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One Nation Under George
Z.M. Wagner
Infinity Publishing, 133 pages

One Nation Under George
Z.M. Wagner
Z.M. Wagner lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is a full-time writer and believes that free speech and free expression should not be whole-heartedly sacrificed at the expense of morality, religion and the fear of terrorism. As an American, he is determined to continue to question our leaders and our government in an effort to encourage them to make America truly better while retaining our diversity and individuality. He considers himself an Independent.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil


"The new law also required a card-swiping device at the entrance of any place that had an age requirement, such as bars, movie theatres, and strip clubs; or for the purchase of anything requiring proof of age in order to purchase, like cigarettes, beer, videos and magazines. I hadn't realised those things would be included, but I guess it made sense in order to protect the vulnerable children from going into those places and buying those things. At least the new law would end up forcing me to save some money; otherwise I would end up looking like a chain-smoking, alcoholic, pervert."
I can't remember the last time I was so on the fence after reading a book. One Nation Under George includes satirical inventions that are, at turns, amusing and subtly terrifying, but these are floating around holes big enough to swallow a politician's ego. The premise is that the author is writing his personal take on the history of the last few years in America, from the jaundiced perspective of 2008. This alternate future history includes a great many uncomfortably close parallels to real world events, and what may happen in the "Land of the Free," if liberty is crushed by anti-terror legislation.

Narrated first person style, the author's character is someone who broadly agrees with how President George is running the country, in that scary way about 50 percent of Americans have for justifying what appalls the rest of the world. This includes many policies that are just a hair's breadth away from what the real George W. Bush would probably love to do, if he thought the American people could be manipulated into acceptance. The clever parts of this book are the way in which this alternate America is manipulated into a tacit Democracy, where the whole of society ends up being run along militarised lines. One example of this thinking is when a bill is passed which solves the shortage of recruits for the meat grinders of Iraq and Afghanistan by forcing convicted criminals to serve their sentences as conscripts. The evil genius of this scheme helps to, quite literally, cut down the scum of America and produces the kind of day-to-day savagery we're now seeing in real world news reports. There are also scenes where those who would oppose the various wars find themselves convicted of crimes against the state, and with deadly irony, are required to serve their sentences fighting in the military they formerly criticised. American society is put under a Big Brother style electronic surveillance, based around the kind of biometric ID cards which, in present reality, the British government are trying to foist upon an unwilling population. These cards are needed for almost every aspect of life, and lead to a situation where the state knows where an individual is, what he's buying, and even how long he's looking. In one scene, the narrator falls asleep while watching some light porn, and is telephoned by a concerned authority figure, who wonders if his card has perhaps been stolen, thus accounting for the movie playing several times in succession. Although presented in a satirical fashion, and at times genuinely amusing, there's also a creepiness about One Nation Under George. Mainly because of the way that patriotism and insularity are used to forge a society that is every bit as fascistic as Nazi Germany, but which somehow manages to convince itself that it is still free.

The problems I had are minor and major. The minor problem is that the author cannot resist inserting little asides pertaining to his religion, which places its followers a shade or two above everyone else. I found it impossible to tell whether this was the voice of the character or the author himself. If there was any point to it, relevant to the story, I would not have minded. But as far as I could tell there was no point other than to reinforce the idea that his mob are the best. If that is satire, then it escaped my understanding. The major problem is the horribly blinkered global view of the narrator, and the almost complete lack of acknowledgement that other powers exist in the world outside of American borders. For example, the military progress of the US war machine across Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran is never troubled by the intrusion of anything bordering on reality, there are no serious consequences for military rampage, and the world is exactly the way it was envisaged by the authors of Project For A New American Century. If Z.M. Wagner had acknowledged the likely outcomes of a US attack on Iran, and worked that into his story, it would have been stronger and therefore more effective. Only when he is on home ground does the author excel, giving us a revolting yet ingenious -- and worryingly credible -- solution to the problem of a popular George W. Bush being unable to run for a third term. Don't laugh too hard, it could happen.

In summary, One Nation Under George will appeal mostly to Americans, who at the back of their mind feel certain that their nation is waking up to the wrongs on the Bush regime, and will right itself soon enough. For the rest of us, the lack of convincing reference points outside of the United States, and the failure to incorporate world reactions, makes it more of a satirical bark than the nasty bite it could have been.

Copyright © 2006 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at

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