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Friday, 7 January 2011

A short review of two self-published books--and a warning

Run a google search on "someone killed erik," (with the word 'else' inserted as the second word) and you'll find one of the books I'm referring to. For the other one, use "he had to go feed hogs" (with the word 'his' inserted before the last word). That should be enough information to suffice, should anyone be determined to read the books. No purchase is required, but I must warn the reader: don't expect to get any sleep tonight once you get started.

These two fictional books were both written about the same time (1995-1997), so I don't think that the authors influenced each other. But they both carry the same theme: a series of targeted assassinations of members of the government who were perceived to be enemies of the American people, with the threat that there will be many more unless certain unconstitutional laws are repealed. The government resists, but in the end, the assassins' demands are met with a minimum of casualties to their side. Other than that, and an adherence to the low moral standards of modern publishing, the two books don't have a whole lot in common. Oh, there is one other thing: Black Americans, and the neighborhoods in which they live, aren't portrayed all that favourably in either book.

In 'Erik', the assassins are a handful of former Special Forces, and their targets are strictly limited to politicians who voted for a pork-barrel budget. The goal is likewise limited, to passing a constitutionally limited budget. Obviously, the assassins will need more motivation than just this, so it turns out that they have personal vendettas against at least one of the politicians. As the story unfolds, the President's Chief of Staff hires a renegade CIA agent to arrange the murders of a few more politicians who favoured a balance budget, both to take advantage of the general mayhem and to settle a score on the other side. The original assassins manage to track down and capture the renegade, and use sodium pentothal to get a taped confession out of him that would bring down the government were it ever to be released. Made aware of the tape, the government capitulates to their demands, and the assassins are never arrested--nor is the tape ever released. No long-term results ensue from this fast-paced but limited campaign.

In 'Hogs', the action is much more widespread, and for far more basic causes. The American gun culture has been chafing for decades under the heavy hand of federal regulation, but is never quite willing to summon a call to arms over it until the BATF stages yet another military-style assault on the home of one of its members, thought to be vacant at the time. The lone occupant of the house, another gun owner, discerning that the house is under attack by armed intruders but not that they are government agents, shoots most of them before realising what he has done. Recognising that he has now completed the first phase spoken of in the maxim, "The first one is expensive, but all the rest are free," he goes on to kill the rest of the team. But first he manages to elicit a videotaped confession from the leader of the raid. The information on the tape convinces him that killing the six BATF agents who had targeted him and his two friends wasn't enough; he has to set his sights on them all. Within twenty-four hours, he has killed eighteen more--all armed, and all seeking to do him and his law-abiding gun-owner friends serious harm in an attempt to part them from their weapons hoards.

At this point he launches an ingenious scheme, one that came to him while he was interrogating the BATF raid leader. He assumes the identity of the agent and begins to fill the internet with missives, supposedly from the now-renegade agent, calling Americans to arms against their jackbooted oppressors. It's now open season on gun confiscators and the legislators who enable them--a target group of thousands. A grass-roots movement emerges to spread the killing, and at a crucial moment the video is released, with the result that the FBI finds no one willing to cooperate with their investigations. As the killings mount, the President goes on nationwide TV to capitulate, proclaiming a general amnesty for the rebels, and the war is over--but not until three top government officials with collective blood on their hands from Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the recent BATF raids are shot in the face at point-blank range.

These works are both fictional, but there is a major difference in their publication history. The first, 'Erik', was written purely as a political thriller. Although no publisher would touch it when it came out, the author went on to write many such books--all best sellers (one of which was mentioned elsewhere in this blog), and his original work was then picked up by a major publisher in paperback. The second (though it preceded it in time) is more autobiographical, published within the gun culture and the author's only such work published to date. He has, indeed, been threatened against ever writing another one, and no major publisher has yet picked up paperback rights, although the first several printings sold out immediately. For some reason that I don't understand, however, both books can be read in their entirety without purchasing either--something extremely rare, and, even in this case, not widely known.

It would appear that the government knows there really isn't any danger of a few disgruntled ex-SEALs bringing down the administration just over pork-barrel spending. But they must have a lot to fear from a few million gun owners with nothing to lose turning their guns on those attempting to make them turn them over.

But here's the problem with fiction. Neither book, I believe, accurately depicts what sort of scenario would truly play out if targeted assassination became part of the American way of dealing with problems in their government. 'Erik', I think, comes the closest, with Erik saying:

"Last Friday we started a new chapter in our country's history, one that is potentially very dangerous. The idea that one small group can dictate, through violence, the policies of this country runs completely against all of the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded. These acts of terrorism absolutely and emphatically cannot be tolerated if we want to leave a civilized and democratic nation for future generations of Americans."
Shortly afterward, Erik was killed--by the other side, and in a far less civilised fashion, with all his bodyguards being blown up with him. Erik had a point, which 'Hogs' never quite developed: once you open season on law enforcement, you no longer control the battle. Killing will escalate on both sides. For example, in 'Hogs', there were some grisly murders of BATF agents along with their families by people with vendettas against them; but no corresponding wholesale murders of gun owners' families, despite the BATF and FBI's proven record at Ruby Ridge and Waco. Instead, the agents only target the gun owners themselves, and always in such a way as to give them a sporting chance (i.e., no more than six armed and armoured agents per gun owner at a time).

"He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword." These words were spoken by someone accused of insurrection and treason, who never took up the sword even when he knew that the jackboots were coming to lynch him. It's a maxim that the authors of 'Erik' and 'Hogs' don't quite seem to have caught on to; in their books, the good guys always win, and seldom suffer any casualties. It doesn't work that way in a real live war: the main goal in a war is for each side to inflict the maximum of casualties on the other side, while suffering the minimum of casualties on their own. The best proven way of accomplishing this is for the military on either side to focus the bulk of their killing machinery on the respective civilians on the other side. Thus, in a war, the African maxim is always proved true:

"When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt the most."
I don't recommend that any of my readers try to implement government change by targeted assassination. Once let slip, the dogs of war are likely to come back and bite the hands--and throats--of those who loosed their bonds; and before too long, those of their wives and children as well.

UPDATE DEC '11: The 'hogs' search will no longer get you to the free book I review here; it will, however, lead in only two steps to a set of freeper books that are available for extensive preview and paint a more apocalyptic picture of this scenario, one in which the government rather than the gun owners fires the first shots, and is more than prepared for their backlash.

1 comment:

  1. I trust that my readers inside the Beltway will believe me that the timing of this post was purely coincidental with what happened in Tucson today. My note of caution still stands.


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