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Has anyone read American War by Omar El Akkad?

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Help me, please! I'm listening to it as an audiobook, and I'm confused. I feel like I've missed some crucial details about the premise. With an audiobook I can't just flip back and skim to find what I've missed, but I don't really want to go back and listen to the whole thing over again. I've tried googling for info, but every article I find starts giving away spoilers from later in the book.

So, I'm hoping someone here has read it and can help me out.

For those who haven't read it, it's a speculative fiction novel about a second American civil war in the late twenty-first century. https://www.amazon.com/American-War-Omar-El-Akkad/dp/0451493583





My biggest question is who are the "rebels"? Right now the family is at the refugee camp Patience. They have been there 6 years. I understand that the Free Southern States have seceded from the north and fighting is ongoing. The camp is right on the border and there are northern soldiers and the Free Southern army. But then there is mention of "rebels". Martina warns Simon not to join the rebels but to join the Free Southern army if he must fight. They also mention the rebels skirmishing with northern troops. So I am confused. Who are the rebels and who are they rebelling against?

This might not be an ideal book to listen to, because I keep getting confused about the timeline too. Weaved into the narrative are excerpts from newspaper and textbook accounts of the war. I'm never quite sure if these are supposed to be depicting events that happened before our narrative, or are happening contemporaneously, or perhaps even foreshadow later events. I think they mention dates, but I don't seem to absorb that very well while listening. Ugh, now I'm starting to think I should start over again so I can get everything straight.

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