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    THE WATCH by Dennis Danvers


    EOS, January 2002

    As he lies dying in the frustration of the Russian Revolution, the Anarchist Prince Peter Alexievich Kroptkin gets a strange visit. A man who claims to be from the future gives him the opportunity to live again--as a young man in America in 1999. Kropotkin agrees--who wouldn't--and sets off on a journey to a strange land. Richmond, Virginia, where Kropotkin ends up, is a city torn by its history. It remembers its brief role as capitol of the confederacy and is still capitol of a southern state, yet contains a largely African American population. Kropotkin isn't quite sure what his mysterious benefactor intends, but he sets out to live his life to the fullest--which, to him, means living by and sharing his anarchist ideals.

    Kropotkin's ideals spread and soon restaurant workers are saving waste food to share with the poor and Kropotkin himself is invited to speak at the University where he hopes to empart some of his ideas to the young from whom he anticipates the revolution will eventually flow. Although he knows that there will eventually be a price to pay for his resurrection, he hopes that he'll be able to create the momentum for change before he is called upon to pay this price.

    Author Dennis Danvers does fine job describing how a man who truly believes in the power of the people over the power of the state would live and how he would decide amongst the alternatives available to him, while at the same time making Kropotkin human, with human desires and flaws. The brief quotes from the historical Kropotkin's work add depth to the novel as well as framing the decisions the fictional Kropotkin must face. (See for more details on the historical Kropotkin's writings.

    THE WATCH is an enjoyable novel but it suffers from a protagonist who has no clear goals. While he seeks the utopian revolution that will overthrow the state and allow humans to live in harmony with one another and with nature, Kropotkin doesn't seem to really do much to bring this about (unless he believes that simply living that lifestyle will catch on). Without clear objectives for Kropotkin to work toward and for the reader to identify with, THE WATCH distances Kropotkin from the reader, reducing the emotional impact and reducing the reader's identification with Danvers' political message as well. This limitation notwithstanding, I enjoyed THE WATCH and am intrigued by the historical Kropotkin.

    Three Stars

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