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American Subversive

American Subversive

A Novel

Aidan Cole and his friends are a band of savvy—if cynical—New York journalists and bloggers, thriving at the intersection of media and celebrity. They meet at loft parties and dive bars, talking of scoops and page views, sexual adventures and new restaurants. And then, without warning, a bomb rips through a deserted midtown office tower, and Aidan’s life will never be the same.

Four days later, with no arrests and a city on edge, an anonymous e-mail arrives in Aidan’s inbox. Attached is the photograph of an attractive young white woman, along with a chilling message: “This is Paige Roderick. She’s the one responsible.”

An astonishing debut novel, American Subversive is a “genuinely thrilling thriller” ( as well as “an exploration of what motivates radicalism in an age of disillusion” (The New York Times Book Review).
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439169926 | 
  • April 2010
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American Subversive by David Goodwillie

In David Goodwillie's "powerful thriller" (Chicago Sun-Times), the lives of a young radical and a failed journalist intertwine after a bombing.

About the Author

David Goodwillie
Photograph by Candie Sanderson

David Goodwillie

David Goodwillie is the author of the novel American Subversive, a New York Times Notable Book of 2010, and the acclaimed memoir Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. He has also played professional baseball, worked as a private investigator, and was an expert at Sotheby's auction house. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lives in New York City.


Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write American Subversive?

A. I was initially interested in how my generation—now in their late twenties and thirties--was reacting (or not reacting) to a changing America.  On the one hand, our country, in the new century, is still the envy of the world—it’s only superpower, a beacon of freedom. At the same time, so many things seem headed in the wrong direction—culturally, politically, economically.  The book’s two main characters, Aidan and Paige, developed out of this dichotomy. They’re well educated and similar in age, and yet they see America, and their place in it, incredibly differently.  I wasn’t interested in liberal and conservative, rather apathy versus engagement, cynicism versus sincerity. How should the next generation act (and react) in a country flying on autopilot at a dangerous altitude?  Have we learned any lessons from the past? And can a single person still affect change in a country run by opinion polls and mass consensus?  With my two main characters staking out such extremes, I realized pretty quickly that plot would involve bringing them together, not just physically, but temperamentally. They would come to save each other--or at least try.  Once the characters and themes were established the plot came quite naturally, and the book became far more suspenseful than I ever envisioned (which is never a bad thing). It also became quite research intensive.  I’m a stickler for facts, even in my fiction, and I ended up speaking with all kinds of experts, from an FBI ordnance specialist to a former member of the Weather Underground. It was important that the book “feel” real, that the reader could envision these events actually occurring.

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