God, guns and country

Author has plenty of ammo for trilogy on second civil war


Plymouth Review

Sue Mroz

The Plymouth Review

June 22, 2004


Although Bob Clouston, president and chief customer officer of Sargento Foods Inc., devotes his working hours to cheese-related business endeavors, he has led a second life for the past three years.


From 4-7 a.m. each morning and for about 15 hours each weekend, he was in touch with his creative side, as he wrote the first two volumes of what is to become a trilogy - a novel titled "Where Freedom Reigns." The two books, available in both paperback and hardcover, are now on sale.


"People take up arms over taking up arms," he said of the books' ironic plot.


Volume one, subtitled "A Great Thunder from the Mountain," contains 653 pages and volume two, "The Wrath of God" 617 pages. He is now working on the third volume, subtitled "Children of the Morning Star."


Born in Montreal, Canada, Clouston who has both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, considers his novel a labor of love. "I never once had writer's block," he said. "The book flowed from me. Something else guided the story. I love the six main characters. They became part of my life."


He dedicated volume one to his wife Geri and volume two to his adult children - Shannon, Matthew and Christian Clouston and Allison Signorelli. Volume three will be dedicated to his parents Brenda and Ross Clouston.


His sweeping epic is a story of love and war - the love of a father for two sons; a nation for two freedoms; and of the (second) civil war, that without the intercession of God, would have destroyed them all.


"The central theme is good versus evil through gun control," Clouston explained. "I have always been fascinated with the struggle between good vs. evil, for example as expressed in the Book of Revelation in the Bible between Christ and Satan.


"And, since gun control is a hot topic these days, it is a timely topic to tie in with good versus evil."


His novel is set in 2018, seven years after the successful end of an American-led world war on terrorism. But the nation is now faced with an even more horrible prospect - a war against an enemy it can't defeat - itself.


In the face of impending war, Jeremiah Kincaid, 59, the Republican speaker of the House, struggles to mediate a growing firestorm of public debate over gun control. On the left is Alexander Webster, 49, the Democratic president, who decides to make the elimination of guns from America his legacy.


On the right is Edward Morrissey, 61, the Republican governor of Idaho, who bitterly opposes the President's position.


A sequence of events, including the militia seizing a gun club built on federal land in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, eventually leads to a civil war. First, Idaho secedes from the Union, followed by six other western states, to form the Continental States of America, with Morrissey as its president.


Eventually, Webster is left with no choice but to declare war on the new Confederacy. The ensuing war lasts seven days and involves the loss of over 100,000 soldiers.


Another feature of Clouston's novel is the love story within the main plot. As the country falls apart around her, Sarah McGill, 34, a rising television star, finds herself falling in love with two men - an Army officer, Jake Kincaid, son of the speaker of the House, and the enigmatic Thomas Porter. This love triangle is complicated by the fact that Jake and Thomas are long-lost brothers.


Jennifer Mathis, a representative of Author House, the Indiana-based publisher of Clouston's books, gave the following testimonial of "Where Freedom Reigns." "What makes this novel so powerful and compelling is its unashamed spirituality," she wrote on the book jackets.


"Regardless of the reader's religious beliefs, all who read it will find themselves either reassured by their faith in God, or questioning their lack of it. Clouston's spellbinding narrative skillfully weaves together the colossal forces of good and evil, patriotism and treason, and archangels and battle tanks.


"Over its two volumes, it challenges the mind, touches the heart and liberates the soul. It is the perfect story for our time."


The new author pointed out that his novel has a strong Wisconsin connection. For instance, Jeremiah Kincaid, the speaker of the House in his novel, represents the Kettle Moraine district of Wisconsin.


Also, Clouston belongs to Saron United Church of Christ in Sheboygan Falls. The pastors are a husband and wife team, Jim Martin and Jenny Dawson. Clouston based the name of a pastor in his novel after the combined first names of his two pastors - Rev. James Jenny.


The most challenging aspect of his endeavor was the editing. He had several people assisting him with the mechanics. Among them were his wife; his son Matthew, an actor who played a small role in the movie "Pearl Harbor;" his daughter Shannon, who has a master's degree in journalism and Barb Gannon, Sargento's vice president of communications.


His novel is on sale locally at Book Heads in Plymouth and on the Internet at amazon.com, bn.com, borders.com, and authorhouse.com. Also he is available for book signings or talks about his novel, upon invitation. 


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