January 14, 2016
Member of the Oregon militia is also the author of a post-apocalyptic novel
by Julia Fleischaker
Last month, LaVoy Finicum traveled from Arizona to rural Oregon to join the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge. The standoff bears a striking resemblance to scenes from Finicum’s authorial debut, Only by Blood and Suffering: Regaining Lost Freedom, published just a few months ago. Finicum describes the book on his website (and on Goodreads!) as “a stirring, fast-paced novel about what matters most in the face of devastating end-times chaos.”
(Finicum’s website also boasts what may be my favorite blurb ever: “A book you do not want to read, but must…” from Cliven Bundy, “Last Rancher Standing.”)
Buzzfeed‘s Jim Dalyrmple read the book so we don’t have to. The book follows the Bonham family, a broud of ranchers in Utah trying to get home after a nuclear attack:
The first chapters recount how the Bonhams converge on the family homestead — witnessing murder, rape, and cannibalism along the way — while the later portions are about a “war” between well-armed, well-prepared ranchers and their short-sighted neighbors and government agents.
The ranchers, and particularly protagonist Jake Bonham, are the heroes of the story as they take a stand against tyranny — and shoot many of those who oppose them.
Dalrymple goes on to cite sections of the book about gun control (“The heroes of the story refuse to surrender their guns, and consequently are able to kill the neighbors and government agents who come to take their supplies by force.”); and the FDA’s “rampage against raw milk, public schools, national debt, and various federal programs.” There are sheeple waiting haplessly for their “Good Government Shepherds,” and Zachary Williams, a Homeland Security agent who “conscripts an army of convicted felons and spearheads a plan to turn the region around southern Utah and northern Arizona into a kind of fascist kingdom.”
And, of course, there’s the issue of government ownership of land. As Dalrymple explains, “several of the rural towns in the novel—which are real places—are described as once-prosperous communities that suffered economically as a result of government involvement”:
Only by Blood and Suffering portrays a future that vindicates the worldview of the Oregon occupiers. It’s a future defined by government overreach and cowboy justice, and the parallels to real life offer a unique glimpse into the values at play in the standoff. There is, however, one big difference: The end of the book is a bloodbath.
Only by Blood and Suffering is fiction, and ends in an orgy of violence, obviously, as these cowboy dreams tend to. And although Finicum has said he would rather die than be arrested by the FBI, the real life standoff has remained thankfully peaceful so far.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.