Depicted as braggart, brute, and bore in The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan has gotten a bad rap and means to correct the record. That weak-kneed, simpering cousin of his wife's, with his prattling about some lost idealized American individualism and rectitude, was not only a fool and a liar, but worse: a failed bond salesman. Pathetic. But by 1924 Tom has bigger problems than the pathos of the summer of '22. First, there's Aunt Gertrude, who has assumed control of the Buchanan fortune. Second, what with Daisy getting jowly and the maids indiscreet, there's little tranquillity at home. Third, a revolution is brewing in Nicaragua that's threatening to ensnare the family investments. So when Tom is dispatched to maneuver among Nicaragua's international corporate intrigues, machine-gun-toting rival political parties, and competing American intelligence agencies, he spies his chance.
A rollicking, outrageous, and altogether brilliant perversion of known facts, Banana Republican sends the sexist, racist, elitist Buchanan careening through America's brilliantly mismanaged intervention in Nicaragua in the early twentieth century. Eric Rauchway bends history to Buchanan's memoir as Tom blunders, shoots, and screws his way through the historical record and makes the case that greed and amorality have always been at the heart of the American dream.
In his unfortunate fiction debut, historian Rauchway (Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America) imagines that Tom Buchanan, Daisy's loutish, unpleasant husband from The Great Gatsby, has written a memoir. For 30 pages, this is inspired: the famous lantern at the end of the dock dangles "like a broken wine bottle in a drunk's loose grip," Daisy has grown pudgy, and the passage of time has tempered Tom's inherent unpleasantness with rueful humor. But then, in a bewildering shift, Tom decamps to Central America and becomes a key player in the United States' official and unofficial interventions in Nicaragua's turbulent politics circa 1925 1927. Tom goes everywhere and meets everyone (in the span of 20 pages, he runs guns for the rebels and goes on missions for the State Department's Bureau of Secret Intelligence) with an increasing sense of tedium and implausibility. As he seeks to protect family business interests, his conservative stances and racist attitudes become a one-note joke that quickly sours. Given the cleverness of the first two chapters, the unrelenting dreadfulness of the remainder of the book is bewildering.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A great summer book - for men
This is a wonderful spoof and very entertaining. Well written and with engaging characters that most men will quickly identify with.
A light and amusing summer read,