, but birth rates play a part. There has been a spurt of white violence in response, as Marche notes, but I don't think this is a threat to the country as a whole as much as it is to the institutions of white surpremacy, such as the Church and the Republi-fascist party.

Marche's book is a good start. It raises issues of which we should be aware. But I don't think it is prophetic.

Special thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in return for this honest review.
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I feel that the author is reaching to try to alarm people. I do not believe that the United States is nearly as divided as he states. Sure, there's radicals on both sides, but there always have been. Social media just gives them a bigger platform to be seen. And the media is also to blame, always promoting sensationalism. I believe most citizens know and understand this, and will not be persuaded to join either extreme. To me, the author is the one yelling "the sky is falling".
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The author begins by saying that this is an unbiased look at the failing American political system, but then proceeds to blame conservatives for an overwhelming majority of the issues he brings up.  Anytime a finger is pointed toward liberals, it is justified and excused.  {To be clear here, I have never voted party lines and am staunchly moderate; voting liberal on some issues and conservative on others.}  The author seems to have a misguided assumption that rural America is composed solely of racist whites, and I invite him to visit some rural communities and actually experience the diversity and true nature of those regions, rather than make sweeping judgements from his obviously-urban setting.  Additionally, every scenario presented talks of the President's actions in terms of 'she.'  We have never had a female leader, so it seems an odd choice of pronoun, unless the author is saying either (A) the mere existence of said female leader would cause the eruption or (B) the author has some sort of insider knowledge the reader does not.  There are a few redeeming points here and there, such as the acknowledgement that these issues started LONG before Trump rose to power, which is something many people either simply cannot see or refuse to accept.  While timely and necessary, as the US is most definitely facing a divide, this book feels like more fearmongering and further-divisiveness, rather than a blueprint for reading the future and attempting to mitigate the damage.
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