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"The Great American Cheese War" satirical fiction pre-dates reality

"The Great American Cheese War" book cover photo
Paul Flower

There’s a novel you can read. It’s about a virus. A governor. A conspiracy involving the Michigan militia, and an attack that ended in Wisconsin. If the storyline sounds familiar, it’s a fiction published last year.

In October 2020, the FBI arrested more than a dozen members of a Michigan militia known as the “Wolverine Watchmen.” Their plan; to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and take her by boat to Wisconsin to stand trial for treason. Her crime; issuing staying-at-home orders limiting the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In the book The Great American Cheese War published in 2019…eerie parallels.

“The governor of Michigan getting caught in a conspiracy involving a highly contagious virus. The West Michigan branch of the Michigan militia and an attack that involved Wisconsin.”

Paul Flower is the author.

Paul Flower

“When it was released, of course, I had no idea that by April of this year there would be Michigan militia guys with automatic weapons in the Capitol Building surrounding the legislators as they made decisions regarding a virus and the governor. And then fast forward to now, this fall, when it was revealed there was a plot against the governor that involved the virus, the militia, a weird conspiracy and Wisconsin. So, it’s been strange to say the least.”

The Grand Rapids-based writer says The Great American Cheese War is a satire on conspiracy - that has met reality.

“When you’re writing satire, you’re hoping to write a funny book about something that’s fairly serious. And what I was trying to address was the rise of this bizarre reality we were creating with conspiracy theories, especially on the political right, that implausible ideas and implausible thought, have suddenly become mainstream. And then I combined that with, I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life and Southwest and West Michigan my whole life, and I’ve been surrounded by certain personalities and gun culture that are in some ways fine. There’s a hunting culture here. There’s an outdoorsy sense in this area, but also heavily oriented toward the Second Amendment. So, with the Michigan militia all of those things sort of came together and in the book was trying to talk about the bigger things in that context.”

Flower says he’s not a witch or a time traveler. Rather, he explains the book says a few things about how our society got to where it is today.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.