A review of Foreign Enemies And Traitors, by Nelson Hultberg (Dallas, TX United States)
Will America survive the upcoming years as a "sovereign nation," or will the hideous dream of one-world government be our fate? This is the paramount issue facing America in the 21st century; it transcends all other concerns.
In Foreign Enemies and Traitors, Matt Bracken has created a brilliant Atlas Shrugged-like narrative of how this issue might play out amidst the economic meltdown now consuming us. Conservatives and libertarians throughout America will take to this tale like the colonists took to Tom Paine in 1776.
As the story begins, the Second Great Depression (what Bracken has dubbed the "Greater Depression") rages throughout America. The country is splitting up geographically with several secessionist movements in response to a radical leftist administration recently ushered into power in Washington. But the country is also splitting up geologically due to a once-in-a-century earthquake that levels Memphis, TN and the surrounding Mississippi River valley. This causes massive panic made all the worse by hordes of refugees, pillaging war lords, and the inevitable reversion to barbarism that such societal collapses bring.
In response to the chaos derived from the depression, the secessionist movements and the earthquake, America's President has invited "foreign troops" under the aegis of U.N. control into the country to try and suppress the rebels and re-establish a centralized government under Washington's grip.
Mr. Bracken thrusts into this mix a cast of heroic characters with names like Boone Vikersun and Phil Carson (think Daniel and Kit if your historical memory is sluggish) -- to fight a guerrilla war in, of all places, the state of Tennessee against the overweening powers of a grotesquely corrupt Washington. Pure gold! Boone and Carson in the 21st century fighting for the Republic.
The female lead, Jenny McClure, is a winsome, feisty teenager -- just waking up to the cruelty of an adult world turned upside down -- and about as courageous as humans get. Upon reading of her trials and how she measures up to them, the emotion felt is twofold: immense awe and the hope that if life's tribulations ever presented such dilemmas to ourselves, our reactions would be equally as spirited in manner.
The plot is tension-racked unfolding with startling surprises right up to the end. There are countless scenes in which courage, patriotism, and honor come into play in such riveting ways as to bring that tingling sensation up and down one's spine and the nape of one's neck.
At stake is a clash of governing philosophies between the socialist left and the free-enterprise right, between the "new Constitution" illegally rammed through in a panicky Constitutional Convention and the "old Constitution" which spawned America from the beginning and was the law of the land for 125 years until collectivists degraded it into a "living document" to be reinterpreted with Mad Hatter's logic.
Overlying all this is the defense backbone of the nation -- our military forces -- and what side they must choose in this epic clash between the treasonous forces of the new-world order in Washington and the loyalist forces of freedom amidst the patriotic states. The former trumpets the "new" Constitution and its implementation, while the latter fights for the "old" Constitution and its restoration. Which Constitution do we uphold? The military's leading generals must decide which to defend, and it makes for a crackerjack story that will keep you reading late into the night as Bracken's trio of Americanist heroes -- Boone, Carson, and Jenny -- pull off one escapade after another to defend the rebellious states and attempt to take the country back from a quisling President and his perverse entourage of socialist apparatchiks.
Bracken writes vividly and integrates all the subtle nuances of today's leftist media / academy brainwash into the dialogue. His grasp of all their pernicious semantic twistings is impeccable. Moreover the didacticism of the book is integrated into the scenes perfectly. No long-winded lectures to take away from the pace of the story; but numerous pithy and powerful expressions of what freedom, the Constitution, and America are all about come forth from his characters.
Foreign Enemies and Traitors could be one of those "turning point" books of American history. I only hope that someone like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Patrick Buchanan will read it. It is a book that would take off like wildfire if they started promoting it. Of course, the political left will come down on this tome like a blitzkrieg to try and kill the message of its talented author if it looks like widespread popularity is coming his way. But that goes with the territory when one writes of patriotism and honor in an era that worships acquiescence and popularity.
This is a book that all red-blooded Americans will enjoy immensely -- not just because it is a terrific political accounting of what America's problems are and what the military's proper response to the constitutional implications must be, but also because it is a splendid, scintillating story. The author has combined the two areas of "message" and "plot" together in a most persuasive and entertaining manner. Move over Tom Clancy.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas. His articles have appeared in publications such as The Dallas Morning News, the San Antonio Express-News, Insight, The Social Critic, Ideas on Liberty, FinancialSense.com, and Gold-Eagle.com.
Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista review by the Southern Poverty Law Center Books on the Right: A Nativist's Paranoid Vision by Susy Buchanan
July 2007In 1973, a Frenchman named Jean Raspail wrote a bitter and paranoid novel about the "invasion" of his native land by starving Third World refugees. The book was a racist vision of the consequences of non-white immigration, aided and abetted, in the author's view, by the weak-minded liberals who failed to resist it. For almost 35 years, The Camp of the Saints has been a Bible to the radical right.
Now, courtesy of former Navy SEAL Matthew Bracken, comes the American version, a portrait of the apocalypse Bracken fears will overtake America thanks to undocumented immigration from the south. The book is a fictionalized version of the Aztlan conspiracy theory, the idea that Mexico is secretly planning a "reconquista" (reconquering) of the seven states of the Southwest, that now animates large swaths of the anti-immigration movement. It's being plugged on extremist websites, in gun magazines and similar electronic venues, and on immigrant-bashing radio shows like Peter Boyles' program on KHOW-AM in Denver.
This isn't the first angry, self-published novel from Bracken. His new book, Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista, is the second in a series that began with another paranoid fantasy about gun control and evil agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a favorite bete noire of the extreme right. His latest book, marked by an enthusiastic interest in busty women, is a xenophobe's racy vision of hell.
[A long detailed plot summary with numerous "spoilers" is snipped here. It can be read at the SPLC link.]
Domestic Enemies plods along between the over-the-top action sequences. Bracken oversexualizes his gun-loving heroine, devoting as much prose to her breasts as he does her weapons, which is a lot, and many minor players come off as one-dimensional caricatures. But a sexy heroine shooting guns of varying calibers at liberal, communist, open-borders villains in a world destroyed by immigration and multiculturalism is an irresistible fantasy for the audience this genre of fiction attracts, no matter the novel's numerous flaws.
Of course, this fictionalization is hardly necessary, even for those given to this kind of thing. All one need do is listen to real-life zealots like Glenn Spencer, head of the hate group American Border Patrol, who puts it like this: "Our country is being invaded by Mexico with hostile intentions. When it blows up, they can't say we didn't tell them, when the blood starts flowing on the border and in L.A. We're [talking] about la reconquista."
David Codrea review of Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista, GUNS Magazine, February 2007Matthew Bracken's latest novel is a brave book. It's brave because it's a sequel, and expectations from a readership that embraced his first book, Enemies Foreign And Domestic, are high. It's brave because he believes in the grand purpose of the right to bear arms, and that runs against the mindset of mainstream publishers. And it's brave because Bracken makes a harsh prediction of where this country is headed should the unchecked flow of illegal immigration not be halted and reversed.
That the protagonist is a female of part Arab descent, and that she is joined in her quest by Americans from all heritages, will not matter to those who usurp the banner of diversity to promote intolerance of dissent. And those will be many if sales show DETR is being widely read.
And it should be widely read, because the potential for events to unfold as described seems inevitable based on current trends. Bracken nails the probability of near future disintegration of the Republic with terrifying prescience. In his words:
"Reconquista begins five years after the end of EFAD, with a leading character from the first book in a detention camp for suspected terrorists ... this allows the reader to experience a significant deterioration of the state of freedom in American. The plot takes that character on a journey across the Southwest, which is then in the opening stages of a low-intensity civil war."
Bracken's latest page-turner takes us down dark paths. Their twists fill us with dread. But through this he manages to instill hope -- in his characters and his readers -- that if we can summon up the courage to say, "No more!" and to act, we can once more win back the right to consider ourselves the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The exception to this is when the story asks its audience to accept a single impossibility (or near-impossibility) as fact, and the writer then weaves a 'What if' tale in which all the characters behave logically and consistently in the face of the one anomaly: What if a man somehow became invisible? (This has been done successfully several times.) What if a twelve-year-old boy found himself in a thirty-year-old body? (The movie Big, with Tom Hanks.) What if the South Africans developed a time machine that could take them and their equipment back to a date in the middle of the Civil War, but no earlier? (Harry Turtledove's Guns of the South.) Stephen King, of course, is the master of making his readers fall into a story with a central premise that is impossible.
Writers of political novels have considerably less leeway in what they can reasonably ask their readers to accept as a given. Political novels can't ask us to believe something we think is impossible. The further they stray from existing conditions, the more likely the reader (this one, at least) will be unable to accept the imagined situation that the author lays out. In one infamous, racist (and excruciatingly boring) 'novel,' the author gave us an America where, for racial reasons, rape was no longer a crime. Yeah, right.
In Unintended Consequences, set in the present day, the readers are asked to accept that a principal player in the BATF would arrange to plant evidence so as to invoke the asset forfeiture laws. Since BATF has been dinged in court before for doing just this, there should have been no suspension of disbelief there. Then readers had to accept that the BATF agent might have had the bad luck to schedule these illicit efforts when someone with skills and intelligence was watching, unseen, from nearby. Unlikely? Yes, but worlds away from impossible.
In Matthew Bracken's first novel, Enemies Foreign and Domestic (also set in the present day), he asked us to accept that a principal player in the BATF would engineer a mass shooting at a football stadium and frame a homeless man for the crime, so as to increase nationwide antigun outrage and pave the way for his own BATF strike team with sweeping powers. Though asking us to believe a government agent would engineer premeditated mass murder for political advancement is a bit of a stretch, the evil and overreaching government agent is a common (and to my mind, perfectly acceptable) antagonist in the world of fiction.
Bracken's sequel to EFAD, Domestic Enemies: the Reconquista, is set about five or six years in the future. Domestic Enemies' underlying theme is the retaking of the Southwest by Hispanics who view this region as rightfully theirs. This is not a new concept for me; when I was in college in 1978, a Hispanic campus group calling itself La Causa espoused these same goals. My chief memory of them was that they seized control of and 'occupied' the school's snack bar to increase awareness of their plight. (They were unamused when I then told them, okay then, no cheeseburgers; fix me a couple of burritos with hot sauce instead.)
Domestic Enemies: the Reconquista doesn't just ask us to accept that Hispanics want to retake the Southwest. It asks us to accept that in a few years they will have nearly completely achieved this goal. In Domestic Enemies, we are shown a New Mexico with a milicia to enforce existing fictional 'Spanish only' and 'land reform' laws. Storefronts with signs printed in English are regularly razed, and large estates owned by gringos are seized and turned over to formerly illegal aliens. All of this is done with official state sanction. The entire state of Arizona is a nightmare where the lack of a similar milicia means a constant state of siege between Arizona residents and invading hordes of thugs, similar to those Mel Gibson battled in Mad Max II: the Road Warrior, but with different accents. Citizens in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona regularly abandon their homes and take only what they can carry in their vehicles to the 'free states' of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Got the picture?
Domestic Enemies asks us to assume an America circa 2011 that has secret detention camps for ordinary citizens, an America with hyperinflation (gold $7000/ounce, gasoline $30/gallon), an America that has replaced the old paper currency with new 'blue bucks' at a 1-for-10 exchange rate, an America where lawlessness in the big cities and political corruption everywhere exceeds anything seen in real third-world hellholes in 2006. Is this too much to swallow? You be the judge.
The protagonist in Domestic Enemies is Ranya Bardiwell, the heroine of Bracken's first novel. The story begins with Ranya escaping from an indefinite sentence at a detention camp after she learns that the son she gave birth to (and that was taken from her) upon her incarceration was adopted as a newborn five years ago by FBI agents in Albuquerque. Thus begins Ranya's odyssey to track down and reclaim her son, and this is the central storyline of the book, set against the hellish backdrop of the Reconquista.
The Ranya of EFAD, Bracken's first book, was a bit too saccharine for my taste (Snow White is who she reminded me of.) Five years of hard labor in the detention camp has tempered her considerably, and in Domestic Enemies, I found myself cheering Ranya's pragmatism, inventiveness, and cunning. Without throwing any spoilers out, let's just say she and Cindy Caswell would likely be kindred spirits.
Finding her son is Ranya's main mission, and Bracken wisely avoids having Ranya singlehandedly stop the Reconquista. Instead, she picks her shots where she finds them, and manages to throw a few major monkey wrenches into the works of a corrupt government as she pursues her goal of reclaiming her son.
The second (and lesser) protagonist in the story is Alex Garabanda, the FBI agent who is the boy's adoptive father. Alex has considerable domestic problems of his own, along with a growing alarm at what he sees in New Mexico, and the FBI's unwillingness to do anything about it. Bracken strikes just the right tone with Alex, and with five-year-old Brian as well. Coping with these intolerable conditions are a diverse group of supporting characters who will likely remind you of friends you know; regular folks making the best of an awful situation.
Bracken gives us a great crop of antagonists, from Basilio Ramos, a note-perfect rendering of the archetypal vain Latin heartthrob who has discovered the joys of absolute power, to Homeland Security honcho Bob Bullard (carried over from EFAD), to the real-life bad guys you love to hate: billionaire socialist hedge fund operator Peter Kosimos, bipartisan socialist U.S. Senators Kelly and Montaine, and socialist former U.S. President 'Weasel Dave' Whitman.
A couple of the minor bad-guy characters are a bit over-the-top, such as the Reconquista-loving college professor from New England, and the adoptive mother's steroid-fueled bulldyke girlfriend (an IRS asset seizure agent), but I'd say they fall within the accepted realm of artistic license. There is one very minor character whose presence is so ludicrous and unrealistic that I think Bracken should delete him altogether from future printings of the novel, but maybe that's just me.
The action in Domestic Enemies is exciting, and as plausible as you will find in works of fiction. The technical details, at least the ones where I have any expertise, are dead on. The question remains: Is the America of a few years' hence portrayed in Domestic Enemies believable? This book addresses in fictional form a serious problem deserving of our attention: the problem of illegal immigration, anchor babies, and the long-term effects of a massive influx of people to our country who have no interest in adopting America's culture of individualism. My fear is that the nightmare conditions Bracken asks us to imagine for 2011 America are so far from what we have now, that mainstream readers (and reviewers) will dismiss his book as delusional ranting. That would be a grave error.
John Ross, author of "Unintended Consequences"
Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista is the sequel to Bracken's well received Enemies Foreign and Domestic (though The Reconquista can stand alone, Bracken suggests and I agree that the first book offers an important foundation to the events in the second). The first book was good enough that I was anxious for the sequel; after waiting two years, I'm delighted to say that The Reconquista was worth the wait.
Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista begins almost exactly five years after the conclusion of Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Ranya Bardiwell is back in the United States, but the country is one she can barely recognize.
Secret work camps have been established in various parts of the country where political dissidents are imprisoned and must endure forced labor. An out-of-control national debt in combination with such sky high expenses as entitlement programs and the War on Terror have resulted in rampant inflation, and the actions taken by the Federal Reserve to temper the problem have only made it worse. Cameras, spies, and domestic surveillance are everywhere. And the politically correct treatment of illegal aliens in the recent past has resulted in an effective takeover of the US southwest by Mexican and other south-of-the-border nationals.
Ranya doesn't care about these things other than as the obstacles they represent in pursuit of her primary goal: she wants her son back. The child, who was taken from her as an infant, has been adopted by government agents who live in New Mexico. Alexander Garabanda is an FBI agent, and his wife Karin works for the IRS. Together, they've been raising Brian as their own at least until Karin leaves Alex for another IRS agent. But even as Karin works to take Brian from Alex in the throes of a vicious divorce, Ranya begins her trek to New Mexico where she fully intends to recover her son or die in the attempt.
Everything is complicated, of course, by government surveillance and a determination by the authorities to silence any who might know more than they should about the deep-seated corruption that reaches the highest places. Even worse for Alex and Ranya, though, is the fact that New Mexico is effectively under control of the Mexican milicia which has made the American authorities titular at best. Danger abounds for any who don't subscribe to the goals of the so-called Reconquista and aren't the most militant of socialists, and it's only a matter of time until Alex and Ranya both get caught up in circumstances well beyond their individual control.
Meanwhile, treason and betrayals of causes large and small abound, and the viciousness of those who would gain and hold control knows virtually no bounds. Former ATF agent Bob Bullard is back and, holding true to the Peter Principle, has been promoted to the level of serious incompetence. But even he's making plans to escape the inevitable when was used to be the United States of America is parceled and distributed to those whose demands will be met in the name of expedience and entitlement.
When survival of the very Republic is in question, how can one woman rescue her son from the powers that be on either side of the political divide? Will Alex remain true to his oath to uphold the Constitution, or will the system chew him up and spit him out if he refuses to go along with the new status quo? Most important of all, will freedom survive? Or will those who believe the promises of anyone in authority help them, either actively or via their inaction, to effectively enslave the civilian population once and for all?
I really liked Enemies Foreign and Domestic. I thought it was well written, especially for a first novel, and rang entirely true to reality albeit a reality I wasn't keen on facing. But if anything, Matthew Bracken's writing abilities have improved in this second effort, and that's saying something; far more important, his virtual prescience concerning illegal immigration and its inevitable effect if it's not brought under control is terrifyingly realistic. That's just background, though, despite the framework being integral to the action.
Bracken's primary focus is on the main characters, and those characters are well realized enough that I ached for Ranya; was angry for and with Alex; and even empathized with a little boy who just wanted to know where his Daddy was. While a couple of the characters were just a little stereotypical (a certain judge and one IRS agent among them) in both their described appearances and their rhetoric ? the point, I think, could have been made a little less vehemently), on the whole, Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista is a must read for those who would like to see our country survive intact and including its freedoms past this generation.
The side plots almost don't deserve to be relegated to the side. They're important, too, from the machinations of high-placed federal officials to the nauseating sycophants who side with those they believe will, by hook or by crook, win the battle for the southwestern US. It's telling that Bracken, who formerly resided in San Diego, has only recently relocated elsewhere. It's clear that he believes at least some of what he's written, and he's done a good enough job in the creation of this near-future scenario that I do, too.