American War (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Logo
American War Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
6 on hand, as of Feb 21 2:45am

Staff Reviews

This is a novel about the future, which in El Akkad’s vision is one long slog of war and plague. It explores the distortions of transcription: everything you learn about the pivotal events in America’s Second Civil War comes from the diaries of a combatant, interrupted by excerpts from interviews, hearings, and think pieces and retold by the combatant’s nephew who idolized her. It is also a fable about the present. Despite its setting in the future, it is a novel of unflinching reflection. The weight of American War lands when you stop reading it as science fiction, when you can no longer set aside the horror of its familiarity. -Lauren

— From Spring Booknotes 2017

Why are old wars fought over and over and how does war related violence, trauma and displacement affect families and communities? American War will make you think about this, understand it better and care. 

— From Karen


"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.

About the Author

OMAR EL AKKAD was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning journalist and author who has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantanamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780451493583
ISBN-10: 0451493583
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English