Part IV and beyond …

The Three Soldiers

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 1967

Where should I end Part III? I had originally intended to end it several chapters further on, but as Part III progressed I became more and more convinced that ending it at Chapter 31 made the most sense so that’s what I did. Now that may not seem very important and it probably isn’t, especially since I’m not planning to change anything in the coming Part as a result. But ending Part III after Chapter 31 does have a couple of consequences that I wanted to mention.

First, it means that the third d in the sub-title of Part III, Despair, never gets addressed in Part III as originally planned. Instead it will become the focus of the initial chapters of Part IV. I don’t think that’s a very big deal at the end of the day, but it’s something I wanted to mention so you could think about it.

Changing where Part III ends also means that Part IV, the next twenty chapters, will be the single longest section of the story and to be honest it may be too long. By contrast, Part V, which is the last part, is the shortest, planned for just two chapters right now.

I had always intended Part IV to be the longest section, but now it’s going to be even longer than originally planned. And eventually it will also be told from two different points of view that will alternate back and forth for several chapters at a time. On top of that, the narrative won’t be entirely linear. I realize all of that may be confusing so you’ll need to read the upcoming chapters even more carefully than usual.

Parts IV and V will continue to tell the stories of our main characters, focusing initially on Andy whom we just met in the last chapter and need to get to know a bit better; and since Andy works on Capitol Hill, these last two parts will also spin a political tale as well, one built around an ongoing war that will touch upon many other things as well.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the war in Burkistan is not a thinly disguised metaphor for the war in Vietnam. It’s a thinly disguised metaphor for all of the wars of the last fifty years. But since this week marks the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought the images and the quote were appropriate as an introduction. From what I’m told, he was hated quite intensely at the time for speaking out against the war. And now we honor him in the United States with another day to do some shopping.

I realize many of you may not be into political tales very much and may be wondering right now just how boring, tedious and annoying these last two parts of the story are going to be. But since I’m the storyteller rather than a reader, I’m not really in the best position to answer that question for you. All I can do is to encourage you to read on and decide for yourself, keeping in mind that politics is about people after all and even political critters can be interesting at times 🙂

Yes, there may be times when you dislike it and may not be entirely happy with the tale about to be told, but I’m hoping you’ll find it interesting and perhaps even exciting at times.

Having said that, I do think Parts IV and V pose a bit of a dilemma because quite a few of you who are reading this story live in countries other than the United States and may not be as familiar with the American system of government or American politics as some of my American readers. But even my American readers may find the going a little hard at times because there is some pretty insider Washington stuff at points in what follows.

I thought about whether I should actually provide a little tutorial on American government and politics at this point; and I even wrote one up. But, take my word for it, it was boring as hell 🙂

And the truth is I don’t think it’s really that necessary if you keep in mind two things about American government and politics. For one thing, power is shared between different institutions and individuals in the American system of government. The President is especially important, of course, but he or she can be challenged or checked at times by other actors or institutions, like the Congress or the courts, for example. And it’s that ongoing struggle between different institutions and individuals that can provide the grist for some interesting stories; at least that’s what I think.

And then the second thing to keep in mind is that we don’t have a parliamentary system of government in America where individual members of the legislature vote strictly along party lines all the time. A President of one party may take positions that others members of his own party in the House of Representatives or the Senate disagree with, and those Representatives and Senators won’t necessarily feel obligated to do whatever the President wants them to do.

So if you keep those two points in mind, the political tale I spin should be understandable I think. But if you have questions or find something puzzling, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to clarify anything you find confusing.

And I guess one final point would be this. Just like we learned something about Tommy’s job in Part III, we’re going to learn something about Andy’s job in Parts IV and V. But it really isn’t necessary to get caught up in all of the details. If you get the general idea, i.e., that Andy’s job involves a lot of writing, strategizing, negotiating, and planning, that’s really the important thing.

So I’ll leave it at that by way of introduction to Parts IV and V. And I’ll mention again that you should definitely feel free to ask questions if you find something confusing. I’ll try my best to minimize the opportunity for confusion, but I’m probably not the best judge of how well I am succeeding so questions are definitely most welcome and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Grave Marker


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