“My daughter died in that parochial school in Arlington Heights a couple weeks ago. She was a teacher. One of those jihadists Soetoro let into the country shot her in the face.”
Stephen Coonts’s latest novel is not for the faint of heart.
In Liberty’s Last Stand, Coonts depicts an America ravaged by imported terrorism and federal overreach. After a series of terrorist attacks, Pres. Barry Soetoro—a fictionalized version of Barack Obama—uses the chaos to his advantage, ordering martial law, declaring himself dictator and imprisoning his political enemies. Texas secedes in disgust.
What follows is a clash between Texas and federal forces, an epic underdog story with subject matter so timely it feels as though it were written yesterday. Everything from the idea of ‘Texit’ to the depiction of refugees planning terrorist attacks demonstrates just how strongly Coonts understands the thoughts and fears of today’s America.
One of the questions Coonts poses in the novel is whether Pres. Soetoro is a fool who believes the ideals he spouts, or, conversely, whether Soetoro is an irredeemable villain who knows his policies are harmful but promulgates them anyway.
The question of Soetoro’s motivation provides the opportunity for an interesting depth of character in an otherwise two-dimensional villain, and the book is best when it explores this possibility. One of the most vividly rendered moments involves Soetoro equating himself with Jesus and proclaiming a genuine belief that his policies are necessary for the country’s salvation.
Much of the rest of the book, however, leaves this possibility unturned. Soetoro is depicted as a wholly evil character, with disturbing sexual proclivities to boot. While Soetoro is among the most interesting characters of the book, the depth of his villainy sometimes crosses the line of what is plausible.
But this is a small quibble given that the book is, at its heart, action-driven rather than character-driven. The book crackles with suspense and excitement as the Texas heroes launch attacks against the tyrannical government. Even a trip to the grocery market becomes a thrilling battle of wills as looters storm the store.
The dialogue, too, is engrossing to the highest degree, combining insightful political analysis with a believably conversational tone. The book is worth reading for the dialogue alone, particularly one passage that connects global warming to the fuel industry and the Democratic party’s interests. As political commentary, Liberty’s Last Stand rivals the best political pundits.
Coonts’s new novel reminds us that troubling times can inspire great books. Find out more about it at Regnery’s website.