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2023 Vacation Book Review #3: The Mandibles (a Family 2029-2047)

Finally I get to provide a somewhat positive review for an old piece of doomer fiction that somehow had slipped through the cracks for me to obtain and read. Jim Puplava, a man I deeply respect for his economic and market insights, of Financial Sense Online mentioned this book during one of his podcasts and the story intrigued me enough to obtain a paperback copy via Amazon for my vacation.

The author of this book is Lionel Shriver, an interesting character with a very diverse group of books that she has authored. The Wikipedia entry about this book should provide my readers with an interesting insight into how this book flows:

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029–2047, published in May 2016, is set in a near-future in which the United States is unable to repay its national debt and Mexico has built a wall on its northern border to keep out US citizens trying to escape with their savings. Members of the moneyed Mandible family must contend with disappointment and struggle to survive after the inheritance they had been counting on turns out to have turned to ash. A sister bemoans a shortage of olive oil, while another has to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household. Her oddball teenage son Willing, an economics autodidact, looks as if he can save the once august family from the streets. The novel was “not science fiction”, Shriver told BBC Radio 4‘s Front Row on May 9, 2016. It is an “acid satire” in which “everything bad that could happen … has happened” according to the review in the Literary Review.

If this sounds a tad like my attempt of writing a novel (actually a blovel) titled The Day the Dollar Died in 2009, then one would be wrong. There are a lot of similarities initially but this book focuses more on one family, providing the daily trials and tribulations of the ongoing collapse of the American economy and the society around them. While the doom is not dissimilar from my own work, the author’s book provides some insight into the dealings of both the wealthy and middle class in a dollar collapse scenario.

I shall try not to reveal too much but where I agree and disagree with the Ms. Shriver’s conclusions are obvious. In one chapter she highlights the US military going door to door and confiscating gold from American citizens. I find this amusing as even during the prior decade, the logistical and risk profile for such an undertaking would never occur, even if the military used drones or even armored vehicles to intimidate the citizenry.

In another post, I shall explain why this is not even a practical outcome and why it would never happen in such a direct manner, but that part of the story does provide a window into the mindset of what the US government will devolve into; a path this nation is well on as of this posting.

The “Renunciation” is another highlight which one should consider a strong possibility for an American outcome in the decade ahead. There is no indication of personal or political responsibility entering into the discussion of the American mindset hence the easy way out for our leadership will be the actions they take, with the blessings of the masses of course.

One sentence in the book in particular is starting to ring true, especially for the elderly who tried to play by the rules all of their lives:

The pessimism that is bothering you, Willing, is a result of that sense of betrayal. The people who believed in the future now feel like dupes. Like victims of an enormous practical joke.

p. 297, paperback edition

Later in the book, as America started a slight economic recovery, the concept of “chipping” humans like the pets and livestock were appears as a viable part of the story. This is not an interruption, but the philosophical discussion presented by a pro-government family member highlights the struggles Americans probably will see in the not too distant future.

I highly recommend this entertaining book for not just the doomer crowd but for the Pollyanna “it can’t happen here” group also. While one may not agree with the conclusions throughout the book, it does provide one common theme which if one has not adopted, they had best do so now:

Get out of the big cities, NOW.

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