Free Dakota

Free Dakota

An homage, inspired by and rife with allusions to America’s favorite novel, Atlas Shrugged.


Don Jenkins wants a divorce from the United States. He’s tired of a government that can't balance its budget but thinks it can dictate how much soda he should drink. Combining political intrigue and political theory, Free Dakota explores the new possibilities when Don follows the call of a charismatic diner owner who promises a libertarian paradise on the prairie. After years of struggle they have the votes for a peaceful secession, but the feds say it's 'til death do us part. Stopping the feds may cost more in integrity than in blood, however, when Don has to decide whether to stay after an assassination changes everything.


Free Dakota' a Modern Libertarian Thriller Philosopher William Irwin's new novel "Free Dakota" is a thrilling piece of fiction that both explains the ideology of libertarianism and illustrates how liberty can be achieved. Blogger Don Jenkins is the novel's protagonist, and his blog, titled "The Soda Blog," becomes the voice of libertarianism, much like John Galt's speech in "Atlas Shrugged." Jenkins first finds himself sympathizing with a pseudo-socialist secession attempt in Vermont, and while he sees these people as "misguided granola-munching hippies," they strengthen his belief that the consent to be governed can be withdrawn. Jenkins and his fellow libertarians within the movement branch off to create their own party, called the Free Vermont Party. The Free Vermont Party isn't successful in the Green Mountain State, leading Jenkins to relocate and explore another secession movement in North Dakota. In North Dakota, Jenkins meets John and Mary Mackey, who own a diner and lead the Free North Dakota movement. Jenkins is inspired by the persuasive Mackeys to relocate to North Dakota, along with swaths of other people, in an attempt to over-populate the state with secessionist ideologues. The movement at first seems reminiscent of the real world example, the Free State Project in New Hampshire. The next few chapters tackle what it would look like in a Free North Dakota - how roads would be created, how health care would work, how education would work, and myriad other issues. As people begin moving to North Dakota in large numbers - to avoid taxes or find freedom - federal investigator Webster Daniels begins to consider the movement a serious threat to the union. In an attempt to slow the FND's progress, Mayor Klosterman bans the use of goldens, but even that doesn't slow it down. A major corporation called Andyne comes around to moving its employees to North Dakota and supports the movement. The corporation has plans to expand as part of the secession, thanks in large part to the zero corporate tax mentality that is intertwined with FND. As the movement continues to grow, the government decides to send in the military under the auspices of "keeping the peace," however, in reality the goal is for the military members to live in Dakota long enought to vote down the secession bid. Military members Roger Varrick and Sarah Andersen begin feeling a since of camaraderie toward the FND movement and are ordered by their superiors to stop going to Mackey's diner. Varrick listens, but Andersen does not, and she is detained by the military. Andersen's detention inspires Jenkins' girlfriend, Lorna, to become a leader of FND. Her speeches about the issue go viral and public opinion sways toward FND, because of the perceived innocence of Andersen. The final few chapters get particularly thrilling, and the movement begins to gain more and more steam. In order to not spoil the novel, I'll simply say the ending is both tragic and inspirational. Libertarianism can be a difficult philosophy to explain, especially in a thrilling and exciting way, but that is exactly what Irwin has achieved with his page-turning, 203-page novel "Free Dakota." Readers will find themselves sympathizing with various characters from Don Jenkins, to John Mackey, to Lorna Kristman, to Sarah Andersen. ~ Dan King,

Life has been going downhill for Don Jenkins. He is a writer with Writer’s block, his kid is grown and his ex-wife wants more money which he isn’t able to give. His biggest problems start though as he goes into a 7 11 to get his extra-large mug filled with soda and the cashier won’t fill it because it’s against Government regulations. Don is tired of the Government’s restrictions on our freedoms and wants a change. Don blogs about his feelings on the government and supports a movement called Second Vermont Republic which wants to break away from the United States and govern itself. Things aren’t going well with the movement though and one day a comment on his blog leads him to North Dakota. Here he finds a man named Mackey who wants to turn North Dakota into its own self-sufficient country. The Free Dakota movement is being met with major opposition though and with the feds investigating and the armed forces entering the state to keep the peace, everything is about to change for Don. Free Dakota by William Irwin is an interesting book and whether you like it or not will depend on what you are looking for. If you want action, adventure and a great story then this one might not be for you. What it does have is a good social commentary, political debate and good ideas on how society should work from characters that are entertaining and believable. After you read Free Dakota you will want to have a discussion about it when you finish. When I first started reading Free Dakota I had to get use to it because I kept thinking that regular people don’t talk like this and the story seemed chaotic in how it was told. That being said it gets better as it goes along and the way it was wrapped up at the end really got me thinking. I think the story and characters are secondary to the information being presented but it needed them to make it a better read. The main point in this book is that we can live better with less government and we should be more self-sufficient. It also presents the idea that people and businesses can do a better job of regulating themselves then the government can. One of my favorite things about Free Dakota is how it was written. William Irwin is a Philosophy professor and has written several books on Philosophy including The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism. I read this book and some of it I understood and some of it went over my head. While that was a non-fiction book, this one is a fictional novel but it includes ideas on being libertarian and having less government which are real. I loved listening to the ideas presented and I loved how the characters in the story defend their points of view on society. In Reading this book I felt that if these ideas were presented in a non fiction book I wouldn’t have been as interested and probably wouldn’t have understood it as well. Since the information William Irwin has presented is in the form of a novel I understood it and enjoyed it. ~ David Watson,

Free Dakota is both an entertaining and informative read. Simply put, it explains basic tenets of Libertarianism within the context of an engaging narrative that makes it very easy to understand. The author skillfully weaves complex thoughts and ideas into the flow of an interesting story filled with a host of colorful characters, each representative of people in today’s times. I find politics in our country so ironic: we are a nation that prides itself on diversity, melting pot, respecting different cultures, etc., yet we are supposed to be pigeon holed into two political parties? The time has come for at least one of if not more viewpoints to be taken seriously. Free Dakota presents the Libertarian one in a clear manner that is neither boring nor preachy. It is a story that reads for pleasure, yet it makes one think about some really serious concepts without feeling like they studied a textbook. ~ Keith Goggin, Amazon

"It was fun to read it, and contemplate it, and wish for it." Kirkpatrick Sale, Director of the Middlebury Institute ~ Kirkpatrick Sale, Director of the Middleburg Institute

If you don't think a blogger and a fry cook can start a revolution, you have to read this book. Irwin's story will convince you that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when liberty is at stake. Free Dakota creates a world you'll want to revisit. For my part, I'd like to order up a burger and coffee at Mackey's Diner, and tell an ex-prostitute my plans for changing the world. ~ Eric Bronson, author of King of Rags

William Irwin has accomplished something remarkable. He has written a novel of ideas that is at the same time a gripping story. The ideas he writes about are of fundamental importance: the regulatory state that attempts to control our lives and efforts by libertarians and secessionists to resist these assaults on our liberties. Readers will find shocking the extent to which the government, especially the military, will go to suppress dissent. I highly recommend this book. It shows, in exemplary fashion, how philosophical issues have a direct impact on our lives. ~ David Gordon, Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute

A novel of ideas is a rare treat, and a novel of libertarian ideas is even rarer. But that’s what William Irwin delivers in Free Dakota. The story seems ripped from today’s headlines, as he chronicles a group of libertarians on a quest to secede peacefully from the United States. Who would have expected to find a Socratic dialogue about libertarianism set in a North Dakota diner? As a political thriller, Free Dakota is a real page-turner, but every other page, you’ll want to pause and think about the serious issues Irwin raises. ~ Paul A. Cantor, Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English, University of Virginia and author of The Invisible Hand in Popular Culture: Liberty vs. A

William Irwin
William Irwin William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College (Pennsylvania) and is the auth...
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