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Christian Nation

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  710 ratings  ·  198 reviews
“They said what they would do, and we did not listen. Then they did what they said they would do.”

So ends the first chapter of this brilliantly readable counterfactual novel, reminding us that America’s Christian fundamentalists have been consistently clear about their vision for a “Christian Nation” and dead serious about acquiring the political power to achieve it. When
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 1st 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  710 ratings  ·  198 reviews


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Richard Derus
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 4.5 appalled, terrified stars of five

UPDATE 1 OCTOBER 2013 from President Obama's Twitter feed:
Barack Obama @BarackObama 13m
They actually did it. A group of Republicans in the House just forced a government shutdown over Obamacare instead of passing a real budget.
**THEY DID WHAT THEY SAID THEY WERE GOING TO DO.**



It's Banned Books Week, so we are well advised to think about what the ability to ban a book really means.

“The biggest mistake that we can make is that we don’t believe that they
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Emily
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, fiction, review-copy
I'm not sure I can give any book I found so riveting less than four stars, even though this doesn't seem particularly artful as a novel. It is a counterfactual history of a future theocratic America, written as the memoir of one of the leaders of the resistance. It departs from real life when John McCain wins the 2008 election and dies soon thereafter, vaulting Sarah Palin to the presidency. From there, a series of increasingly openly religious laws are passed, culminating with The Blessing, a ...more
Bob
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
When I first read the synopsis for Christian Nation, I was excited. It sounded like a fantastic alternate history/future dystopian novel, built around a premise far more plausibly terrifying than aliens, zombies, or vampire plagues. What I found in its pages is really two books, both of which are deeply flawed, but which combine to provide a whole that's more fascinating than the sum of its parts.

As a novel, as a narrative work of fiction, this is a rather weak tale. It's told as a series of
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Hank
Aug 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is, to my mind, a must-read for anyone who cares about our country, our traditions, our freedom, and the ideals of tolerance and justice.

It's been clear for a long time that the Republican party is the agent of fundamentalist evangelical Christians and is, therefore, all too often an agent of intolerance and of the pernicious idea that one religious ideology should trump this country's commitment to a democracy based on reason.

Frederic Rich's book, while fictional, plausibly explores
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Elizabeth Bingham
Jul 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is ridiculous left-wing trash. It's also intellectually dishonest. The American citizen has never had fewer civil liberties or lived in anything so close to the police state than it does now, living in a dystopia where only 47% of adults have a full time job as the President tells you daily what a swell job he's doing. This is absurd.
Sally
Jun 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: gay
I was intensely curious about Christian Nation from the moment it was first brought to my attention. I do like a enjoy a good alternate "what if?" history novel, but I was far more interested in this as a book of ideas. As a reader who is apparently destined to be persecuted on multiple fronts in Rich's theocratic state, I was interested to see how he would develop his ideas and justify his conclusions.

Oh my gosh. I mean no offense to my friends south of the border, but this is a
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Becky
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Many reviewers have likened this book to "The Handmaid's Tale", and they're not wrong. Personally, I'd call it a cross between 1984 and World War Z. :)

This book kept me awake at night and not just because of the shudders every time I read the words "Palin administration." What part of this book is implausible? That a Republican president with a filibuster-proof majority would replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg with Roy Moore? That he (or she) would propose the most savage attack on personal freedom in
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Michael
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-read
An interesting novel, for sure. If I was simply rating the story, I may have opted for a 3 or 4 star review. However, the author was unable to keep his own political biases out of the book. From going out of his way to make Sarah Palin sound and seem like a total idiot to his obvious hatred of all things conservative or Republican, the author gets in the way of his own story. The book would have been better if it had used made-up characters. This would would have made it easier to focus on the ...more
Brent Soderstrum
May 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-read
I won this "book" through GoodRead's first read program.

Mr. Rich uses his novel as a platform for a mean-spirited rant on evangelical Christians. This left-wiing liberal attack is pasted to a flimsy story of McCain beating Obama for the presidency in 2008 and then suddenly dying, resulting in Sarah Palin becoming President. She then uses her presidency and another attack led by terrorists on the US to get her right wing religious program through Congress. Palin isn't the worst of it according to
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11811 (Eleven)
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I've had plenty of time to think about this book and I have plenty to say but for the sake of my tradition of keeping it pithy I narrowed it down to a couple comments and a single quote.

1. This should be read as political literature. The author uses an extreme brand of Christianity for his story but there is no shortage of non-religious ideologies that could be just as dangerous.

2. The problem with revolutions is that you don't always get what you want. The Marxist movement and surprise
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Michele
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Er...yikes?

Written by a lawyer, this novel of a dystopian near-future America takes the somewhat unusual tack of laying out how a small group, with the right people in the right places, can legally get pretty close to taking over the country -- so close that by the time they're ready to take that last extra-legal step, there's nobody to stop them. Although the ultimate events of the book take some suspension of disbelief, the steps taken to get there are all too plausible. The story covers the
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Jeremy Pack
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“It can’t happen here.”

Several times while reading Christian Nation, I scoffed and said those exact words. Except, by the end, I was questioning my own convictions. It can’t happen here. Can it?

In this tale, an alternate reality in which McCain and Palin win the 2008 election, America transforms into a totalitarian theocracy in the span of two decades. In a calculated series of moves—THAT HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ATTEMPTED, by the way—civil liberties are virtually eradicated and what emerges is an
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Jenn
Apr 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
This books' anti-Christian agenda is far too obvious and inaccurate to be in the least bit enjoyable. This author's obvious hatred towards Christianity and his intentional blaming of left-wing problems on the right is horrific. For example, he blames the lack of knowledge of world events on the right, when in fact that lack of history in our schools is being forced on teachers by requiring so many mandated minutes in reading and math that these subjects are barely broached. Under the Obama ...more
Claudia
Probably NOT the best time to listen to this chilling novel...right after an election that puts the country on a totally unknown trajectory...but listen I did.

This is alternative history -- "What if...." What if McCain won the election and promptly died, leaving Sarah Palin president...with her Dominionist Christian beliefs, and the freedom to act them out? What if, step by step, our country was taken over by Christian evangelists, determined to impose their beliefs and their morality on
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Melissa Acuna
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For those who see this novel as "liberal hyperbole" or "anti-Christian" I'd counter that it is anything but that. It is a warning of what could happen should the fundamentalist dominionists succeed in executing their agenda--and they do have an agenda. I was raised in an evangelical household and value the separation of church and state as the basis of freedom in this country. Being able to choose to worship in the manner each of us would choose, is a precious right and it should not be taken ...more
InYourFaceNewYorker
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of dystopian fiction over the past few years, some of it good, some of it lousy. I love The Hunger Games and I feel that it is one of the few popular series of teen books that is not overrated. It is, however, easy to satirize because the premise is so outlandish, even in the context of a Nazi-Germany-like society: To keep the people subjugated, kids between the ages of 12 and 17 are thrown in an arena where they fight to the death until only one person is left alive. A fake ...more
Emily
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Full disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a goodreads giveaway.

This was an interesting, not to mention quite chilling, read. The author avoids what I was most afraid of when I picked up this book: The demonization of the Christian religion. I was dubious that a book about the country coming under the control of an extreme theocratic regime could avoid that pitfall, but this one did. This book is about extremism, not about your average person who goes to church on Sundays.

The first thing
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Brendan Diamond
Aug 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Wow. I'm pretty liberal, hate Sarah Palin and everything her glam-seeking, fake religiously zealous pseudoconservatives stand for... but this book is simply dreadful. Had this been a conscious rewrite of the ludicrous Left Behind series told from the unbeliever's perspective, it might have been interesting. Instead, it focuses on a boring narrator telling a surprisingly pedestrian tale about his meteoric rise to fame on the heels of his way-too-perfect best friend. And it relies on a lot of ...more
J
Aug 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
What a load of leftwing liberal nonsense. Someone's been drinking the kool aid by the gallons. Intellectually dishonest and riddled with cognitive dissonance.
Kate Reynolds
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a chilling alternative future novel that posits a John McCain win in the 2008 election, followed by the takeover from within of the US Government by the Christian RIght. I can't say I enjoyed the idea of this future, but it was very well told and a real wake-up call. I hope this book gets widely read and makes people commit to preventing this very scary outcome.
Kelly
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book…

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. )

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I mean, it’s right up my alley: Speculative fiction. The rise of an American theocracy. The erosion of civil liberties and rights. The misuse of technology by the government to spy on its citizens and force them into submission. Misogyny taken to its logical extremes. When I first read the description
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Steve Pehnec
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wrote a short review on Amazon.com, THIS IS YOUR WARNING. I just have few comments for this space:

The book has been called "Christian Bashing", "demonization of Christianity", and so on. It is no such thing. The author is very clear on this in his book. The mainline protestant churches, as well as the Catholic churches, unless similarly radicalized, will be rolled over. Millions of Christians, believing they are doing what is both good and right will unquestioningly support the overthrow of
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Jeff Stockett
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Full Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy for free through the Goodreads First Reads Program.

This book purports to be an alternate history novel. It posits the question, what if John McCain won the 2008 election? What if he died shortly thereafter due to his old age? Those are interesting questions, and they are questions that were openly discussed by many on the left during the election season. Many were concerned with McCain's old age, and Sarah Palin's inexperience.

If those two
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Lily Lindsey-Aubrey
I would be interested in another book similar to this, but told from the opposite perspective. Where is our government currently headed? If democrats continue he to succeed in their agendas, where will we be in 50, 20, even 10 more years?

I'm a conservative Christian. You might think that biases me. But I know that under the leadership of real Christians, the country would be nothing like how it is portrayed in this book. Rich is extremely illogical in his assumptions. While there are obviously
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Aaron
Nov 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is like reading a sort of "clip-art" fiction. He used various, familiar factoids from non-fiction, from the last decade, on the topic of the Religious Right, and applied it to his hapless narrative. He also has a cast of characters that are true-to-life people and institutions. I don't think this was a really good idea. He used way too many real people in this book. The politicians, and other famous people where not really characters, just talking heads on television screens. It's ...more
Chris
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
– Blaise Pascal.

This book is a work of fiction, but a lot of the details Frederic Rich has used to build the story of a totalitarian Christian takeover of the United States are based on easily verifiable facts. The Christian-right-inspired Constitution Restoration Act and the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act have both been submitted to congress (and fortunately, so far, rejected). The
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Geof
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've never been so eager to recommend a book. Rarely do I find it so difficult to put a book down. I went into this book very cold, all I knew was that it posited a Sarah Palin presidency. That's just the beginning.

SPOILERS

I didn't know what to expect of the novel. I thought it would be a political book, like a fictional "Game Change," but it outlines an exaggerated Christian dystopia, similar to Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." It reminded me too of Phillip Roth's "The Plot Against
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Laura
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't think I'll ever hear a politician refer to America as a "Christian nation" the same way again.

Really interesting dystopian novel. The author notes in the afterword that it's not meant as a prediction of what is likely to happen, but only a suggestion of what could happen -- and he laid out a series of events and developments that made an unimaginable outcome seem not entirely implausible. Some evangelicals will probably (and somewhat understandably) feel defensive or offended by this
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Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
If your reading this on its literary merits I don't think it should get four stars. If you are reading this because you want to think about nightmare scenarios with realm of possibility involving the Christian right in this country you will find value in this book. The author is a lawyer and some of the people in the story are real people acting now for a Christian nation. Their really are Christian Reconstructionists out there who really want this country run on the principles of Leviticus. ...more
Peacegal
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
What if the most extreme wing of the Christian Right got everything they wanted? This speculative fiction book imagines a civil war between the American Midwest and the coastal cities, reeducation camps, and a Big Brother-like "Purity Web." The author cleverly uses real-life figures and organizations from the evangelical movement, and peppers the text with their actual quotes and political positions.
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Fred Rich is an author whose writing, both fiction and non-fiction, probes contemporary political and moral issues from a fresh perspective. That perspective is independent, non-partisan, and pragmatic.

His first book, Christian Nation (W.W. Norton, 2013), is a work of speculative fiction that considers the political ambitions of Christian fundamentalism in America. The novel was called
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“This was not the first time that the world didn’t listen. In college I read Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Fourteen years before the first shot was fired, Hitler announced his plan to destroy the parliamentary system in Germany, to attack France and Eastern Europe, and to eliminate the Jews. Why, I asked the professor, did neither ordinary Germans voting in the Reichstag elections in July 1932, nor foreign leaders reacting to the rise of Nazism, believe him? Why was anyone surprised when he simply did what he said he would do? She had no answer. The fall of my senior year at Princeton, nineteen deeply religious young men flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. During the decade before 9/11, Osama Bin Laden had shouted out his warnings of mass murder using all the means of modern communication. And still we were surprised when he did what he said he would do. So I suppose what happened here is that they said what they would do, and we did not listen. Then they did what they said they would do.” 5 likes
“Nothing seems more inevitable than the status quo, and yet nothing is more certain than that it will—eventually—end suddenly and that we will need to make our lives in a new, unfamiliar and unexpected landscape.” 4 likes
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