King of the Mississippi
A biting, hilarious literary satire of war, business, and contemporary masculinity, set in the cutthroat-but-ridiculous world of management consultingKing of the Mississippi is an incisive, uproarious dissection of contemporary male vanity and delusion, centered around a "war" for dominance of a prestigious Houston consulting firm. On one side of the conflict is Brock Wharton, an old money ex-jock whose delight in telling clients to downsize is matched only by his firm conviction that people like himself deserve to run the world. On the other is Mike Fink, a newly hired wily former soldier trying to ride his veteran status to the top of a corporate world that lionizes "the troops" without truly understanding them. Brock and Mike are mortal enemies on sight, bitterly divided not only by background and class but by diametrically opposed (yet equally delusional) visions of what it means to "be a man." And as their escalating conflict spirals out of control, it will take them all the way from the hidebound boardrooms and gladiatorial football fields of Texas to the vapid and self-serving upper echelon of Silicon Valley, to the corporatized battlefield of Iraq, all the while serving as a ruthlessly funny takedown of the vacuity and empty machismo of corporate life and alpha-male culture in modern America. Devastatingly witty, unapologetically scathing, and ultimately surprisingly moving, King of the Mississippi marks the arrival of a unique and scintillating new voice in American fiction, one that boldly punctures the myths of American manhood like no one has since the heyday of Tom Wolfe and Bret Easton Ellis.

King of the Mississippi Details

TitleKing of the Mississippi
Author
ReleaseJul 9th, 2019
PublisherHogarth Press
ISBN-139780525573784
Rating
GenreFiction, Humor

King of the Mississippi Review

  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    Like a big blue catfish packed to the gills with schadenfreude and hyper-masculinity, King of the Mississippi is a savagely raucous novel in which no one is safe from a comic skewering. Along with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, it will stand the test of time as one of the best satires of the War on Terror. From Special Forces gunslingers, to high society wives, to Fortune 500 consultants, to the Bayou City where they mix, mingle, and occasionally do battle, Freedman writes with great verve and Like a big blue catfish packed to the gills with schadenfreude and hyper-masculinity, King of the Mississippi is a savagely raucous novel in which no one is safe from a comic skewering. Along with Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, it will stand the test of time as one of the best satires of the War on Terror. From Special Forces gunslingers, to high society wives, to Fortune 500 consultants, to the Bayou City where they mix, mingle, and occasionally do battle, Freedman writes with great verve and authority on the failings of military and corporate cultures alike.
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  • George Witte
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this novel, wickedly funny and smart and fearless, a mano-a-mano battle for supremacy in the corporate world with an unforgettable dueling duo of men from very different backgrounds, and a powerful undercurrent that tunnels into masculinity, the marketing of heroism, the compromises of ambition, and much more. Last book I enjoyed this much: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
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  • Kristin Lyders Fitzmorris
    January 1, 1970
    If you are a management consultant or ever hired one…you gotta read this book.If you are in Special Forces or part of the DoD apparatus…you gotta read this book. If you are a male of above average intelligence…you gotta read this book. Ladies, if you can stomach the first couple intentionally jarring chauvinistic thoughts about women as expressed by the troglodyte internal dialogue of the main character…you should read this book. It will remind you to celebrate “where we were” and “where we have If you are a management consultant or ever hired one…you gotta read this book.If you are in Special Forces or part of the DoD apparatus…you gotta read this book. If you are a male of above average intelligence…you gotta read this book. Ladies, if you can stomach the first couple intentionally jarring chauvinistic thoughts about women as expressed by the troglodyte internal dialogue of the main character…you should read this book. It will remind you to celebrate “where we were” and “where we have arrived…almost.” By design, author Mike Freedman compels readers to confront outdated crass stereotypes of feminine beauty and hyper-masculinity before shedding them all to reveal the reformed main character, Brock Wharton, at the end of his hero’s journey in this satire. Yet Freedman does not only go after sexism, but also classism, and even what it means to be “All-American” with a clever, biting style. Everyone and everything is fair game as he pokes fun at the male arch-types of the past throughout the novel, while building to a more inclusive, self-introspective, “woke” America in the epilogue.Freedman doesn’t apologize for a reader’s lack of knowledge about the subject matter—after all, what’s Google for? Not a book to be skimmed, this work offers a “No sh**, there I was” experience to readers as they are dropped deep into the heart of the soulless consulting industry. Complete with jargon and rituals, every sentence has been crafted for maximum impact. Beautifully written, the winding style requires readers to pay attention and to hang in there for the worthwhile message it delivers on privilege and income inequality.
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  • Paperback Paris
    January 1, 1970
    —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Eliza Namnoum. Read more.I love satire. From gawking at a copy of Jonathan Swift’s  A Modest Proposal one fateful day in my junior year English class to delighting in the resounding genius of Saturday Night Live sketches, I have enjoyed few literary genres with as much consistency as I have satire and its well-timed histrionics. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to review Mike Freedman’s King of the Mississippi. I mean, “an incis —The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Editor, Eliza Namnoum. Read more.I love satire. From gawking at a copy of Jonathan Swift’s  A Modest Proposal one fateful day in my junior year English class to delighting in the resounding genius of Saturday Night Live sketches, I have enjoyed few literary genres with as much consistency as I have satire and its well-timed histrionics. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to review Mike Freedman’s King of the Mississippi. I mean, “an incisive, uproarious dissection of contemporary male vanity and delusion, centered around a ‘war’ for dominance of a prestigious Houston consulting firm?” Sign me up! Upon delving into the novel, however, I found it to be more of a struggle than a romp.Few things mystify me more than the world of financial consulting, and I had hoped Freedman would offer insight on its intricacies — not so. It quickly became clear that this novel’s intended audience was someone with a background in the field and familiarity with a staggering array of acronyms and technical terms, not an English major who can barely determine what she wants for lunch. I found myself returning to one particular question again and again: What is at stake here? What, in setting a pedigreed consultant against a rogue veteran climbing the ranks of the firm with ease, does Freedman seek to spell out for us? That we construct our own hierarchies? That directness and skill can beat out degrees from elite institutions and sparkling family names? That, in the end, white-collar and blue-collar can come together against a perceived common evil: aggressively swoopy hair and a firm exploiting war in the Middle East for personal profit? Maybe all of these morals lie at the core of Freedman’s work, and maybe none of them do. I’m almost certain the crux of the satire would appear with much better clarity if I had a background in consulting, but as a mere layperson, I can’t say that King of the Mississippi addressed any particularly salient issue. Again, perhaps I am not the novel’s intended audience.Layperson or not, I can certainly identify a wordsmith when I see one. Freedman is unmistakably that, with luridly malicious descriptions of the primary character’s rival, the self-titled King of the Mississippi: “A smile the size of the intruder’s face tore through the puffy lips and exposed a series of swollen red gums that congregated around two monstrous white tusks for front teeth, which, if not fake, the hospital-white fangs had avoided the yellow staining of the other teeth and clearly swam in their own current in the man’s mouth.”There's also something to be said of the biting self-awareness that undergirds this book, given that the rival character shares both the first name and former profession as the author himself. Such Shakespearean deftness with language fails to mitigate the overarching problem, though; for a non-consultant, it’s difficult to confidently identify what that overarching problem is. As I closed the novel, I felt less like I had spent 256 pages frolicking in the Bayou and more like I had been floundering in it.
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  • Carlee
    January 1, 1970
    I don't think I was the target audience of this book, and overall did not find the satire particularly funny or clever. I would have liked to see more female characters in general. We only saw the female characters through the eyes of Brock Wharton, and none of them really stood on their own. I also don't quite know who the target audience of this book should be. I'm sure it was a good book for someone, just not me. Although I did laugh when Mike hijacked the Dr. Pepper meeting, and the small di I don't think I was the target audience of this book, and overall did not find the satire particularly funny or clever. I would have liked to see more female characters in general. We only saw the female characters through the eyes of Brock Wharton, and none of them really stood on their own. I also don't quite know who the target audience of this book should be. I'm sure it was a good book for someone, just not me. Although I did laugh when Mike hijacked the Dr. Pepper meeting, and the small digs about Houston (Houston local, here).In general, I just think satire is so hard to nail. I'm not convinced that this book is doing something new or fresh.
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  • John Deardurff
    January 1, 1970
    A satire of working in a management consulting firm has our two main characters battle for office supremacy. On one side is upper-class ex-jock, Brock Wharton who finds his realm being ambushed by the low-class veteran, Mike Fink. I wanted to enjoy the book, and I am sure there is an audience who will enjoy it. I found the writing dense and difficult to decipher who was actually talking through most of the book. It was also difficult to stay in the narcissistic mind of Brock Wharton for very lon A satire of working in a management consulting firm has our two main characters battle for office supremacy. On one side is upper-class ex-jock, Brock Wharton who finds his realm being ambushed by the low-class veteran, Mike Fink. I wanted to enjoy the book, and I am sure there is an audience who will enjoy it. I found the writing dense and difficult to decipher who was actually talking through most of the book. It was also difficult to stay in the narcissistic mind of Brock Wharton for very long.
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  • Louis
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the cynicism and humor, and I thought part 1 and 2 worked nicely but part 3 took a left turn into a more serious tone. It felt disjointed from the first two-thirds of the book and I began to lose interest and wondered where the story was going. But overall an enjoyable read.
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