cover image The Americans Are Coming!

The Americans Are Coming!

Alex Beam / Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0

Gorbachev is retired and in Monaco, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the U.S. president, World War III was an abortive 20-minute Russian missile attack with no casualties, and American forces now occupy the Soviet Union. To teach the Russians that capitalism works, sexually frustrated CIA bureaucrat Martin Teasdale, along with his cold wife, Marilyn, is sent to Uglich, a godforsaken town on the Volga, where he runs Operation Facelift. Moments of inspired lunacy and pointed political wit spike Beam's ( Fellow Travelers ) wacky satirical novel. Some of the humor seems forced, however, and most of the Russians are caricatures, e.g., the corrupt local Party boss; a beret-wearing communist guerrilla who calls for the overthrow of U.S. rule; a debonair KGB technocrat whom Marilyn lusts after. As the U.S. forces introduce free elections, anti-wrinkle cream and hamburger-dispensing machines, this punchy parable raises weighty questions about the limits to the Americanization of the U.S.S.R.--or of any other country. (July)