Set in the near future, world trade has collapsed and the American economy has entered a depression. The economically dispossessed are drifting into camps that are being set up in city parks across the country. Invited to the White House, the charismatic evangelist, Richard Preston, offers up a radical idea. In Congress the Nationalists, led by Milo Meadows III and Moralists, led by President Henry Dukes, are increasingly resorting to the black arts as they vie for the power held by the still dominant Rationalists whose belief in scientific management is being challenged on all sides. While Carrie Holden, a budding astrophysicist is being prevented from getting her doctorate by the backlash against science, her friend Jay Chandler is soliciting support from the billionaire Marjory Anhauser in his bid to run for election to the House on the Moralist ticket.

My Review

The concept of this book is made even more believable by the current state of affairs that we are experiencing in the world right now. In fact, bits and pieces of this story is kind of similar to today's world. That is what makes this book even more intriguing. 

While, I did like this book, I did find myself struggling some to fully engage with the story with my full attention. This is due to the characters. I found myself not really forming that close bond with them. Therefore, their voices were just kind of monotone for me. 

Yet, big props to Mr. Mercer-Nairne because it was the story itself that kept me reading despite the lack of character connection. For this reason I would read another book from this author.

Excerpt, Chapter 3
by Robert Mercer-Nairne


Henry Dukes liked biographies and considered himself a straightforward man who spoke plain. He had been married to the same woman for forty years and went to church on Sunday. The popular rhetoric and verbal incontinence of his predecessor were alien to him. As the governor of Wyoming he had run a tight ship and although one of the least populous states in the Union, saw no reason why his presidential administration should run along different lines. Knowing that he was regarded by the East Coast establishment as an unsophisticated mountain boy, in spite of being sixty-three and having reached the rank of major general in one of his country’s interminable wars, he had appointed Seymour “SS” Stone as his Attorney General. A diminutive man with thick glasses, sparse hair and a high voice who had a nose for human weakness, Stone knew not only the corridors but the back

passages of power and was widely feared.

The President moved the papers on his desk a little to the left and then moved them back again a little to the right. There weren’t many and they were well ordered. He did not like a cluttered desk.

He’d been in the oval office before of course but as the governor of a state with only one seat in the House of Representatives and three electoral votes his views had carried little weight. Even the high-flown annual economic policy symposium at Jackson Hole functioned largely without him. How things had changed. People were searching for certainty and his simple homespun message had secured him his party’s nomination and then the presidency. As he saw it, America was hungry for God and with the parable of the five loaves and two fishes as his guide, he would deliver. The intercom on his desk clicked open.

“Attorney General Stone is here to see you, Mr. President.”

“Have him come in Eunice.”

He’d brought his secretary with him from Cheyenne.

“Yes Mr. President,” she acknowledged. “Now unless there’s anything else, I’ll be going.”

“No dear, that’s it for the day. I’ll see you Monday. Have a good one.”

“You too Mr. President.”

He knew Eunice was missing the mountains. How could one not? He would like to have gone after a trout or two himself. But there was a job to be done and she was as committed as he.

“SS, come on in.”

“Mr. President.”

Stone’s high falsetto voice had a mesmerizing quality to it that drew you in like a Latin mass. Whether what he was saying was good or evil seemed less important than how he was saying it. As a Methodist, Henry thought there was something Catholic about Stone, but didn’t hold that against him. Apostasy was blind to denomination. They sat down opposite one another on the comfy sofas and a staffer brought in a tray with two glasses and a jug of lemonade. As far as he knew, his guest had never touched alcohol, another characteristic that distanced him from most of the Washington crowd.

“Where are we with the religious leaders SS?” he asked. They had drawn together the names of all the most prominent preachers, those with the longest reach, to see if some sense of political direction could be established.

“They are keen to be led out of the wilderness Mr. President, but their traditions are separate and of course the Constitution guarantees them freedom from government.”

“Quite so,” the President acknowledged, “but it is not religious approach we are interested in. It is the struggle between belief and doubt. The hardships people are experiencing are causing them to lose faith in a social order that was not religious

but supposed to be managed and scientific. We cannot ask them to have faith in what has failed. We have to rebuild faith around something new.”

“Faith on its own won’t feed families Mr. President.”

“I understand that, damn it. But I can’t short-circuit our failed systems without cover. The truth is we lost our way. We became too self-centered, too greedy, and we thought science had all the answers when we weren’t even asking the right questions. Values matter. You know that. I know that and probably everyone else knows that. But by placing value-free science on the altar of our secular church we forgot and started to act as if values did not count. We are now paying the price, not because our systems were intrinsically bad but because we used them unwisely. Only with God back at the center of our lives, however we choose to address that great receptacle of eternal values, will we recover our sense of balance.”

Seymour Stone allowed himself a thin smile.

“I have never heard God described as a container before Mr. President!”

At first Henry looked perplexed. He knew words could be a tangle.

“If I say ‘Him’ I’m in trouble; if I say ‘Her’ I’m in trouble; if I say ‘It’ I’m in trouble. At least receptacle keeps me out the clutches of the LGBTQ people, or however many letters we’ve got to. You can see why religious discourse is so difficult. Mind you, it is no more contrived than quarks, gluons or the Big Bang.

Anyway, the point is that God, as a single shared expression of what we are, needs to be put back at the center of people’s lives – period: a complete change of culture.”

“We’ve made a start Mr. President.”

“Detroit and New Jersey: I read about that – violence to channel violence.”

“It’s best you keep your distance.”

“How much more do we need?”

“As much as it takes to put science, especially the science of creation, back into its box.” The Attorney General’s words had a lyrical clarity about them as he went on: “horror and hate are fundamental to human nature. They are our teachers. Horror tells us what we should fear; hate tells us what we should destroy. We have to make examples of what must be hated, in a manner that invokes fear.”

President Dukes lent forward to reach the jug and filled his and the Attorney’s glasses.

“Scientific privilege should be hurt, particularly the arrogant sort”, the President stressed, “the kind that treats mankind as some sort of mathematical residual - as a goddamn nonentity. If horror and fear will help me bind this country back together again, then I need horror and I need fear. Right now things are falling apart. People have lost faith in authority. And when authority lets so many down, I can’t blame them. There is real hatred out there SS. We need to control that hatred before it

controls us.”

Attorney Stone sipped his lemon as if he was savoring a fine wine.

“The preachers must pull their weight,” he said in his sing- song voice. “There has to be a new vision of hope.”

The two men talked about trivia for a while, although in this SS was clearly out of his depth. The retired general tried to interest him in the subject of fishing, but without success. The flow of conversation improved briefly when Henry recalled the awkward court-martial case that had brought them together, but neither man had much appetite for it. Thanks to Stone the army had been protected but an innocent soldier sacrificed: another casualty of war. When the Attorney General took one last sip of lemonade and made his excuses it was a relief for them both. He left, passing the President’s wife in the corridor on her way in.

“I don’t know why you appointed that man, Henry,” she said when the President’s departing guest was well out of earshot. “He’s really not very nice.”

“Power has its dark side, Mary. Always has had and always will.”

She shrugged her shoulders dismissively.

“Try not to be late dear,” she counseled. “The Reverend Preston and his wife Abigail are joining us for dinner. We’ll be in the private quarters.”




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