Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Book Review: Agenda 21

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Picture yourself living in a small cell in a tightly packed set of compounds divided from the rest of the world by a fence. Your every action is monitored. Your nourishment and water are carefully rationed and given only at designated times. The color of your uniform identifies your occupation. No you are not in prison, but rather the citizen of an all-powerful Republic that has replaced what was once the United States. This fenced set of compounds, located somewhere in the “Republic,” is the setting of Glenn Beck’s newly released novel Agenda 21

Agenda 21 depicts not what is, but rather what could be if the words and statements from Agenda 21’s actual documents and UN promoters were to be carried out to their fullest meaning. 

It is a fictional account from the point of view of a fourteen-year-old girl named Emmeline living in a not-too-distant future, where the private ownership of property is forbidden and citizens are subject to an all powerful “Central Authority” that pledges its collective allegiance to the Republic and the protection of the Earth. 

Citizens live in tightly confined compounds with their “paired” companion, mandated to produce both healthy children and energy for the Republic. Every action is strictly monitored and recorded by the Authority. Citizens consume less than what they produce, receiving equal rations of nourishment and water each day. House, church, Bible, God, and Jesus are all words of the past, what matters now is what is, and what is, is subject to the requirements of the Republic. 

The United States and its traditional pledge of allegiance have been replaced with a new Republic and the following pledge:

We pledge our allegiance

To the wisdom of Central Authority

We pledge our dedication

To the Earth and to its preservation

Those in power recite, “Praise to the Republic” throughout the novel, with citizenry obediently repeating. “Do not fight them” are the words told to Emmeline by her father, who, like Emmeline's mother, tries to protect her. The novel depicts the story of Emmeline’s quest for knowledge and to “save what you think you’re going to lose.” 

It is an easy read, written at a middle-school or high-school level. Chapters are no more than five pages long, with one as short as a page and a half. The brevity of the chapter divisions make it easy for one to read a chapter or two, even when pressed for time. 

The book is 295 pages, but the actual novel itself ends on page 277. The remainder is an afterword written by Glenn Beck himself. The novel content on the other hand, despite bearing Beck’s name on the front cover in large print, was actually written by Harriet Parke.

Parke is a registered nurse who specializes in emergency nursing and Emergency Department management, according to her brief biography in the back inside flap of the book. Although Agenda 21 is Parke’s first published novel, she has been published in the My Dad Is My Hero anthology, five Voices from the Attic anthologies, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Pittsburgh Magazine

As a listener and viewer of Beck’s radio and cable television programs, Parke became interested in Agenda 21, the United Nation’s socialistic program for “sustainable development,” first unveiled at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

After hearing about the program and the possible ramifications of its implementation, she did her own research and decided to write about it in the best way she knew how, short stories and fiction. So she wrote the novel.

The novel is not written for the anti-Agenda 21 enthusiast that wishes to learn all about Agenda 21, its origins, and its intended consequences. Rather, it is written for those who have never heard of it, and is presented in a way that Parke hopes will lure the reader's curiosity without overloading him/her with names, dates, and other such historical facts.

The novel is written in as an entertaining story, with fourteen-year-old Emmeline, like Parke’s target audience, being unaware of what Agenda 21 is and why the things (in the futuristic setting of the story) are the way they are. In fact, the term “Agenda 21” only appears once in the book’s first 277 pages, and then only in passing as the name of the past “law” that spawned the creation of the current post-American dystopia in which the novel takes place. 

Parke’s extreme interpretation of Agenda 21 is not that much different from Ayn Rand's depiction of collectivism in the novel Anthem, where the word “I” and individuality have been replaced with “we.” Emmeline is similar to Rand’s male protagonist in Anthem, “Equality 7-2521,” who, like Emmeline, is also on a quest for forbidden knowledge while having to deal with love. 

If you know about Agenda 21 and want to learn more about its specific details and how it will affect you and your community, then this is not the book for you, but if you love novels and enjoy reading fiction, then consider this novel a personal treat. It is very enjoyable, keeping the reader excited from chapter to chapter. Agenda 21 is both a fun and entertaining read, and hopefully not the end of Emmeline’s story. 


Agenda 21, by Glenn Beck and Harriet Parke, New York, NY: Treshold Editions/Mercury Radio Arts, 2012, 295 pages, hardcover. 

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