The United States is coming to an end. The only question is how.
“Should be required reading for anyone interested in preserving our 246-year experiment in self-government.” —The New York Times Book Review * “Well researched and eloquently presented.” —The Atlantic * “It’s not a matter of if but when: A civil war is on the way...In a time of torment, this is a book well worth reading.” —Kirkus Reviews
In this deeply researched work of speculative nonfiction that reads like Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized crossed with David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, a celebrated journalist takes a fiercely divided America and imagines five chilling scenarios that lead to its collapse, based on in-depth interviews with experts of all kinds.
On a small two-lane bridge in a rural county that loathes the federal government, the US Army uses lethal force to end a standoff with hard-right anti-government patriots. Inside an ordinary diner, a disaffected young man with a handgun takes aim at the American president stepping in for an impromptu photo-op, and a bullet splits the hyper-partisan country into violently opposed mourners and revelers. In New York City, a Category 2 hurricane plunges entire neighborhoods underwater and creates millions of refugees overnight—a blow that comes on the heels of a financial crash and years of catastrophic droughts— and tips America over the edge into ruin.
These nightmarish scenarios are just three of the five possibilities most likely to spark devastating chaos in the United States that are brought to life in The Next Civil War, a chilling and deeply researched work of speculative nonfiction. Drawing upon sophisticated predictive models and nearly two hundred interviews with experts—civil war scholars, military leaders, law enforcement officials, secret service agents, agricultural specialists, environmentalists, war historians, and political scientists—journalist Stephen Marche predicts the terrifying future collapse that so many of us do not want to see unfolding in front of our eyes. Marche has spoken with soldiers and counterinsurgency experts about what it would take to control the population of the United States, and the battle plans for the next civil war have already been drawn up. Not by novelists, but by colonels.
No matter your political leaning, most of us can sense that America is barreling toward catastrophe—of one kind or another. Relevant and revelatory, The Next Civil War plainly breaks down the looming threats to America and is a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of its people, its land, and its government.
In this cogent if alarmist account, novelist and cultural critic Marche (The Unmade Bed) argues that the nation's "collapse will arrive sooner and more suddenly than anybody expects." Outlining potential scenarios for civil war, Marche imagines catalyst events that would exacerbate present-day social tensions. In the first, a small-town sheriff refuses a government order and becomes a hero to conspiracy theorists and anti-government activists, resulting in an uprising the president must ask the military to quell. The second, somewhat less likely scenario, involves a presidential assassination in which the assassin and the victim become heroic symbols. The third and most chilling scenario includes a hurricane that ravages New York City, followed by other climate disasters that make food insecurity a constant concern for vast swaths of the U.S. To help give shape to these hypotheticals, Marche speaks to political scientists, sociologists, white nationalists, gun show attendees, and others with insights into hot-button issues. He ultimately contends that "since the United States no longer functions as a nation," allowing part of the country to secede is among "the best-case scenarios." Though Marche includes some astute commentary from experts, his thought experiments are more sketched than fully realized. Readers will find plenty to worry about, but little to hold on to.
Based on the factual information and honest projection of possible futures the author does a terrific job at laying out potential futures for a disrupted America. It should be warned that this book is not all that uplifting, it is however, eye opening. A great read for those interested in history and futuristic scenarios. It should be added; that through these dark realities, a glimpse of light and hope remains.