This is a book about the nature of history, and the nature of politics, and the nature of power. It is also a book about the strange, in-between world of adolescence.
What would happen if the students of a prestigious private academy held almost unlimited power of self-governance? This premise sets up a novel that owes equal parts to All the President’s Men, to Lord of the Flies, and to the daily headlines of our current political age.
It’s a fantastic book.
(I noticed the hardcover edition has some beautiful formatting touches that don't carry over in the Kindle edition.)
A few lines that strike close to the heart of the novel, without spoiling anything:
“People always say that history is important because those who don’t learn from it’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
I’m not sure that’s true. I believe that history is important because if you’re still standing on the other side of it, it means you won. You survived. It’s in the past, and what’s behind you can’t hurt you.
Not as long as you can outrun it.”
“Paul Chudnuff took the ideas of honor and righteousness and linked them to power.
And to a certain kind of person, power like that is irresistible.”
“When Richard Nixon was running for reelection in 1972, he had a whole shadow campaign, a whole team of people who did nothing but sabotage his opponents ...
You don’t just wake up one morning with the audacity to pull something like that in a presidential election. You practice.”
“But the third reason I did it, the main reason I did it, is that I thought it might get some adults to step in and make it stop ...
I didn’t want to do it, but I thought, If I do something bad enough, the people in charge of this place won’t be able to ignore it anymore.”