Imagine that, due to a great catastrophe, all the digital information in the world was lost, and most of the hard copies, too. Imagine that electricity no longer flowed. Imagine that many people were killed. Cities and continents divided. Imagine, then, that the survivors regrouped as best as they could, played a huge game of telephone with the information they recalled, and then somewhere down the line, someone found snippets of information about history and tried to compile it into a book as best as they could. This is what you have in Liberty Bell and the Last American.
Liberty Bell is a plucky young lady setting out from home for the first time. Her trip goes awry when she’s forced to jump from the train she’s on to avoid men up to no good. She finds herself in the middle of nowhere with Secret Service agent Antonio Ice (who occasionally refers to himself as A.I.), and they fall in together to use the half of a map that they possess to find the gold in “Fort Knocks.”
Liberty is quite the student of The Americana, the trove of “knowledge” compiled about all the heroic Old Americans of the past, filled with what is thought to be their wisdom. When she and Antonio encounter various historical figures along their way, and finally discover a secret thought to be lost forever, it is Liberty’s extensive knowledge of The Americana that may be able to unravel the riddles they’re confronted with. Will Liberty be able to choose wisely? Or will a tyrannical madman take over all that remains sacred and plunge the world deeper into darkness?
This is a rip-snortin’ good book! It’s mixed-up history and reimagined future, with action, adventure, and a little romance all rolled up into one. James Stoddard must be a remarkable student of history to mix it up like he does. Liberty refers to The Americana often, and it is truly a mishmash of great Americans from throughout history, described as if they lived at the same time.
It’s also a topsy-turvy treasure trove of pop culture references. We learn from The Americana that Yoosemitee is the Old Forest, “home of Bigfoot and King Kong.” We read about “the White Sands of the Nuklars” and “the ruins of the Golden Arches.” It’s genius.
Yet underneath the humor, there is thought-provoking truth. Liberty Bell and Antonio don’t find the gold of Fort Knocks. Instead, they find a far greater treasure. What they find wrecks everything Liberty thought about the Old Americans and the history of the “Yooessay,” as it’s now known. She is crushed. But she is reminded by a figure from that past that the Old Americans were just flawed, imperfect people, but they fought for what was right, for an ideal that cannot die. She is reminded of what the true spirit of the Republic is.
Can tyranny be defeated again? Will the Old American ideals prevail and help to recreate a new, more perfect union? Grab a copy of Liberty Bell and the Last American and find out.
I give it five of the stars made famous by “Betsee Ross, the Star Weaver.”
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