John T. Cullen’s suspense novel is the most important political thriller since *Seven Days in May. Originally written in 1992, it is more relevant in today’s bitterly divided atmosphere than ever before—hence this new edition (Autumn of the Republic: The Generals of October, 20th Anniversary Edition) celebrating its success as both an entertaining fiction and as a serious legal thought experiment.
It is a true political thriller, based on a real situation (Article V) right out of the U.S. Constitution. The premise: What if we became so desperate, angry (and manipulated) that we called for a Second Constitutional Convention (CON2).
The novel plays out on the two classic dimensions that a serious drama must serve—to entertain us, and to enlighten us.
As an entertainment, it starts out as a murder mystery being investigated by two young Army officers, Captain David Gordon and Lieutenant Victoria ‘Tory’ Breen. Their separate inquiries intersect as they investigate the disappearance of a Coast Guard NCO and computer forensics expert who knew too much. The vanished man was an elite Head Walker, an investigator who penetrates the underworld of virtual reality (a very new concept when this was written, as was the massively parallel processing CloudMaster computer itself). Tracking an unusually gifted Danish hacker through a maze of top secret banks and data storage, the Head Walker came upon a lost file that implicated the Vice President of the United States in a conspiracy to overturn the government. The lives and loves of David and Tory intersect in a wartime romance as the nation slips into the beginnings of a new civil war as a result of the (purposely designed) breakdown of CON2.
The author designed the novel so that the vast panorama of CON2 plays out in enormous background sets, while the close-up lives and investigations of David and Tory take center front stage. This still-effective story architecture makes it possible to follow two converging story lines—the lives of two human beings close up, and a larger than life national and historical catastrophe unfolding. The mystery of the missing Head Walker folds into the larger story as the convention falls apart as planned by its shadowy backers, a group of powerful billionaires, military leaders, craven politicians, sectarian rabble rousers, and cynical hate show hosts.
As an edifying, serious (actually tragic) drama, the novel is a classic thought experiment. The premise is taken out of Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which permits us (with great difficulty, on purpose) to amend our national founding document—or totally scrap it and start over.
The author thought the consequences through as never before—and concluded that CON2 is a national nightmare, worse than the Civil War of 1861-5, and must never happen. He believes that this novel will not only entertain readers, but make voters think—so that we will never be fooled into rushing into a horror story like CON2, no matter how persuasive the arguments of manipulators—for they will surely have a dark agenda in store.
The Generals of October has drawn acclaim from many reviewers, both as a suspenseful thriller with solid characters and a rocking, realistic plot—and as a thought experiment every thinking person should read. It has been accorded the rare honor, for a work of fiction, of being accepted by several leading university law schools as a case study for their law library collections.
John T. Cullen is an Active Member of ITW, and the publisher of Clocktower Books (pioneer digital publisher online since 1996). John served in the U.S. Army as a young man during the Cold War, and earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston University. He is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, including the panoramic World War II/Cold War suspense/romantic novel The Spy’s Daughter. He recently translated Goethe’s Faustus (Part I) from German into English (due out from Clocktower Books in 2014). Look for his upcoming virtual tour A Walk in Ancient Rome (nonfiction/Ancient History, Clocktower Books, first authorized edition 2013) which has already garnered acclaim in galleys from academic experts and subject matter bestselling authors alike. John lives with his family in San Diego, where he researches and writes fulltime. His personal website is www.johntcullen.com.