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Radio Free Vermont

By: Bill Mckibben

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Blue Rider Press

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780735219861

On Sale: | Pages: 240

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A book that's also the beginning of a movement, Bill McKibben's debut novelRadio Free Vermontfollows a band of Vermont patriots who decide that their state might be better off as its own republic. As the host of Radio Free Vermont--"underground, underpowered, and underfoot"--seventy-two-year-old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an "undisclosed and double-secret location." With the help of a young computer prodigy named Perry Alterson, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy. But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law. In Radio Free Vermont, Bill McKibben entertains and expands upon an idea that's become more popular than ever--seceding from the United States. Along with Vern and Perry, McKibben imagines an eccentric group of activists who carry out their own version of guerilla warfare, which includes dismissing local middle school children early in honor of 'Ethan Allen Day' and hijacking a Coors Light truck and replacing the stock with local brew. Witty, biting, and terrifyingly timely, Radio Free Vermont is Bill McKibben's fictional response to the burgeoning resistance movement.
“Radio Free Vermont” is a charming bit of artisanal resistance lit. It's a bit rough, with the occasional nailhead poking up too high. (Perry's upspeak? It gets to be, um, a bit much?) But what's surprising is how well-crafted the book is overall; how unhokey its folksiness feels, and how true its observations ring.
—New York Times
The novel, which was blurbed by Bernie Sanders himself, is being marketed as a grippingly relevant tale for these dire times. In some ways, this marketing is a stretch. Yes, McKibben's evocations of the ravages of global warming are relevant and poignant – the book takes place in January, but Vermont is in the throes of another warm, muddy winter. His depiction of overarmed local police forces...are also spot-on. But overall, the big bad world that "Radio Free Vermont"'s characters fight against doesn't read alarmingly like ours; if anything, it actually feels dated.... But even if it's not a shockingly relevant mirror of these modern times, "Radio Free Vermont" is still worth reading, because it espouses a timeless principle that is indeed relevant today: local government and grassroots efforts hold great power to transform the world around us.... "Radio Free Vermont" may not live up to certain aspects of its marketing, but it's a stirring reminder of the importance of loving our home, working with the people around us to figure out what we want that home to look like in the future, and then fighting for that vision. Now that's a fable worth remembering.
—Christian Science Monitor
Few audiences will read Bill McKibben's latest book with as much wry appreciation as Seattleites. Not merely because McKibben opens his tale, “Radio Free Vermont,” with a hefty swing at Starbucks' assembly-line lattes, but because he articulates the fantasy entertained by so many in private musings about the Trump administration and globalization and the horrors swamping daily news. That is, the idea of secession.... McKibben, known primarily as an environmentalist who writes for the layman, never lets his politics sour what is, at heart, a romp.
—Seattle Times
...a little comic story with a big political message.... McKibben, who lives in Vermont, has re-created on the page the pleasures of a good old radio voice: a lulling mixture of curious detail, dignified outrage and self-deprecating humor.... To say this is a small novel would be no offense to the author, who praises smallness throughout, but I wish McKibben sounded a little more anxious about the sinister trappings of secession movements.
—Washington Post
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