Title: The Nation’s Highest Honor // Author: James Gaitis // Publisher: Kunati Inc. // Date: May 2009 // 256 p.
Anything about the American deserts excite me…so I was psyched to review James Gaitis’ The Nation’s Honor, published earlier this month. This novel’s main character is a reclusive artist-type named Leonard Bentwood who lives in a barnboard shack somewhere way out in the desert. The location sounds like places I’ve been to in the Utah desert, but Gaitis probably drew from his own knowledge of the Sonoran Desert to create Bentwood’s retreat. Plot basics: The reclusive Leonard Bentwood has been singled out to receive an award called The Nolebody Medal, which is widely regarded as the nation’s highest honor. The novel is set slightly into the future, and biotechnology has enabled governments to inoculate the global population against violence. So everybody gets along. But…scientists discover that the vaccine has a shorter half-life than they expected. The President decides to award Leonard Bentwood the Nolebody Medal—just as all hell is about to break loose—because he thinks that someone like Bentwood will assuage the masses. Bentwood travels to the nation’s capitol to receive the award, and he unwittingly sets off a chain of events far different from what the President expected. Of course, I can’t tell you what happens because it would spoil the ending, so I suggest you read the book yourself and find out! The Nation’s Highest Honor is a smart, satirical, political, environmental, pretty good read.
To read my more formal-type review of The Nation’s Highest Honor on NewWest, click here.