Kamas main character is Paul Wagner, a businessman with a classic good family life in suburban Pittsburgh, who falls victim along with his family to a new America political system.The year is 2016 when, after a series of natural disaster events, a President of the United States begins his regime, a totalitarian nightmare where the old system of freedoms and rights give way to the demands of the State Wagner runs his family manfacturing business, but The Events and the regime lead to a progression of taxes and inflation which make it impossible for the family to survive in America Emigration is the route they choose, but imprisonment on a bogus charge takes Paul to a corrective labor camp in the Wasatch Mountain range of Utah And his beloved wife and daughters are separated on totally independent ventures The author incorporates historical references directly and indirectly which give the reader the sense of being in Stalinist Russia in the Gulags, or in Nazi Germany in the work camps.Life in the corrective camp Kamas revolves around Wagner but provides portraits of a diverse population who have been sentenced for various moves, real and imagined, against the State The command and control system of the new regime are painted clearly, with historic parallels frighteningly clear The perverse camp warden and staff, always looking to exploit the prisoners labor and break their morale, become key characters in the lives of all Wagner s will to survive and gut instinct to do what is right move him along a winding road. Read on my Kindle e reader When I was in college, I read Solzhenitsyn s ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVITCH and excerpts from GULAG ARCHIPELAGO and came away thinking of the Gulag as a uniquely Soviet phenomenon, just as the Nazi death camps could only have happened under Hitler Then I read about the labor camps in China under Mao, in Cambodia under Pol Pot and in North Korea under the Kims, as well as others in South Africa, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere Later, when I traveled in the Third World, I recognized that the kind of tyrant who creates forced labor camps can pop up nearly anywhere Years later, I read Sinclair Lewis s novel, IT CAN T HAPPEN HERE, about a fictional American dictatorship in the 1930s That, in turn, brought me to THE PLOT TO SEIZE THE WHITE HOUSE non fiction about the 1933 Business Plot to overthrow FDR More recently, I have been asking myself this if the Great Depression brought America to the brink of dictatorship, might today s Great Recession do something similar This summer I came across FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS, a novel that asks what if American tyranny replaced American democracy What struck me first about KAMAS was that it is based on a true story from GULAG ARCHIPELAGO that I remember having read in college But, in KAMAS, the setting, characters and political backdrop are authentically American and chillingly realistic Though the author does not describe in detail the events that bring the President for Life and his Unionist Party to power, his America of 2024 is a totalitarian one party state where political dissidents are sent to forced labor camps to work and die as slaves of the state Most of the action takes place in and around a corrective labor camp in Kamas, Utah The novel s protagonist, Paul Wagner, lands at Kamas on the eve of an unprecedented prisoner revolt that leads to a forty day siege by government forces What Wagner does not know is that his eleven year old daughter has become separated from her mother and sister and has arrived in Utah on the same train as her prisoner father There she is put to work as a domestic servant to the wife of the camp s Deputy Commandant, where she observes at close hand just what kind of people her overlords have come to be Eventually, Wagner nears of his daughter s presence and must choose between his family and his commitment to the revolt Though dark and at times difficult to read due to the relentless suspense, I found KAMAS to be a hopeful and uplifting story that affirms positive American values and shows how even the most oppressive tyranny cannot easily extinguish the American love of freedom Paul Wagner is vividly and believably drawn as a devoted father and responsible business owner, though not without flaws The minor characters are sufficiently three dimensional to drive the plot, though in some cases are not as fully developed as I would have liked But, to me, one of the most valuable and insightful aspects of KAMAS was how it showed, largely through discussions overheard by Wagner s daughter, what motivates the camp officials and their visiting bosses in their effort to exert total control over the camp and society at large KAMAS is difficult to pigeonhole because it is quite unlike other dystopian novels I have read First, it comes across as a serious piece of fiction than a genre thriller Second, it holds up a mirror to our current political landscape in a way that helped me to see how the U.S might today be headed down the road toward dictatorship And, finally, it is written in a low key, realistic style, with close attention to facts and details that made it easy for me to suspend disbelief and enter into the story This is not a sensational page turner to be read merely for titillation, though it works quite well as a thriller and kept me awake past midnight reading straight through to the end I recommend KAMAS highly for thriller readers with a taste for political intrigue and conspiracy But I also recommend it for readers of non fiction who might benefit from a richly imagined vision what a future dystopian America might look like In the coming weeks I plan to read KAMAS s sequel, STAR CHAMBER BROTHEROOD, to see what Preston Fleming s America might look like in 2029 If the sequel is crafted as masterfully as KAMAS, I expect Preston Fleming s books will draw a good deal attention from readers like me I give FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS my highest rating. A Brutal Portrait Of A Dystopian America, Full Of Dramatic Irony And Shocking Revelation KIRKUS REVIEWS Inspired By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn S Account Of A Soviet Labor Camp Revolt In Gulag Archipelago, Volume III, The Story Of FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS Follows Political Prisoners And Security Officials At A Corrective Labor Camp In Kamas, Utah, Where Inmates Seize Control During The Summer Of Kamas, Utah In The Totalitarian Dystopia That America Has Become After The Unionist Party S Rise To Power, The American West Contains Vast Restricted Zones Dotted With Ghost Towns, Scattered Military Garrisons And Corrective Labor Camps Where The Regime Disposes Of Its Real And Suspected Enemies Kamas Is One Such Camp On A Frigid March Night, A Former Businessman From Pittsburgh, Paul Wagner, Arrives At A Labor Camp In Utah S Kamas Valley, A Dozen Miles East Of The Deserted Resort Town Of Park City, Which Prisoners Are Dismantling As Part Of A Massive Recycling Project When Wagner Arrives, He Is Unaware That His Eleven Year Old Daughter, Claire, Has Set Off To Utah To Find Him After Becoming Separated From Her Mother At The Philadelphia Airport By An Odd Quirk Of Fate, Claire Has Traveled On The Same Train That Carried Her Father Into Internal Exile Only After Wagner Has Renounced All Hope Of Survival, Cast His Lot With Anti Regime Hard Liners And Joined Them In An Unprecedented And Suicidal Revolt Does He Discover That Claire Has Become A Servant In The Home Of The Camp S Deputy Warden Wagner Is Torn Between His Devotion To Family And Loyalty To His Fellow Rebels Until, On The Eve Of An Ard Assault Intended To Crush The Revolt, He Faces An Agonizing Choice Between A Hero S Death And A Coward S Freedom In FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS, Author Preston Fleming Offers A Stirring Portrait Of A Man Determined To Survive Under The Bleakest Of Conditions And Against Formidable Odds Fleming S Gift For Evocative Prose Brings The Characters And Events To Life In A Way That Arouses Emotional Tension While Also Engaging The Reader S Intellect With Fundamental Questions About The Future Of American Society Having read Sinclair Lewis s IT CAN T HAPPEN HERE as a young man, I found FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS gripping from beginning to end Lewis wrote during the 1930s, when America suffered from the Depression and Europe turned to Fascism and Communism Today, America s economic and social problems bring back the specter of a government takeover by a would be President for Life If you have ever been afraid of how America could be taken over by anti American statists, read this book The characterizations of the villains are chilling I couldn t stop reading it. A great read and a page turner I spent two nights reading until 3 AM unable to put it down The action is brisk and unpredictable The characters are engaging and the scenario is frighteningly conceivable I am looking forward to reading the remainder of the trilogy. I really enjoyed this story based in the future Some will find problems with how the story breaks down and call it a bunch of mularky, but I can see our country heading down this path It follows a man from Pittsburgh already has to be good , who loses his business through the nationalization act Gets arrested as he is trying to leave the country with his family and ends up in a prision camp in Utah The whole book takes place in only a 6 month time frame except for the back story on his factory.His oldest daughter manages to accidently get seperated from her mother and sister who are also detained She makes her way west to Utah and with help from strangers manages to find a job as an au pair for the deputy commanders wife of the camp.Over 850 pages on my Nook, but I could hardly put it down I received a free copy of this eBook for review, from the author Beginning with the good The writing is well paced, many of the characters are well developed and generally well realized, a lot of attention had been paid to getting details right, and other than its length I hold any book over 80k words to a higher standard I never felt strongly compelled to quit reading it If you like the idea of reading 130k words that effectively start and end inside a forced labor camp circa Stalin s USSR, detailing at length what it s like to suffer in a forced labor prison camp first 50% and then what it s like when the prisoners revolt and take over the prison next 40% , and suicide against the government s army next 5% , then I can recommend this book Especially if you like commercial fiction, generally.I have a few caveats First, as I told the author when he asked whether I d like to read his dystopian novels, I now automatically deduct one star from my review if you needlessly compare the evil authoritarian government in your novel to the Nazis, or otherwise refer to Hitler or the Nazis when not writing book which takes place during the existence of Nazi Germany a good author can easily convey how evil their evil overlords are without having to say they re as bad as the Nazis Within the first 5% of the text, the author apparently unknowingly used this crutch.Second, while the author wrote nearly the entire book in a straight realist style, in a few places he inserted, without explanation, moments of psychic and supernatural experiences The protagonist, stuck telling the story from a 1st person POV, has a couple of out of body experiences so the author can switch to 3rd person POV when 1st person would have been unable to capture the full story in that show, don t tell way commercial fiction writers prefer The occasional chapter about his daughter is also told 3rd person, though on that later Several characters accurately dreamed the future This managed to drain all the tension and anticipation out of the book, after the formulaic predictability of the writing style had already done most of the work I ll admit the latter affects writers than readers, but the detailed visions of the future gave away everything the chapters with the daughter didn t Then, while in the isolator , amidst his random visions, the protagonist sees that his wife and daughter are alright, and actually has an accurate, current time vision of his older daughter, who is living nearby It s hinted that he nearly psychically contacts her at that time What Why are people psychic To give the protagonist a reason to live, here, or a goal to strive for which wouldn t make sense otherwise there deus ex machina, I suppose.Which brings me to the daughter Re reading the blurb, I see that her living nearby without the protagonist s knowledge is already given away, so I don t feel I m spoiling anything to say that when I read that she had coincidentally ridden in on the same train he had, and coincidentally met the only woman in town sympathetic to her cause and coincidentally crossed paths with her own father during his transfer into the prison camp, then coincidentally gets a job working for the family of the Deputy Warden of the prison I had trouble suspending my disbelief This might be a spoiler, but later on in the book, when the woman the daughter had met also coincidentally happens to regularly pass messages in and out of the prison and the protagonist coincidentally happens to take over corresponding with her, in order to maintain the capital D Drama, he goes out of his way say I WILL NOT MENTION MY NAME Yes, in all caps Anyway, the occasional chapters with the daughter and they are few, and far between seem largely to exist so the reader can get inside information on what the prisoners do not know her coincidentally living with the Deputy Warden means she can stand around, silently listening to the prison leaders discussing their plans in detail Nothing she can do about it, of course, and she doesn t the scenes are only there so the reader has a 3rd person POV Half the times these scenes took the place of the prisoners psychic visions, giving away what was about to happen and sucking all the tension out of the next sequence I believe the book would have been better served and be consistent, and possibly even able to drop the out of place psychic phenomena had the entire thing been written in 3rd person POV Because of the inconsistent POV and the unexplained psychic visions in the context of such harsh realism , I have had to remove another star from my rating.There were a noticeable number of small errors in the text line editing errors , about on par with, say, the first edition of Under the Dome about one every 30 or 40 pages A little than I d like, but I might be paying attention to them because I ve been line editing my own books, lately As a dystopian novel, I d have preferred background what led to this situation, how did we get here, but that might be because I ve read so much dystopian fiction and WWII era history that I well understand what horrible things go on once you get there Or it might be because the book suggests nothing towards how to get out of that position, either The inevitable happy ending if only for the protagonist s family after the crushing torture of the rest of the book and the massacre of the inmates was a harsh contrast.Also, there is a distinct lack of advanced technology in the book, despite its being set in 2024 As though, in the never explained Events and Civil War II , all or nearly all the computers and technology in the world had been sought out and destroyed, and the military s technology reversed 80 years, without mention Until the final chapter of the book, I was sure not a single character in the book had ever seen or used or heard of a computer This book might work better as an alternate history, where the US was taken over by Communists in the 40 s or 50 s only a few sentences refer in any way to technology advanced than that of the 50 s it would be a simple edit that might do a lot of good.Otherwise, I would say it was a solid, 4 star book As I said at the beginning, it was well paced, a fast read relative to its length , and seemed to accomplish what it set out to do, from a story perspective If it had been under 80k words a book I could read in a single sitting , I might have said it was a 5 star book before the 2 star deduction This is among the best books that I have read in 2017 The plot s pace is consistent, not overwhelming the author s prose is highly readable and descriptive Forty Days at Kamas is a book that makes the reader think deeply about their own experiences with bureaucracy, persecution, and the philosophical will to focus on what in their life is truly prescious their freedom. This author and his book are what is wonderful about indie authors I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book I was also enlightened in my realization that the Orwellian theme of the book could happen in our country.There are a number of good reviews that will lay out the characters and storyline so there is no reason for me to rehash those great reviews However, I do want to chime in with a few comments about the work of Preston Fleming This is the first of his books to pass by my eyes I was engrossed with how well it was written I thought the story was exciting and had a relatively quick pace which kept me fully interested The characters are a real strength to this book I feel that I would actually recognize the majority of them if I passed them on the street That is how well they were developed.I now have another great author to read It is a shame that there are so few books to read On the bright side, he is young so he has a lot writing time left in his life Pick up a copy of this fine book to entice him to keep writing. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.An incredibly emotional read about near future America in which Unionists have taken over and destroyed the freedom that had been the American way of life for over 200 years People, many of which are war heroes or former government employees, are now taken prisoner for the slightest perceived infractions, charged with sedition and other drummed up charges, and send to a prison camp system based in the Western United States, primarily Utah and Colorado.A very heart wrenching story based on the true story of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and his time in a Russian gulag, told from the perspective of an innocent prisoner, and his living through a prison camp uprising, and survival in the most extreme conditions brought on by prison wardens, government officials, and even fellow prisoners.An excellent book, well written, and very compelling I m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Preston Fleming writes realist thrillers set in exceptional times and places, from Siberia during the Russian Civil War MAID OF BAIKAL , to explosive 1980s Beirut DYNAMITE FISHERMEN , to a near future gulag style labor camp in Utah FORTY DAYS AT KAMAS His experience as a diplomat, lawyer and corporate executive, combined with his ultra lean writing style, lend rare authenticity to his stories
- Kindle Edition
- 359 pages
- Forty Days at Kamas (Kamas Trilogy, #1)
- Preston Fleming
- 23 May 2017 Preston Fleming