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Publisher Description

“Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy [created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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 itself.

Sarat 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.

Fiction & Literature
April 4
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

Skyler06 ,

Unexpectedly Good

It’s been a few months since I’ve read this book, but as someone who usually avoids books about war, I’m really glad I read this one. It is definitely more of a speculative fiction with decent commentary about race and class. Overall, extremely enjoyable and thoughtful.

chriswillis147 ,

American war

Wow very thought provoking,


Fundamentally Flawed

The book’s core premise of environmental disruption is ominously plausible.

However, the storyline is fundamental flawed.

The author completely misses on the ethnic composition of his apocalyptic South. African Americans comprise a vast percentage of Southerners. They are essentially nonexistent in this book, with no explanation as to why. This casts a pall of illogic over the entire book.

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