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Breakdown by William W. Johnstone
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Tried to read around the end of June 2017, following another book I couldn't finish. I had gone back to a Johnstone because they are stupidly action centered and a very quick read. This one was just too stupidly preachy, not that his other books don't have preaching in them, but in this story characters would have POV discussions while in unlikely situations, as if to show you that, yes, see how this is playing out, that is because of some blah blah blah.... specifically what had me stop reading was when the central characters were creeping up on the armed enemy in the dark and the main man and woman started another POV discussion? Really? How about worrying instead that too much yick yack noise might get your ass shot? ( )
  magnumpigg | Jul 8, 2017 |
Middle-of-the-road as the genre goes, but an interesting what-if regarding the militias, the religious right, minorities, and the average American. ( )
  jpsnow | May 3, 2008 |
Review by Jeremy Taylor

Breakdown by William W. Johnstone is a mysterious book. It is adequately but unbrilliantly written and contains shallow characters, implausible plot sequences, meaningless relationships, and an ambiguous social commentary. Yet for all that, it somehow manages to be suspenseful, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining. Even while I thought to myself how flawed the writing was, I for some reason remained unable to put the book down.

Breakdown is the story of what might happen in America when decent, law-abiding people decide they’ve had enough of their corrupt, immoral government running too much of their lives. It’s the story of what happens when the people react to the overreaching of the state. Simply put, it’s a story of revolution.

Jim Kincaide is a normal guy. He’s upper-middle-class, lives in New York City, has a good job at a prestigious public-relations firm. He’s a registered democrat, though he certainly wouldn’t identify himself as liberal. Still, he finds himself agreeing most of the time with liberal politicians. In other words, Jim Kincaide is a moderately liberal working man who feels the government is doing a pretty good job overall as long as it continues to help the needy, feed the hungry, tax the rich, and control the spread of guns.

Unfortunately for him, he’s in the minority. Most Americans are fed up with the overintrusiveness of the government. They are tired of handing over a third of their income so it can be redistributed to those too lazy to get a job. They are tired of unpatrolled borders and benefits and “rights” for illegal immigrants and criminals. They are tired of frivolous law suits. They are tired of having their guns taken away. They’re tired of jurists legislating from the bench. And they’ve finally decided to do something about it.

What starts with a few instances of vigilante justice quickly escalates into a fullblown national crisis. Surprisingly organized militia groups unite and overthrow town after town. Riots erupt in the cities. The government is helpless. Soon the militias control the heartland of the nation, including the bulk of the country’s agricultural industry. They start demanding change.

And they get it. Crime drops to near zero as citizens begin defending themselves. The government in Washington, D.C. capitulates and establishes a flat tax. “Convicts” unjustly imprisoned for “crimes” like shooting a burgler are set free.

Without intending to, Jim Kincaide becomes thrust into the action. Unwittingly hooking up with one of the most powerful militia groups, he becomes the spokesperson for all those with whom he most vehemently disagrees. He’s the wrong man for the job—yet he’s the only one who has a chance to defuse the growing tension before it’s too late.

Parts of the story are very believable. In a time when America is polarized between the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal, with “moderates” floating in the middle largely ignored, a second American Revolution based on a desire for general morality and individual independence is not beyond the stretch of the reasonable imagination. Perhaps this is what makes the book so compelling. One thing that makes a story is worth reading is when it forces the reader to reexamine some element of universal human experience. Breakdown succeeds on this level, even though it fails on so many others. It encourages the reader to imagine what it would take for him or her to finally say, “Enough is enough.”

Throughout biblical history we see time after time when God reached that tipping point. First he sent a flood; later he send diseases, famines, and conquest to the people of Israel. But God’s ultimate tipping point came when he said, “Enough is enough” and sent his Son to take on the sin of the world. That application is a far cry from the intent of William Johnstone in this decidedly secular novel. Still, dissatisfaction is a universal human reality. Whether we are dissatisfied with the state of our government or with the state of our own lives, it is instructive and useful to reflect on what our own tipping point might—or should—be.

(http://www.cerebralexchange.com/books/reviews.asp?book=14&host=1) ( )
  jeremytaylor | Jan 10, 2007 |
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