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Originally posted at Amazon.com, but was removed. Read More.
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One Need Not Eat All of an Egg...
A State of Disobedience {Hardcover}
A State of Disobedience {Paperback}
Tom Kratman
{Amazon required me to award at least one star -- reflected by the above rating.
Proper rating is BOMB}
To read the replacement review i submitted (which was posted) after Amazon removed this one, Click Here
...to know that it is bad.

After painfully slogging through the clangingly turgid prose of the first two chapters of this book, i skipped here and there ahead to confirm my initial suspicions.

Yup -- this is another Radical Reactionary Right screed against Liberalism, Big Government and the current Big Hoohoo Demon of the Radical Reactionary Right, Hilary Clinton. At least the author doesn't seem to be a racist as so many of those who claim to be "conservatives" these days seem to be, though homophobia does seem to be on the menu.

Basically, this is, as the one blurb from an established author that Baen seems to have been able to get (and more on that in a moment) establishes, thereby saving us from the trouble of actually having to read the whole book, a novel of the "Second American Revolution", when the Righteous Of The Nation shall find that they can Stand No More and Rise Up and Sweep The Libruls From The Land and then rewrite the Constitution to make sure that it clearly states those Principles Of True Americanism that all Right-Thinking Americans understand in their hearts so well that the Founding Fathers actually *meant* to put in there, had they simply been as clever as today's Radical Reactionary Right.

Along the way, it appears that we again take a few swipes at such vaguely-equine-shaped damp spots on the ground as Waco, the ATF, and, of course, that old bugaboo of Congresscritters and the American Medical Association, Socialised Medicine, which, as it makes appearances in the sections that i read, is Simply Horrible, as any right-thinking member of the Radical Reactionary Right knows, despite the evidence to the contrary of the British and Canadian experiences (as reported by virtually everyone i know who has had significant contact with them...)

The Villains Of The Piece appear to be thinly-veiled caricatures of Hilary Clinton, Janet Reno and such, and the Good Guys are, of course, those Simple American Patriots who see through their lies and deceptions in the end. (One such, in particular, is presented as a simple Son Of The Soil, and not an Intellectual, by such tricks of "Characterisation" as having him amusingly misquote Dickens. Gosh, what cutting wit.) Too bad he had to have a *female* Evil Librul President for his story, there are any number of places where some really villainous mustache twirling would have helped establish characterisation.

And, at the end, there is a list of "Proposed Amendments to the Constitution" brought in by a Constitutional Convention convened after the Successful Second American Revolution; these are, really , the purpose of the book, to lay out the author's Formula For Salvation Of the American Way:

One, recognising that those pesky words about "A well-organised militia..." can always be used to cast doubt on the legitimacy of unlimited "Keep and Bear Arms", begins by *abolishing* the old Second Amendment and writing a new one which allows private citizens to possess anything short of Weapons Of Mass Destruction.

Another specifically forbids the Federal Government from enforcing the "freedom from religion" that people like Thomas Jefferson wrote into the Constitution.

Another, which is designed to eliminate such bodies as the FCC, ICC and FDA, requires such bodies' staffs to be reduced by 10% every year for ten years; presumably this is intended to eliminate them in ten years -- in fact, a 10% annual reduction in staff would result in a strength of 34.9% of the original staffing -- assuming that there were enough in the original staff that one wouldn't have to clip a few fingers or toes to meet the year's reduction. Perhaps the author, who is a lawyer, not an engineer or mathemetician, meant "ten percent of present levels". That is not, however, what he wrote.

Yet a fourth amendment (i am taking them somewhat out of order) outlaws "...direct taxes ... levied upon living persons..."

And my two favourites relate to proposed changes in the Judiciary -- one allows a simple majority of Governors of the States to simply overturn any Supreme Court decision (This would be, i assume, referred to as the Jackson/Marshall Memorial Amendment), and another *requires* that one of the Justices of the Spreme Court be eliminated from the Court by popular vote of the people, every four years. After sixteen or twenty years of this, why, we would have a Court that exactly reflected the Will Of The People in its decisions.

What a horrible and terrifying thought.

The rest of the proposed Amendments are as bad -- if all were to be ratified, taking us back to an even more poorly designed "nation" than existed under the original Articles of Confederation, i'd expect that it wouldn't be more than a decade or two before Georgia nuked California. (Of course, the Radical Reactionary Right would probably applaud such an action...)

As to the author blurb on the book's wrapper -- it is from fellow Baen author (and now-collaborator {Watch on the Rhine, q.v.}) John Ringo, and reads (in full) "Probably the most realistic depiction of a second American Revolution ever written." No mention of what a great book it is, or how the author brings it glowingly alive on the page, or how he thinks that, as presented by the author, it seems like a Good Idea.

The phrase "damning with faint praise" comes to mind; my own capsule review would be "Worst political SF from a mainline publisher since 'Farnham's Freehold'".

Could i give less than one star under the Amazon system -- perhaps even negative numbers -- i would have.

The late Dorothy Parker, reviewing another work in another time, gave me the perfect finish for this review of this book: "This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly.....it should be thrown with great force."
A comment on the foregoing review, from another Amazon reviewer's post:
Bah. If the left had their way this book which offends them so badly by portraying the truth would be burned and the author sent to a Gulag.

Actually, no -- it is the Left (by that reviewer's apparent terms) that generally opposes almost all censorship.

The same reviewer opens her review with a remark about reviewers who claim a book is Very Badly Written, but seem unable to cite so much as a single passage to bear out this claim -- in the case of this book, i again find myself quasi-quoting a marvellous catty remark -- in this case Mary McCarthy's comment on Lillian Hellman:

Every word he writes is bad, and that includes "a", "an" and "the".

I refuse to use the label "Conservative" to describe the Radical Reactionary Right; they are *not* conservatives, and have so debased the word by example and misuse, just as the Radical Loonie Left have so misused and debased the word "Liberal" (and vice-versa), that neither is usable any more in honest discourse or debate.

Both "liberal" and "conservative" have classic definitions, which do not match the manner in which most mainstream American pundits use them these days.

A murrain on all of 'em.

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After this review had been up on Amazon.com for some months (gathering a reader "Helpful" vote about 19 to 8 in favour), it disappeared. I wrote to Amazon Customer Service asking what happened, and received a reply that read (in part):
Your review of A State of Disobedience was removed because your comments in large part focused on your personal opinions of the subject matter, rather than reviewing the title itself.

While we appreciate your opinions on the subject, the intent of customer reviews is to assist our customers in making an informed purchase decision. We provide our customer reviews section for you to comment on the merits of the book and the author's writing style. We ask that you not use it as a place for discourse on the subject matter.
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So i submitted this one in place of the other:
Very Bad     
This is a Bad Book.

It is Badly Written; it almost reads as if English is the author's second language and not all that well learned, at that.

This would be okay if it had an interesting plot (it doesn't) or effectively delivered its political message. (Doesn't do that, either.)

As a story it is improbable in the extreme and ludicrously overwritten, relying heavily on thinly-disguised caricatures of people like Hillary Clinton and Janet Reno, and the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents, and more than a touch of homophobia.

Not worth the time or the money; if you want a book which espouses these politics, try L. Neil Smith's "Win Bear" books, which express much the same political view and are rather better written.
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