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Summary

Summary

oI hope no one secedes, but I also hope that Americans figure out creative ways to resist injustice and create communities where everybody counts. We've got a long history of resistance in Vermont and this book is testimony to that fact.o
-Bernie Sanders

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.


Author Notes

Bill McKibben grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper in college. Immediately after college he joined the New Yorker magazine as a staff writer, and wrote much of the "Talk of the Town" column from 1982 to early 1987. After quitting this job, he soon moved to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.

His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in the New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has been printed in more than 20 languages. Several editions have come out in the United States, including an updated version published in 2006.

His next book, The Age of Missing Information, was published in 1992. It is an account of an experiment: McKibben collected everything that came across the 100 channels of cable tv on the Fairfax, Virginia system (at the time among the nation's largest) for a single day. He spent a year watching the 2,400 hours of videotape, and then compared it to a day spent on the mountaintop near his home. This book has been widely used in colleges and high schools, and was reissued in 2006. McKibben's latest book is entitled, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Bill currently resides with his wife, writer Sue Halpern, and his daughter, Sophie in Ripton, Vermont. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. 030 (Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* McKibben (Oil and Honey, 2013), a nonfiction master with more than a dozen books to his credit, as well as an innovative environmentalist, presents his first novel, a rambunctious satire set in his beloved Vermont. Longtime radio host Vern Barclay, 72, alarmed by global warming's impact on Vermont's legendary winters and irked by the directives of the mega-communications corporation that took over his local station, plots to subtly subvert his broadcast about the opening of a new Walmart. But Perry, Vern's autistic tech-genius assistant with an encyclopedic passion for soul music, gets carried away, and they end up as fugitives from the law. So naturally they launch a protest podcast, Radio Free Vermont, underground, underpowered, and underfoot, which kicks off a surprisingly enthusiastic secessionist movement. Their cohorts include three indomitable women: Sylvia, fire chief and sole proprietor of the School for New Vermonters, a vehicle for hilarious parody; Olympic Gold-winning biathlon star and Iraq War veteran Trance; and Vern's 96-year-old mother. Brewing up a Yankee variation on Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), McKibben orchestrates wildly imaginative dissent, crazy escapes, risky rescues, and rousing paeans to nature and homegrown democracy. In a time when smart comedy is essential to survival, McKibben's shrewdly uproarious and provocative fable of resistance is exhilarating.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Summoning the spirit of Edward Abbey, environmentalist and author McKibben (The End of Nature) makes his fiction debut with this rollicking tale of monkeywrenching and political activism. Proud Vermonter, local ale lover, and radio personality Vern Barclay didn't mean to become a radical, but when the new owners of his radio station tell him he can't be critical of big media on his show he pushes back by getting creative with his coverage of the controversial opening of a new Walmart. After things spiral out of control he's forced to go underground, but that doesn't stop him from continuing his clever acts of resistance, including hacking into the sound system of a Bennington Starbucks to broadcast a Radio Free Vermont podcast touting the value of buying local. The podcast's tone quickly becomes revolutionary, and soon Barclay has called for secession to be put on the agenda of town meetings across the state, and Ben and Jerry's has created a Free Vermont ice cream flavor (made with Vermont milk and maple syrup, of course). Aided by a motley crew of friends and recruits, Barclay's disruptive hijinks get bigger and crazier (including setting a house on fire) as the authorities close in on him. With a playful and quick-moving plot that belies the seriousness of the book's environmental and political message, McKibben's stirring call for recognizing the value and power of smallness in a globalized world makes for a vital and relevant fable. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Vern Barclay is an accidental radical. A native of Vermont, he has watched his beloved state slowly transform from a small, neighborly, rural culture to one that values big-box stores, stadiums with retractable roofs, and, horror of horrors, big-name cheap beer. Now in his 70s, facing the end of his career on local talk radio, Vern goes into hiding, branded a terrorist after a subversive stunt at a Walmart goes wild. Vern and his friends spread their message of resistance first through his podcast Radio Free Vermont and then through minor acts of pro-Vermont environmentalism and mischief. Resistance begins to reach toward revolution as Vern struggles with the ethics of his decisions and worries if he might be leading his friends to a new utopia or to jail. Set in the immediate future, complete with references to current politics, the plot feels possible, even probable. Vern and his compatriots are engaging and realistic. VERDICT With great care and humor, debut novelist McKibben's (The End of Nature; Oil and Honey) spirited and thought-provoking modern fable will have readers grappling with the ethical questions of how and when resistance is necessary. [See Prepub Alert, 5/7/17.]-Jennifer Beach, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2017 Bill McKibben Excerpted from Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance by Bill McKibben All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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