Liberty’s Last Stand, by Stephen Coonts, Regnery, 2016.
Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. . . . The right of the citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny, which now appears remote in America, that historically has proven to be always possible.’
Humphrey, one of the most prominent Democrats of the last century, recognized the importance of upholding the Constitution, particularly the Second Amendment, because Freedom cannot be taken for granted. That’s a lesson contemporary Democrats choose to ignore, as they recently did in a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, behaving like an undisciplined mob in the hope of destroying the rights to keep and bear arms and due process. The Age of Obama has inspired, and been filled with, such sordid scenes.
From time to time a book is published that becomes an instant classic. It immediately and perfectly captures the imaginations and mood of the times because it says what Americans are thinking, what they fear, and what many dare not speak. Such a book was One Second After by William Forstchen, a riveting tale of America in the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse attack. The book is so effective because it realistically describes events that people that have been paying attention know could occur at any moment. Yet, the federal government has done little or nothing to prepare for such an attack, and President Obama has given the Iranians, who swear daily to destroy America, the financial and political means to do just that.
There is now another indispensable book: Liberty’s Last Stand by Stephen Coonts. It is the story, told from the first person perspective of Coonts’ long-time hero, CIA troubleshooter Tommy Carmellini, and also through frequents shifts to a third person narrator. Other familiar characters are Jake Grafton, the former Navy aviator of Coonts’ first novel: Flight of the Intruder, Sarah Huston, Carmellini’s love interest and CIA computer expert, and Willy The Wire, Carmellini’s ex-con partner in a lock shop/security business. Grafton is now the Director of the CIA, and as always, a pivotal character.
The plot of Liberty’s Last Stand is all too believable. The President of the United States, frustrated because he has not been able to turn the country into a Progressive utopia in his own image as quickly or completely as he desires, encourages the immigration of jihadists in the hope of terror attacks that will provide a pretext for the declaration of martial law. He gets his wish and his excuse. The logical next steps include the imprisonment of all political enemies, the suspension of the Constitution, attempts to disarm the public, and the cancellation of the upcoming presidential election so the President–Barry Soetoro–can remain in office for life.
Jake Grafton, a true-blue patriot, is one of the first political enemies jailed in one of many concentration camps FEMA and Homeland Security have been organizing for years. And of course, it falls to Tommy Carmellini to rescue him in the nick of time. But as always, Grafton is miles ahead of his enemies.
As with all of Coonts’ novels, Liberty’s Last Stand is fast paced and engaging. Long for its genre at 511 pages in hardcover, it seems a much shorter work, and leaves room for sequels, which readers will eagerly anticipate.
It will take little imagination to figure out which state first secedes from the Union: Texas. Former governor Jack Hayes, now President of the Republic of Texas, addresses the legislature:
My fellow Texans,’ he began. Then he changed that, ‘My fellow Texans and American patriots everywhere. I speak to your tonight after a tumultuous few days, a historic period that marks the beginning of the fight for freedom, a fight that we hope patriots everywhere in America will join and stand shoulder to shoulder with us against tyranny.
But that couldn’t happen! No President of the United States would ever do anything like that! The military wouldn’t stand for it. Federal employees like the Secret Service, the FBI, and others wouldn’t allow the abolishment of the Constitution, the unlawful jailing of innocents and the murder of political opponents!
Yes they would, and Coonts, without raving political harangues and implausible plot twists, demonstrates just how human nature and politics would not only allow such things, but make them inevitable. Hubert Humphrey’s observation that the Second Amendment exists primarily to allow Americans to throw off a tyrannical government is only a reflection of the wisdom of America’s Founders who lived that struggle.
It’s true that most American soldiers would not kill fellow Americans at the behest of a tyrant, but that process would take time–as it does in the book–to work itself out. Texas is a logical foil to President Soetoro not only because of Texan’s patriotism and spirit of unity and defiance, but because Texas has a great many military installations that would provide not only the land forces, but the air power necessary to fight.
There would surely be a substantial number of federal employees that would, for political reasons, support a tyrant. Others would want to be on what they perceive to be the winning side. Some would welcome the opportunity to allow their authoritarian impulses to run wild. Human nature.
Such a struggle would inevitably cost many lives, but Coonts demonstrates that it would be possible to minimize the loss of life if the right people lead the rebellion. In Jake Grafton, and the Texans, Coonts finds the right people.
Grafton is a straight arrow, a true American patriot, a man with the kind of steely resolve and ability Americans haven’t seen in a leader for a long, long time. Some politicians are lauded for their supposed brilliance. Grafton quietly demonstrates it, in part because of his ability to choose the right people to support him, and because of his unfailing loyalty toward them.
Tommy Carmellini is a former thief in whom Grafton recognized great potential. Properly trained and guided by Grafton, he is one of America’s most effective weapons.
Sarah Houston, a technical genius, was a member of a terror plot broken up by Carmellini and Grafton. Rather than leaving her rotting in prison, Grafton recognized her innate character and enlisted her in America’s service.
Carmellini and Houston do whatever is necessary to accomplish their missions, unhampered by political correctness and moral navel gazing. The good guys and bad guys are clearly delineated in this book, but Coonts does not neglect the common man stuck in a hell created by Barry Soetoro. Coonts makes frequent references to contemporary political controversies, and takes the occasional aside from the main plot to tell fascinating, and tragic, little personal stories.
After the bad guys have been mostly vanquished and America has started rebuilding, Tommy and Sarah take a much-needed vacation:
In Illinois a state trooper took offense because I was driving at eighty miles an hour when the speed limit was sixty-five. He pulled us over.
‘I told you to slow down,’ Sarah said primly as the trooper walked up.
‘You with the government?’ he asked, looking us over. The pickup had federal government plates, although it lacked logos on the doors. Sarah and I were still wearing our web belts and pistols. The trooper was a big black man with hair going gray at the tips. For a man who spent most of his working life sitting behind a wheel, he was reasonably trim and fit.
‘Ah no,’ I admitted. ‘We quit. We were with the CIA.’
‘I stole the truck,’ I said brightly, ‘from FEMA.’
‘Those assholes? No shit! You got ID?’
I dug out my wallet and passed him my CIA Langley pass.
He looked it over and passed it back. “What you got in the cooler in the bed?’
‘A six-pack. Filling station back in Indiana had some. Want one?’
‘Man, I haven’t had a beer since Soetoro declared martial law. Yeah, I’d like one.’
We got out and opened the cooler, and all three of us took a beer.
‘If you have a camera in your cruiser, they might get unhappy seeing you with a beer,’ I said.
‘Camera’s broken. Piss on ‘em.’ He popped the top on his can and took a swig. ’Ahh! Tell me about the bullet holes in your ride.’
So we sat on the tailgate of the truck and sipped beer while I told him about the attack on Camp David. As I talked and he asked questions of Sarah and me, he visibly relaxed. He believed us. If he only knew how good a liar I was, he would have been more suspicious, but ignorance is bliss, so they say. And for a change I stuck strictly to the truth.
When he finished asking questions about the death of Barry Soetoro, the trooper, whose name was Davis, waxed philosophical. “Soetoro made life a living hell for us cops, made us targets, turned people against us, and stirred up racial hatred we sure as hell didn’t need. Sure, there are a few bad cops, the same as there are bad dentists, doctors, CEOs, and plumbers, but all these body cameras and shit, and the constant second-guessing of cops who put their lives on the line–that’s bullshit. That bastard Soetoro killed a lot of people by making criminals feel free, taking their side, and giving carte blanche to illegal aliens with criminal records. He destroyed a lot of trust, especially with law enforcement. And you know, without the rule of law, we don’t have a civilization. It’s that simple.’
I’d seen enough to know that.
Now wait a minute! That’s jingoist, racist neo-conservative rhetoric. No one really talks like that!
Spoken like a true progressive who has no contact with real people in flyover country. People, including police officers, talk like that all the time. They’re far more intelligent and perceptive than Progressives imagine.
That’s why Liberty’s Last Stand is destined to become a new classic. It’s fast-paced, very well written, is filled with interesting, believable characters about whom readers care, and it reveals the worst, and the best, in humanity, which is what all good literature ultimately does.
Flyover Country denizens will see in it a warning, and a primer. But even Progressives, if they possess an ounce of honesty, will find an entertaining novel, and perhaps, an opportunity to avoid taking a path no sane person wants to take. Tyranny is always, always, possible.