‘The Last Centurion’ by John Ringo was a frequent recommendation over at the AOSHQ Sunday Book Thread. (Yes, Morons can read.) I received a paperback copy as a Christmas gift and finished it off about a week ago. The book takes place in the not-too-distant future (2019) in a world that has been hit by three catastrophic events. 1. A devastating plague caused by a mutation of the Avian Flu kills off somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of the population. 2. The onset of a mini ice age resulting in massive crop failures. 3. Hillary Clinton is President of the United States.
OK, she’s not actually called ‘Hillary Clinton’ in the book, but it’s totally Hillary Clinton. And her response to these crises is absolutely believable in the vein of ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ The disruption in oil supplies leads her to undertake a Chavista-like nationalization of the oil companies. The crop failures and impending food shortages leads her to nationalize agricultural companies and farms; which are distributed to left-wing cronies. By 2020, she has used her emergency powers (granted by a Democrat majority Congress and upheld by a leftist majority Supreme Court) to shut down all opposition radio and TV networks, and throw her Republican opponent in prison.
But that’s all background. The plot is about an Army Captain and his company who have been left behind in Iran as the USA withdraws all forces from around the world to deal with its domestic problems. He has to, somehow, get his men home. Their fight across a war-plague-and-famine ravaged Middle East forms the journey of the novel.
So, was it any good? I’m not a big fan of the first-person narrative style, but I got past it. I liked the cultural, sociological, and political observations, and the way Ringo used the crises as a way to demonstrate how they would play out. The battle scenes were kind of perfunctory. Maybe it’s because I’ve been laboring for almost a year to get a battle scene ‘right’ in my own writing that I felt his could have used a bit more clarity and detail. But I can recommend it, and I’m at least going to check out some of his other stuff.