To Challenge the Present

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
341 Pages
Reviewed on 08/21/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Trudi LoPreto for Readers' Favorite

To Challenge the Present by James Huber is a thought provoking ‘what-if’ fictional novel. Part One of the book takes place at the end of the Revolutionary War, during the time in history when George Washington became our first president. Part Two of this well written novel assumes that Washington had become King instead of President. We are now in the twenty-first century, ten generations later. The new leader is Washington’s descendant, Edward Lake, King Edward V of New England. There is a new war taking place between the Kingdom of New England and New France. Philadelphia is the capital and the Red French forces are trying to take control. The Kingdom of New England is not going to allow this and will do whatever is necessary to win. There is a deal made with Mexico for a secret weapon that will surely end the war. Battles ensue and both sides suffer defeats and loss of men.

To Challenge the Present portrayed what a very different America we could have been living in and it made for fascinating reading. James Huber has written a well thought out and probably very accurate and probable story if this had been the decision our forefathers had made back in 1776. To Challenge the Present was very real and I felt as if I was inside the minds of the leaders on both sides and shared in the ups and downs each battle. I highly recommend this book to all history buffs and to all who would like to imagine our country with a different political scene. To Challenge the Present is a winner in every way.

Katelyn Hensel

James Huber exceeds expectations with a captivating and imaginative alternate history in the form of To Challenge the Present. Asking the questions about...what if America wasn't a democracy? What if George Washington had declared himself king instead of president...what then? These are not the John Adams, or Thomas Jeffersons of your textbooks. These are conflicted and feckless characters who have their own ideas of how to run the newly fledgling colony/country of America. While the point of view was mainly omniscient, we also spent a lot of our time in the perspectives of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, which was really cool.

To Challenge the Present was unique in that it cast our nation's historical figures as average characters. Looking back through the lens of history, it's easy to see them as akin to minor gods...doing nothing wrong, being the brave shapers of our future country. However, they were people too, and James Huber does a great job giving them personalities, quirks, and habits just like any other group of characters. However, there were a LOT of characters. Sometimes we would "meet" 3-4 characters on one page, but then never see those characters again. It was a lot to really wrap your mind around and keep straight. Pacing was a bit of a struggle for me, as I felt that some parts really dragged, despite this being a relatively short novel, but there was just so much of the story to tell that I can understand the drag somewhat. To Challenge the Present blends history and fiction perfectly, so that you could almost believe that this is how it happens...our world could be completely different, and Huber has given that flicker of imagination.

Ray Simmons

To Challenge the Present by James Huber is an interesting alternative history novel. It starts from a well known historical event. Near the end of the War of Independence, a group of Colonels requested that George Washington make himself King of the new nation. Washington considered and declined, maybe his greatest gift to the American experiment. But what if he had accepted this offer? That is the premise and story behind To Challenge the Present. The novel is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the response of the Colonists to the heavy tax burden imposed on them by the Crown. This story is fascinating for its unique take on the historical characters that we think we know so well. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and especially Thomas Jefferson, are shown in a new light and it is sometimes eerie and a little unsettling but very good reading.

James Huber does a good job of showing the political differences between the Northern and Southern colonies. He also gives us a glimpse of what the people and politicians in England were thinking, which is something I haven't seen much in the history books I've read. I think the thing that impressed me most with To Challenge the Present is that I felt the characters were responding to real events in a way that made me feel they were real men, not gods or heroes, or sacred forefathers. The writing is good but it is the characterization that really excels here.