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American War Audiobook

American War: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, April 2017 - Omar El Akkad's ambitious debut novel is set in a dystopian future America amid a second Civil War, following the Chestnut family - particularly young Sarat - as they seek refuge from the encroaching violence near their home in Louisiana. The country is torn apart at first by the divide over climate change and fossil fuels and then by assassination, violence, and plague. With cinematic description and imagery, El Akkad paints a bleak vision, made all the more horrifying by how palpable and timely it all seems. I was initially concerned this book would feel too close to home to be enjoyable - and yet I was utterly transfixed from the very start. I can easily see this novel becoming an important entry into the dystopian canon. Dion Graham's performance is masterful as always. His smooth, measured delivery is welcome guide through this chaotic, dark story. —Sam, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during the war - part of the Miraculous Generation - and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past, his family's role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.

©2017 Omar El Akkad (P)2017 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (760 )
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4.4 (712 )
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Performance
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  •  
    odin 04-08-17
    odin 04-08-17 Member Since 2009
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    "Best listen in years"

    This story breaks my rating scale -- I'd have to go back and subtract stars from anything I've listened to in years to make the 5 stars I gave it here accurate. It's an enthralling parable of recent history made all the more salient by placing what America does abroad, here at home.

    Secondly, the reader's performance was stellar -- another curve buster who should have a special 10 star rating just like this book and its author deserves. I can't praise the reader's ability highly enough and I'll certainly go looking for other books he has narrated. I would easily choose a book outside my usual genres based solely on his skill as a reader.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daggie Oh 04-05-17
    Daggie Oh 04-05-17
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    "Hard dystopian literature, not Hunger Games"
    What made the experience of listening to American War the most enjoyable?

    Complex characters and a well fleshed world. It is a very competent book about the past and present, but is set in the future.


    What other book might you compare American War to and why?

    Loosely, American War might be compared with What is the What, Zone One, and The Magicians, in that they brought literary conventions to genre's/stories that are generally handled very differently. This book has more in common with dead southern authors and Toni Morrison than anything like The Hunger Games or Divergent.
    If anyone remembers the previews for Donnie Darko, it was originally pitched as a slasher horror film. If you've seen it, it's something very special and unique and certainly not horror. I think a similar miss-marketing could happen with this book if people flock to it for war scenes, or flashy sic-fi elements.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Everything between the narrator as a child spending time with his aunt, after everything she has been through, was heart-breaking and warming. The cage match scene is also excellent.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Never Forget


    Any additional comments?

    This book is literature that will find cross-genre fans, but I hope it doesn't get sold as action packed sic-fi. It's a beautiful dark story about one girl who is raised to hate. It lets us in on how slippery that slope can be, and how we may not agree, but we can appreciate her journey.

    19 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew 04-07-17
    andrew 04-07-17 Member Since 2013
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    "It's no picnic - but nourishing all the same."

    It's hard to quantify all the reasons you should read this book. While it's certainly not an uplifting tale as the title should suggest, it depicts war in a way most Americans don't grasp, or like to think about. I've read a lot of war journals, and non fiction, and I think this rings true to a lot of what I've seen and read. War is a hate and carelessness made manifest, and we should read more from accounts of the losing side than the winning side. I think Akkad poignantly drives that point home with an inspired piece of fiction. I'd also say it's not a perfectly crafted tale - but it definitely works. Some reviewer call it slow. I'd say it's realistic? It's a book about the victims of war, and the tone and pace reveal a sense of the expansive claustrophobia that long periods of internment and lack of self determination would entail. Impressive debut novel.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 07-22-17
    Laura 07-22-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Outstanding!"

    Outstanding story, dark and frighteningly-realistic, honest and engaging, well-narrated!!! I highly recommend this book if you like dark dystopian literature.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Davis 07-12-17
    Ryan Davis 07-12-17
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    "Brilliant story! Would highly recommend!"

    I loved every minute of this story! It hits close to home with the way the world is today and would suggest anybody with an interest in dystopian literature to give it a read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 05-26-17
    Scott 05-26-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Great premise...great imagery, slow and tedious"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    More detail on actual events that lead up to the war and more elements of the waging of the war.


    Which character – as performed by Dion Graham – was your favorite?

    Sarat


    Could you see American War being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Definitely. A little less sci-fi than the current post apocalyptic genre stories.


    Any additional comments?

    Great premise and story idea, left me wanting more. Outstanding writing however and would likely read authors next effort

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Sanders 06-03-17
    M. Sanders 06-03-17 Member Since 2015
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    "A Great American Story!"

    I throughly enjoyed this novel. The best way I can describe this book is as follows:
    - A tragic story similar to the girl in the movie Sarafina.
    - A story of family history similar to that of the novel The Passage
    - The story telling (news accounts and excerpts from history) similar to that of the book World War Z
    - A revised history / future based upon the Civil War, similar to the book the Underground Airlines
    Also, the narration was excellent. Dion Graham "nailed" the southern accents perfectly. Overall, I felt like I really got to know the characters in the novel, especially Sarat. I would love to see this novel turned into a movie. Omar El Akkad, you did good. very good.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PearlyBaker Prairie Village, KS 04-22-17
    PearlyBaker Prairie Village, KS 04-22-17 Member Since 2017

    I am social worker by trade, but fantasize about being paid to read or having an alpaca farm.

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    "I Can't Tell a Pillow From a Stone"

    I cannot tell if it's the company I keep, the books I read or the reality of Putin, Trump, Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, et al but I am a little paranoid these days. For instance, I'm constantly mapping out how I'd get back to HQ and set up a perimeter from where I stand in the city or country as it were. This must read novel is like Skagboys, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, The Stand and Oryx and Crake combined. Okay, it's nothing like Skagboys but like all these pieces I never wanted it to end and cannot wait to read this one again.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colleen C 04-10-17
    Colleen C 04-10-17
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    "This is a must read."

    This is a powerful piece that gripped me from the beginning. A true thought experiment imagining the horrors of war as it exists in the world today as they might look in America's future.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    james salem, OR, United States 07-11-17
    james salem, OR, United States 07-11-17 Member Since 2006
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    "hoping for something similar 2 paolo bacigalupi"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Story was interesting, but hardly a page turner.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Omar El Akkad? Why or why not?

    Possibly, if it was a daily deal.


    What about Dion Graham’s performance did you like?

    he was good.


    Was American War worth the listening time?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    Was hoping for something similar to paolo bacigalupi's writing (Water Knife, Windup Girl etc...), had some interesting ideas.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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