The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, Steven’s second political thriller

With Donald Trump still campaigning erratically as usual, #NeverTrump still holds onto an outside hope that the delegates could be unbound and the convention next week contested. Whatever happens, it will certainly not be as exciting as the fictional Republican National Convention in Stuart Stevens’ new novel The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear.

The novel takes place in a country eerily similar to the United States of the past eight years, with an exaggerated version of the 2008 financial crisis and fears of civil unrest and terrorism, featuring a primary contest between a wonkier version of a Donald Trump or Tom Tancredo character and a “higher energy” version of a John Kasich or Susan Collins character. Campaign manager J.D. Callahan, whose features seem to based somewhat on those of Stevens himself, has a few days to secure the nomination for his client, Hilda Smith, the Collins-esque northeastern moderate, while withstanding temptations and family pressures in the hometown he fled from, New Orleans.

In The Innocent Have Nothing to Fear, Stevens imagines what a convention that took place during a small-scale terrorist insurgency might look like. He also portrays some of the “rat-fucking” tactics and dirty tricks political strategists might play on each other during the ordinary course of a hard fought campaign. Much is made of the identity of the political strategist; as one who is hired to help a candidate win at all costs, what of personal standards and values?

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