Canadian ex-pat pens epic novels about a future second American civil war
© The Canadian Press • January 23, 2005
TORONTO (CP) --It is the year 2018 and the decade-long U.S.-led war on terrorism
has been over for seven years.
But victory meant a huge cost to America's global image, following the invasion of Syria and the nuking of Pyongyang. Now Democratic President Alexander Webster has declared the elimination of guns throughout the nation as his legacy for the history books, and his administration is ramming legislation through Congress that would amend the U.S. Constitution, inflaming passions in a collection of western states. In an echo of events in the 1860s, the ultra-conservative governor of Idaho leads a secessionist movement, sparked after an initial deadly clash between federal Army Rangers and state militia sends events spiralling towards chaos.
Webster has no choice but to declare war on the new Continental States of America, whose initials -- CSA -- are all too familiar to civil war buffs. With two huge armies poised to collide in the greatest land battle on American soil since Gettysburg, the politically moderate Speaker of the House, Jeremiah Kincaid, seeks to broker a truce between the Union and the new Confederates. Naturally both leaders claim to be standing up for the principles of freedom that America represents.
But troops loyal to Idaho overrun a U.S. military base in the West and seize strategic nuclear weapons, and the rebels are prepared to use them.
"I don't think it's far-fetched at all," says Montreal-born but Wisconsin-based R.A.R. Clouston, author of Where Freedom Reigns (AuthorHouse). "All you have to do is look back to last November and the election . . . how deeply divided the nation is and how there's very little room for compromise."
While conceding an all-out civil war over a states' rights issue is not likely at present, Clouston believes an inflammatory issue like gun control could move off the back burner and divide the nation anew.
"Idaho is an extremely red state, bright red, and the current governor . . . is a strong far-right conservative. So it's not inconceivable if there were a far-left Democrat in the White House, that could happen."
Clouston's sweeping epic of future American history is filled with handsome, strong-willed heroes, stunningly beautiful women, treacherous, slimy villains, assassination plots, cataclysmic events and, of course, a star-crossed romance between a prominent TV reporter and two soldier brothers, one on each side of the looming military conflict.
Where Freedom Reigns comes in two 600-page volumes -- A Great Thunder From The Mountain and The Wrath of God -- hefty enough to stop any wayward door. And Clouston is at present working on a third, one that would take place 20 years after the events in the first two.
The former corporate CEO turned writer has retained dual citizenship and says he's proud of his Canadian heritage. In fact, as his civil war drama unfolds, Canada gets caught up, with western provinces joining the new CSA. Quebec, taking advantage of the political disarray to the south and spurred on by a meddling France, declares its independence, much to the consternation of embattled Prime Minister Jean-Jacques Beasley.
At one point, American opponents of gun control point northward, where Ottawa had already rammed a gun registry into law, allowing the RCMP to go door to door and seize all weapons in civilian hands as crime escalates significantly.
"I was a bit harsh there," Clouston concedes with a chuckle. "It's creative licence I'll hide behind there."
Clouston otherwise remains remarkably balanced in his handling of events, with treachery and nobility demonstrated on both sides. (President Webster, wielding a Clinton-like charisma, seduces his voluptuous but married attorney general in a room just off the Oval Office.)
While conceding any attempt to ban guns in America would be stupid, the author favours considerably more control than is now exercised in most states.
"People get a licence for driving a car and yet many states make no such requirement for having a rifle," he notes. "Driving under the influence, you go to jail. Going hunting under the influence, there's no law against that. A lot of hunters go out blind drunk and start shooting in the woods."
Since living in America, Clouston has been impressed with the magnitude of the bipolar extremes in the country and says many on the far right-from Idaho to Michigan to the deep South -- don't even see themselves as Americans first.
"Washington tends to be a distant sort of Big Brother looking down on them," he says.
There's also a very peculiar spiritual element to Clouston's epic, but he declines to be labelled as any kind of Christian fundamentalist. In Canada he attended a Presbyterian church, in Wisconsin, it's United Methodist.
At regular intervals in his drama, two archangels, Michael and Chadrian -- clearly representing heaven and hell -- observe the cataclysmic human drama unfolding and comment on the conflicting good and evil in humans and their chances for survival.
"I tried to get across that the basic goodness in man is what we have to have faith in," Clouston explains. "Some people have written me and said I have no right to inflict my religious views on others. And my attitude is 'just don't read the book.'"