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Liberty's Last Stand


Liberty's Last Stand

Stephen Coonts has written some of the most frightening books I have ever read. That’s a tall order for a bestselling author of political and military thrillers, but so it goes. The frightening aspect is that throughout his career, Coonts has shown an uncanny ability to publish novels using the geopolitical situation as his canvas, only to have events taking place some six months to a year later mirror those in his most recent book. This is particularly true of the novels that comprise his Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini series. It’s not that Coonts has a crystal ball; rather, he keeps himself informed and extrapolates data through a clear vision of how the world works, channeling the result into a marginally fictitious world that is all but identical to our own. The phrase “what goes around comes around” can be applied directly to the Grafton series in general and particularly to Coonts’ latest and best novel to date.

"Coonts takes an explosive situation and examines it from all angles, down to its last frightening, bloody and tragic nuance."

LIBERTY’S LAST STAND opens with a series of terrorist acts targeting heavily populated places. Keep in mind that Coonts wrote his manuscript several months before the terror attack on the dance club in Orlando; I was reading the book even as the brutal murders were taking place. All of the attacks here are stopped by good guys with guns, though not without cost. The incumbent President’s ineffectiveness throughout his eight-year tenure is having consequences for his party in an election year, and the election of the opposition party candidate to the highest office in the land is all but a foregone conclusion as Election Day approaches. The attacks give the President the opportunity he has been waiting for. He suspends habeas corpus in the United States, shuts down unfriendly media outlets, and takes government officials into custody, including Admiral Grafton, the chairman of the CIA.

Carmellini, Grafton’s right-hand man, receives a heads-up from Grafton and gets out of town just a step or two ahead of an arrest warrant. Keep in mind that Carmellini was originally conceived by Coonts as a mechanism by which Grafton, as he aged, could do the heavy lifting. Carmellini is not about to sit passively as his country is hijacked out from under him by a rogue President, and neither is Grafton, despite his de facto and incommunicado incarceration.

Meanwhile, the President’s actions have unintended consequences, as one might expect. The government of Texas convenes and begins serious discussion of secession from the United States. A country emboldened by the chaos created by the overreaching and hapless chief executive invades the US. All that the US has going for it is Carmellini and Grafton. Oh, and a well-armed and maintained militia; I almost forgot about them. Coonts takes an explosive situation and examines it from all angles, down to its last frightening, bloody and tragic nuance. And the ending? It will make you stand up and cheer, though that does not make what occurs any less terrifying.

LIBERTY’S LAST STAND will not excite everyone in the same way. There will be readers who can’t believe that the events depicted in the book will ever happen here. But those who have found themselves disappointed time and again when the thriller they are reading suddenly makes a left turn and improbably casts Republicans and/or conservatives as the villains of the piece for no special reason will find the novel a refreshing, well-maintained and highly believable change of pace, and a good start toward balancing the books.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 17, 2016

Liberty's Last Stand
by Stephen Coonts

  • Publication Date: June 13, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1621575071
  • ISBN-13: 9781621575078