The author of the “urgent and deeply moving” (TheNew York Times) Youngblood returns with this bold and provocative novel following a group of super-powered soldiers and civilians as they navigate an imperial America on the precipice of a major upheaval—for fans of The Fortress of Solitude and The Plot Against America.
Thirty years after its great triumph in Vietnam, the United States has again become mired in an endless foreign war overseas. Stories of super soldiers known as the Volunteers tuck in little American boys and girls every night. Yet domestic politics are aflame. Violent protests erupt throughout the nation; an ex-military watchdog group clashes with police while radical terrorists threaten to expose government experiments within the veteran rehabilitation colonies.
Halfway between war and peace, the Volunteers find themselves waiting for orders in the vast American city-state, Empire City. There they encounter a small group of civilians who know the truth about their powers, including Sebastian Rios, a young bureaucrat wrestling with survivor guilt, and Mia Tucker, a wounded army pilot-turned-Wall Street banker. Meanwhile, Jean-Jacques Saint-Preux, a Haitian-American Volunteer from the International Legion, decides he’ll do whatever it takes to return to the front lines.
Through it all, a controversial retired general emerges as a frontrunner in the presidential campaign, promising to save the country from itself. Her election would mean unprecedented military control over the country, with promises of security and stability—but at what cost?
Featuring Gallagher’s “vital” (The Washington Post), “evocative” (TheWall Street Journal) prose, Empire City is a rousing vision of an alternate—yet all too familiar—America on the brink.
Matt Gallagher is a Wake Forest graduate and US Army veteran. He’s the author of the Iraq novel Youngblood and memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. He holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia and has written for TheNew York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire, and The Paris Review. He lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn.
"On one level, the novel is a parable -- with overtones of Graham Greene's The Quiet American...On another, it's a story about how we tell stories to friends and strangers, trying to convey experiences they will never know firsthand, and how we tell ourselves stories to reckon with the past...Mr. Gallagher has a keen reportorial eye, a distinctive voice and an instinctive sympathy for the people he is writing about, and he uses those gifts here to immerse us in his characters's lives...With Youngblood, he has written an urgent and deeply moving novel."
– The New York Times
"While [Gallagher's] nonfiction was visceral, immediate and reportorial, his fiction transforms direct experience into something more layered and complex. Gallagher’s voice is vital, literary and sometimes lyrical...smart, fierce and important."
– The Washington Post
“A timely and moving story of the realities and psychological consequences of war.”
– Harper's Bazaar
"[Gallagher] writes about war like you've never read before ... in its emotional nuance, Youngblood codifies the fact that this is a voice to be reckoned with."
"The Iraq Novel We've Been Waiting For. [A] dark, suspenseful meditation on [the] impact abroad ... America's first great work of reckoning."
– The Daily Beast
"Gallagher’s riveting combination of gritty military jargon, sharply drawn characters, and suspenseful story line adds up to one of the best modern war novels since Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam classic, The Things They Carried (1990). Highly recommended."
– Booklist, starred review
“A complex tale about the Iraq War, intrigue, love, and survival. Gallagher follows up on his successful first book, the memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War (2010), with a smart Iraq War novel that adds something new to the genre—new genres. Gallagher subtly weaves throughout this excellent, brutal tale intrigue, a mystery, and two compelling love stories… A fresh twist on the Iraq War novel adds depth to this burgeoning genre.”
– Kirkus, starred review
"A flat-out great novel about the Iraq war and about much, much more. It's truthful, urgent, grave and darkly funny. Everyone should read it."
– Richard Ford
"Youngblood is not only a 'war novel,' it is a rich, fully formed, and beautifully executed novel-novel, way beyond the chicken coops of genre, a novel about the human heart in contest with itself, a novel about memory and longing and grief and hope and guilt and late-night ironies that raise a chuckle to the lips of the dead. Yes, the people and events in this fine novel are certainly 'tangled up' with war, as the author puts it on page one,but it is the same sort of entanglement that Lord Jim has with the ocean, or the sort of entanglement that Huck Finn has with the river."
– Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried
“Thrilling, tragic, and darkly funny, Matt Gallagher's Youngblood is a brilliant portrait of command in the modern, morally bruising battlefield.”
– Phil Klay, New York Times bestselling author of Redeployment
"Not only does Youngblood rank among the very best books of our seemingly endless Iraq war, it's one of the best novels I've ever read of war, period . . . Matt Gallagher's fierce, brilliant novel should serve as a slap in the face to a culture that's grown all too comfortable with the notion of endless war."
– Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk