‘Independence Square’ by A. D. Miller – Money Corrupts, Absolute Money Corrupts Absolutely

 

‘Independence Square’ by A. D. Miller (2020) – 244 pages

What has been happening in Ukraine for the last twenty years is now happening in the United States. Both countries have come under the severe influence of heavy Russian-style corruption, election interference, and chaos. Thus I wanted to read this novel of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and its aftermath by A. D. Miller whose novel ‘Snowdrops’ I read and much appreciated before.

The Orange Revolution took place in 2004, set off by a much disputed election which was marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and electoral fraud. There was a widespread public perception that the results of the Presidential election were rigged by the authorities in favor of Viktor Yanukovych over Viktor Yushchenko. During the election campaign Yushchenko’s face was disfigured after having ingested large amounts of a dioxin chemical. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kiev to protest the election results.

The rule of law, clean elections, the things you and I take for granted. Mostly they are just tired of being ripped off – the police, you know, the bureaucrats. The corruption is off the charts, Mr. Thompson.”

The protesters also remembered that a reporter investigating the election corruption disappeared, and latter his body was found in a forest but with no head.

Finally those original election results were annulled, and another election was held which was under intense scrutiny by domestic and international observers. The final results showed a clear victory for Yushchenko. The other candidate Yanukovych, considered the Russian candidate, would later become President in 2010 until he was ousted from office in 2014 for the “mass killing of Ukrainian civilians”.

‘Independence Square’ goes back and forth between 2004 and 2017. The time frame of individual chapters are not clearly marked, and sometimes, especially early on, it was difficult to tell from the writing which of the two time frames we were currently in. This problem could have easily been prevented by clearly labeling each chapter as either taking place in 2004 or 2017. Ultimately it became clear which time frame each scene takes place in, but early on it would have helped to make it obvious.

The plot of ‘Independence Square’ was interesting and well designed and executed, but the characters were not as vividly presented as this reader would have liked.

Earlier I mentioned the relevance of ‘Independence Square’ to what is happening in the United States today. The novel has the following line:

Always accuse your opponent of whatever scam you’re working yourself – that’s the basic MO.”

This is the exact same tactic the current President of the United States uses on his opponents. Perhaps the leader that Donald Trump most resembles is Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine.  Yanukovych is now living in exile in Russia. 

 

Grade:     B

 

7 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting! I tried to read his book Snowdrops but found the characters a bit two dimensional, and it didn’t grab me enough to carry on with. I don’t feel inclined to explore his work any more!

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    • Hi kaggsy,
      ‘Independence Square’ is by no means a “bad” novel, but I did like ‘Snowdrops’ somewhat more. I’m always looking for the next Graham Greene, and A. D. Miller is one of the contenders, but not quite.

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      • LOL We’re all looking for the next Graham Greene. But someone who starts out as anti-Russian isn’t going to be it. Greene was always more nuanced than that.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply

        • Hi Lisa,
          Graham Greene lived in different times from today. Vladimir Putin is a corrupt Far Right-Wing dictator who has nothing to do with socialism, more of a gangster than an ideologue. I doubt Graham Greene would have liked Putin.

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          • Greene didn’t like many of the governments he wrote about, but he had a nuanced view of why governments and their leaders behave the way they do. If Snowdrops is any guide, Miller doesn’t have that complex understanding of geopolitics that Green had from his time in the foreign office. He’s just a journalist using the populist narrative about the ‘new cold war’.

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  2. I had to give up on this one. The early sections were indeed confusing but once I’d unravelled them, I found I just didn’t care much about any of the characters. Snowdrops wasn’t great but still more enjoyable than this.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Hi BookerTalk,
      Yes, Independence Square could have been more compelling. Of the new writers in this genre, I prefer Lawrence Osborne, and he’s got another one coming out.

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