Republic: A Novel of America's Future
by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Published: 2007-05
Paperback : 344 pages
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A few years in our future, Ken Murphy is a National Guard Colonel and senior manager at a factory in tranquil Highview, West Virginia. When the local economy is thrown into a tailspin by a plant shutdown, Murphy is thrown out of work, with no way to pay for medical care for his son. 
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A few years in our future, Ken Murphy is a National Guard Colonel and senior manager at a factory in tranquil Highview, West Virginia. When the local economy is thrown into a tailspin by a plant shutdown, Murphy is thrown out of work, with no way to pay for medical care for his son. 
 In an attempt to prove they can operate on their own, the workers move in and occupy the factory. The government intervenes, escalating the labor dispute into a deadly confrontation.

As the conflict intensifies, politicians on both sides refuse to back down or compromise, tipping the nation into a bloody civil war.

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The rain rattled against the canvas roof of Karen Greenfield’s HUMMWV like popcorn, loud enough that she couldn’t hear the radio. The air had turned cold from the rain, and the inside of the humvee smelled like sweat and mildew. Her soaked Kevlar vest didn’t help, as moisture seeped through it and her olive-drab raincoat. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1) After September 11, a common question asked in the media was: are Americans willing to give up some freedoms in exchange for security? How would the founders of the United States answer this question?
2) Early in the novel, Ken Murphy struggles with how to provide health care for his chronically ill son following the loss of his job and health insurance. Should state or federal government provide health care in this type of situation?
3) Not long after the violence at the Saturn Microsystems plant, Congressman Clark comments that often the media simply repeat what they’ve been told by officials. Does the media do enough to question the statements of officials, or do they do too much? Do you trust the media to give unbiased reporting?
4) In two separate incidents in the book, the Department of Homeland Security responds to terrorist attacks by questioning and sometimes detaining members of the Arab-American community. Is this a reasonable response to terrorist threats?
5) Some time in the years before Republic takes place, women are integrated into the combat arms in the military. Do you believe women should be allowed to serve in infantry and other combat positions? Why or why not? How would this impact the operations of combat units?
6) As the conflict expands into violence, Captain Karen Greenfield of the West Virginia National Guard uses force to stop a DHS action that she believes is unconstitutional. What is the responsibility of a military officer to act when witnessing a violation of the Constitution or other laws?
7) During the governor’s press conference, the governor points out that FBI and DHS have made many arrests in the state for acts that were not criminal under West Virginia law. Today, the federal government aggressively prosecutes individuals who use or prescribe medicinal drugs for chronic pain, even though several states have made that usage legal. Should the federal government be able to override state and local laws?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

After the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building by a decorated Gulf War veteran, I struggled for years trying to understand how Timothy McVeigh came to commit an act of terror and mass murder. The reason for this struggle was simple: I saw too many parallels between his life and my own. I’d served in a tank battalion during the Gulf War; had killed during the war; and had suffered incredible remorse, despite the fact that those killings were both necessary from a military perspective.

As time went by, I asked myself the question: what series of events could cause ordinary Americans to take up arms against their own government? In recent years, I’ve watched as political discourse in our country has deteriorated into name-calling and seemingly mindless loyalty to political party, and it recalls all too vividly the nature of political questions in our country that led to the Civil War.

So, Republic is the result of those questions. Our hero is Ken Murphy, a 45 year old Lieutenant Colonel in the West Virginia National Guard; a family man who lost his wife to a senseless crime; a man struggling to provide adequate health care for a chronically ill child. Murphy, his ill son, and his daughter Valerie are the glue that hold the story together as the America we all know turns into an America to be afraid of. Part political thriller, part dystopian speculative fiction; Republic is the story of a civil war in modern day America.

I hope that, in reading this book, you’ll walk away thinking about the nature of our democracy, and the very real need for ordinary citizens to protect it. Most importantly, I hope that the world of Ken Murphy and his family will absorb you, and that you’ll walk away believing that above all, this was a damn good story. I’d like to invite you to drop by my website or email me and let me know what you thought.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Ok, not super. Sometimes difficult to read"by Ellen t. (see profile) 09/04/08

This seemed to be poorly edited--like some typesetting mistakes, etc. Story was pretty good, a little laborous in the telling of it. Great idea/plot and probably would generate some good discussion at... (read more)

  "really made me think"by E T. (see profile) 08/30/08

A military perspective on the gray areas in politics.

  "Brings up a lot of good points. A good book for clubs"by ellen t. (see profile) 08/30/08

Probably a good choice this year with the military conflict in Iraq, and an election year. Brings up a lot of good questions, and things to discuss. Sometimes hard to follow with a lot of military jargon,... (read more)

  "The book makes the reader think on many levels; discussion helps bring up ideas others may not have considered."by Kyla N. (see profile) 03/05/08

This is the type of story that creates a realistic scenario and follows a sequence of believable events. The book is scary from a psychological standpoint. It makes the reader sit back and wonder how much... (read more)

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