Book Review: The Republic of Jack by Jeffrey Kerr

  • Title: The Republic of Jack
  • Author: Jeffrey Kerr
  • Genre: Satire, Political Humor
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Would I recommend: Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, if you think you’d like a hilarious yet not-out-of-the-realm-of-possibility satirical read, give The Republic of Jack a try.

From Goodreads:

Jack Cowherd will do anything to win the Texas governorship, even flirt with 21st century secessionists in the Texas Patriot Party. Victory is achieved, but only at the cost of Texas being tossed out of the United States. The Republic of Texas lives again! And Jack is its president.

Jack’s friend and political advisor Tasha Longoria has long warned him of the dangers of his demagoguery. Now the worst has come to pass: Jack is impeached, arrested, and charged with treason, the penalty for which is death.

Jack has but one chance to save his beloved Texas, not to mention his life. But success depends upon help from the one person least likely to give it . . . Tasha.

My review:

I don’t usually read a lot of satire, but when I got the opportunity to read The Republic of Jack, I was intrigued. I went to college and law school in Texas, and I lived there for a good handful of years before moving back to my home state of Louisiana. In my early career as a prosecutor, I actually took a member of the Republic of Texas to trial for a charge of driving with a suspended license, of all things. (That was an interesting experience!) So the idea of the Republic of Texas crowd actually getting their way and seeing Texas secede from the Union caught my attention.

Jack Cowherd (pronounced Cow-herd, not Coward, thank you very much) is the Texas Attorney General, and he’s running for governor. His longtime advisor, Fred, recommends that he really play up to the secessionist crowd, but Jack’s long-suffering chief of staff, Tasha, advises against it. Strongly. Jack says, it’s just political talk, it doesn’t mean anything, and says some things he really shouldn’t have. Long story short, Jack wins the election, the President of the United States cordially disinvites Texas from participation in the Union, and Jack suddenly finds himself President…of Texas?!

Kerr’s characters are so much fun! Nadine is Jack’s wife – I hesitate to call her a trophy wife, because I think Jack really loves her. But she is a gold-digging opportunistic little thing, always looking out for number one without letting something as trifling as marriage vows get in the way of what she wants. She is so shallow and so silly, I can’t help but laugh. I don’t think she really considers the consequences of her actions, and she may come to regret her choices at some point. Her friend Brianna is dumb as a box of hammers, and their conversations had me alternating between laughing out loud and slapping my head at the sheer stupidity. Tasha is a rock. She tries her best to get Jack to see sense, but she’s fighting a losing battle sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. How she doesn’t just pack it in and leave Jack to lie in the bed he made is beyond me. Fred is really a caricature of good ol’ boy politics, and he’s definitely got Jack’s ear – at least at first, when all Jack has on his mind is winning. Charlie Clutterbuck is Jack’s insufferable lieutenant governor turned vice president. He is an over-the-top example of someone saying what the people want to hear and taking full advantage of his charm and political clout.

And the book really isn’t that far outside of the things that could actually happen. There are undoubtedly folks in Texas who’d be quite happy if Texas seceded from the United States. This book serves as a cautionary tale, though, and points out that it might not be quite as easy as saying, “Okay, we’re our own country now!”

For instance, I loved the discussion of how the University of Texas team would now make it to out of state games. Do they need passports? Will Oklahoma check passports at the border and not let them in to play? Will the Red River Showdown become a thing of the past? Whoops, nobody thought of that!

What about law enforcement? Does the Border Patrol still function, or will Jack have to figure out what Texas should do about the border? And when state officials and state agencies are no longer a thing, who do you call when things go pear-shaped? Will the ragtag secessionist militia be able to maintain law and order? (Spoiler: Nope.)

With The Republic of Jack, Jeffrey Kerr gives us a satirical treat that pokes fun at modern politics and also reminds us to be careful what we wish for, because we might get it. If you like a good political satire, pick this one up.

My thanks to the author for an advance review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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