303 pages
ISBN 978-1-55263-818-9
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


On “a cold bright day in April” 2050, 100-year-old David Derklin Leverett, living, if that’s the right word anymore, in the long-at-war U.S.N.A., begins his memoir. He writes about serving in the U.S. government bureaucracy from the 1960s to early 2005, asking only that his putative readers in some distant future learn from his mistakes, for there can be no forgiveness for what he and his cohorts did to destroy democracy in both the United States and the world.


It’s a mighty good premise, but, necessarily, as a scion of an ancient, rich family of privilege and a bureaucrat to his bones, Leverett can only write reports, policy papers, and lectures. Paul William Roberts, best known for his non-fiction, has committed, in Homeland, a strange reverse hybrid: instead of creative non-fiction, it’s a non-creative fiction, or perhaps better called a purely documentary fiction (until the final few pages that tell us what happened after the first atomic bomb fell on Israel sometime around 2008). Utilizing a tremendous amount of research, Roberts has Leverett paint a picture of a much greater neo-conservative conspiracy to take over government in the United States than even the most dedicated lefty might have imagined.


As a novel of intrigue, Homeland too often fails to engage the reader, but as a series of lectures on what’s wrong with governance in the U.S. and elsewhere today, it’s an eye-opener. Roberts has done the research, and a lot of what he suggests is happening is all too believable. Poor Leverett, who gave up the fight against what he saw happening far too soon, is full of shame, but he is a believable representative of an insider whose moral courage failed. And he does come across as someone who could know what he tells us. That he ends his confession by quoting Eisenhower’s famous final address to the nation, in which he warned against “the military-industrial complex,” says all about what this highly didactic novel seeks to achieve. The problem is that even readers who might agree are unlikely to find Homeland all that interesting as a novel.


Roberts, Paul William., “Homeland.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26876.