Monday, May 27, 2019

The American Crusade NBtM

A power-hungry vice president, a bad batch of shady intelligence, and a sinister plot to destroy Western civilization.

Just another day in America.

On May 1, 2001, a group of radical Islamic terrorists crash a Boeing 737 jet airliner into the Mall of America—and Vice President Robert Hornsby knows his moment is coming.

The attack kills three thousand American citizens and throws an entire nation into a panic, but all Hornsby sees is an opportunity, a chance to imprint his fanatical values on the soul of the country he loves and become the most powerful vice president in American history.

With the aid of his affable but ineffectual president; the reluctant, conscience-stricken secretary of defense; and a preening, foppish faith leader with more than a few skeletons in his closet; Hornsby declares war on terror—and anyone who stands in his way. But as media scrutiny of the administration’s actions overseas intensifies, Hornby’s one-man campaign against evil begins to unravel—with striking parallels to the thirteenth century’s doomed Fourth Crusade—and sends the nation spiraling toward another deadly tragedy.

The American Crusade paints a grim and often cynical picture of America’s recent past, reflecting the attitudes, politics, and fears that shaped our nation in the new millennium. By sampling the contemporaneous French text on the Fourth Crusade, On the Conquest of Constantinople, author Mark Spivak reminds us of that ever-vital adage: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Fans of The Castle by Jack Pinter, The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, House of Cards by Michael Dobbs, The Whistler by John Grisham, and the Aaron Sorkin–penned TV drama The West Wing will love this book.

To President George Cane, the assembled group represented “the full force and moral authority of the United States of America.”

To the Reverend Sanford J. Bayer, head of the White House Office of Faith and Reconciliation (known internally as the Woofers), they symbolized “the lawful arm of God’s righteous Kingdom … preparing to strike at the heart of our enemy.”

To Salman Al-Akbar, leader of the worldwide terrorist organization Husam al Din and the reason the dignitaries were gathered at this press conference, they were “the cancerous core of modern civilization, bleeding like an ulcer that must be removed.”

They included the heads of both houses of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Directors of the FBI and CIA, most of the Cabinet, and the Chief Justice of the United States.

And to the Vice President, who had assembled this improbable group, they were the usual suspects.


If you spend any time at all on social media, you know that politics is the subject of the moment. For better or worse, the current climate is super-heated and divisive. The silver lining is that more people are interested in the working of government and are expressing their opinions.

During the 15 years I spent in Washington, D.C., I became a political junkie simply by breathing the air. I weaved much of that fascination into my new political thriller, The American Crusade.

The year is 2001. George Cane, the affable and ineffective nephew of former President Herbert Cane, is in the White House. The power behind the throne is Robert Barton Hornsby, vice president and former CIA director—a man once characterized by The New Yorker as “the spy who refused to come in from the cold.” Hornsby was initially selected to run as vice president on the Cane ticket to provide legitimacy and guidance to the young governor.

On May 1, a group of terrorists hijack a jetliner and fly it into the Mall of America. Later that day, no fewer than six suicide attacks are carried out around the country, bringing the death toll to 3,000. America is at war with an amorphous and unknown enemy. Robert Hornsby seizes control of the U.S. government, and will not let go.

In the novel, the Middle East was carved up after World War II into three super-states: Kabulistan, Sumeristan and Persepostan. Initial intelligence reports link the terrorists to the Kabulistan border, where they are operating in the mountains with assistance from local warlords. President Cane announces that the U.S. will invade Kabulistan, topple the government and destroy the terrorist network. Suddenly and inexplicably, however, he changes his mind and informs the country that the dictator of Sumeristan, Hussein Ghazi, is the true culprit.

Both the Democratic Congress and the media are skeptical of this about-face, since they feel that Cane is trying to vindicate his uncle, who also invaded Sumeristan but failed to get a successful long-term outcome. Their objections are drowned out by the wave of patriotism that follows the attacks, and the invasion goes forward. During the U.S. occupation that follows, the situation begins to unravel, and the country spirals downward toward a massive foreign policy failure.

The modern story of the Sumeristan invasion is interspersed with excerpts from an eyewitness account of the Fourth Crusade. As the story develops, the parallels between the two events become strikingly and eerily similar.

This is not a 9/11 story: It is a meditation on the follies of history. Does history repeat itself, or are we the ones who keep repeating it? Read The American Crusade and form your own conclusions.

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Author Bio and Links:
In the realm of non-fiction, award-winning author Mark Spivak focuses on wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. His first book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, was published by Lyons Press in 2012. He followed this with Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014), hailed as the definitive book on illegal corn whiskey in America. From 1994-1999 he was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post, and was honored for excellence in wine criticism “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine & Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, and contributes to a number of national magazines. He is also the holder of the Certificate and Advanced Diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s first novel, Friend of the Devil, was published by Black Opal Books in May 2016. Set in Palm Beach in 1990, it tells the story of America’s most famous chef, who has sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune. 

Mark also has an endless fascination with the American political system and is an avid follower of Washington politics. His second novel, The American Crusade (a gripping political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, which dips into the shadowy world of government conspiracy and political sabotage), will be released by TCK Publishing on April 4. He is currently at work on Impeachment, the sequel to The American Crusade.

Visit Mark's website at, and sign up for his free newsletter and political