Review – Caliphate (Novel)

23 December, 2012

Caliphate by Tom Kratman is a fable disguised as speculative fiction.

Set in the early 22nd Century where Europe has fallen to the tide of Islam (from their greater birthrates and immigration), America is an expansionist near-fascist state after terrorist nuclear weapons destroyed several US cities, the rest of the world is rather ill-defined except that the whites are back in power in South Africa and China is a kingdom again. Primarily it serves as a warning of what the author thinks will happen to Europe if they do not wake up and take the Islamic demographic threat seriously (this is made explicit in the afterward).

The characters are at best two-dimensional, and the Muslims are almost universally wicked and liberals universally blind to the Islamic threat in the flashbacks, but the action is well written. But it remains a fable, that the US is good (even if it has to abandon everything noble it stands for and become an empire to fight the Islamic threat) and Islam is bad, all Muslims are bad and incapable of adapting to the West (and secretly want to impose the most barbaric form of Islam on everyone), and -for good measure- the Chinese are bad too but at least they hate Islam.

It is an interesting read but there are no surprises, political points are hammered home with the subtly of a sledge hammer and the rape scenes are gratuitous. But if you think the theme is intriguing, it may be worth your time to read.


  1. Nah. Or partially “nah,” anyway. There are almost exactly as many good and wicked Muslims characters as good or wicked non-Muslim. That was deliberate. Yes, go ahead and count them. I’ll help: Besma, her father, his slave, any of the Janisseries, who, after all, are just conscript soldiers…

    The US is not good. It’s a barbaric nightmare – perhaps a little better than the Caliphate but not much – that has some good people in it. As does, see above, the Caliphate. Go ahead and assimilate that, then see how much of the rest of your review still works for you.

    • Thank you for your comments. Point accepted but it is a short review and the wicked do outnumber the good, the Janissaries are just doing their job after all and do not really fall on either side of the scale, and even the good do not actively oppose the extremes of their culture.

      And I do stand by my review, I had mulled over the book for several weeks since finishing it before writing this review. Obviously, my perception of the book will differ from yours.

  2. Here, by the way, is a review I personally kind of like: http://dprice.blogspot.com/2008/04/its-dystopia-you-twit.html

  3. Doing their jobs? So is Hamilton. So are the Christian Filipinos under US command machine gunning Moro civilians into ditches. Note, the Jannisarries didn’t do anything like that.

    Couple of other things. No, the rapes are not gratuitous. They’re there to advance the thesis of the book and to trip the “protect the women and children” reflex. They would be gratuitous only if they didn’t do either of those. I’m fairly confident they did, though. Perhaps you have a different definition of gratuitous.

    Neither do the “good” Americans do anything much to oppose their system. People seem to have a lot of trouble with this. There are good people, but there are no good sides in that book, while everyone is largely a product of their society.

    By the way, lest you get the wrong idea, don’t change a word of your review. I’m sure it’s sincerely felt. If I didn’t appreciate it, I wouldn’t waste my time telling you where I think you got it wrong.

    • Which is why I weigh the Janessaries as neither wicked nor good. The Imperial troops I would also mostly place in the wicked category.

      The Americans are good purely in the sense that they are obviously the protagonists and working within what the story frames as a justified war. As you say, there are no good sides in your story.

      Gratuitous is the sense of being uncalled-for or excessive, the fact of the rape is sufficient, I do not need a multi-page description to prove to me it is wrong.

      And thank you for an interesting discussion.

      • Maybe you didn’t need it. Are you my only reader? If so, I’m screwed. Right….no; that’s not good; that’s just being the protagonist. I’m trying to think of a good example…aha…remember Caesar in Colleen McCullough’s Rome series? An obvious amoral, evil, wicked, not nice bastard. And still the protagonist.

        You’re welcome.

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