Rothstein draws on his experience as a political strategist and media manager to craft a political thriller of epic scale

5/5
5/5
5/5

Finalist for Political Thriller of the Year

--Pacific Reviews

best political thriller novels

“Joe Rothstein’s The Salvation Project is fashioned as a novel that conjures positive memories of great political thrillers of the past such as Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate or Steven King’s The Dead Zone. Far from simply imitating those books however, Rothstein takes high stakes political espionage to a very contemporary, credibly scary, and absolutely addictive level with his opus, The Salvation Project.”
–Pacific Reviews

“Be forewarned: there’s a lot of juicy action to digest here…and just when it seems like a tidy ending will evolve, yet another unexpected twist emerges.”
Midwest Reviews

“The intricacies of the Project—are unusual and memorable.”
–BookLife by Publishers Weekly

Readers Agree

“Strong sequel to Tenny’s story.”

“Plot twists are amazing.”

“Pace is dizzying.”

“I see film rights.”

“This is literature first, thriller second.”

“Rothstein captures very complex concepts and presents them in an action-packed page-turner.”

“A delicious encore to Latina President.”

“This book offered a lot of pleasure the way a classic novel can.”

“It’s not just a keep-you-up-at-night thriller, it’s deep insight to our contemporary world.”

“More than enough shots from left field to keep me hooked!”

“Love the worldwide conspiracy, the Vatican and the Israelis. What a mix!”

“Picks up neatly from Latina, very sophisticated take on business as well as politics, intriguing plot.”

“I enjoyed reading about strong women who also help each other and encourage growth in others.”

“I felt as though I was a part of the action!”

“I could apply ‘thought provoking’ to so much of the book, that I’m not satisfied with one-time reading.”

“I love the pace, a lot going on but not so much that it is hard to track.”

 

Why I Write

(Interview with Joe Rothstein, Washington Independent Review of Books)

Given our current political climate, it’s hard to imagine writing DC-themed fiction that’s stranger than truth, but Joe Rothstein has done just that in his new novel, The Moment of Menace: The Future Looks Glorious…Unless We All Die First. Rothstein, whose long career spans both politics and literature, braids the two worlds together in a riveting story that gives readers a glimpse of what our democracy could become — for better or worse.   

Your deep knowledge of politics comes through in this book. Is it challenging writing fictional stories about a very real system?

Think about what it means to be a candidate. Depending on the political office at stake, you will need to raise considerable campaign money, much of it by personally asking friends, family, co-workers, strangers. In a real sense, you will have to learn to beg. You will have to hire a professional staff and recruit dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands of volunteers, a hugely difficult exercise in high-pressure management. You will need to appear in public every day, sometimes in the media, weighing every word lest it be misinterpreted, often purposely, by the opposition.

Tension will increase as Election Day approaches, whether the polls have you ahead or behind. The money won’t be enough. The attacks on your character will increase, all in public media. Your family will feel under siege. You will get conflicting advice. Every day, you will need to make decisions, any one of which could cause you to win or lose the election. This is stuff of high drama, and I lived it through more than 200 campaigns. Marriages were…destroyed, so were reputations, wealth, hopes, and dreams. I don’t need to use my imagination to develop characters and situations. I just need to remember.

Your novel follows a charismatic American president named Isabel Aragon Tennyson. How did you shape this character? 

During my campaign career, I met many strong, capable, and courageous women: candidates, spouses, campaign leaders, and others. We’ve never elected a woman president. I decided that I would, and that she would be a composite of many women I met who would have made great real-life presidents.

This book is as much a dystopian novel as a thriller. Do you find it difficult to approach the dystopia genre without being overly pessimistic?

I’m a democrat with both a small and capital D. But democracy is struggling to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century. And because democracy is underperforming, anti-democratic forces are presenting a serious challenge. It’s essential to recognize and meet this challenge. So, I write not as a purveyor of doom but rather with a call to action. Rather than write essays about this, I’ve chosen to write entertaining thrillers and wrap them around real public problems.

What does waiting to write until you’ve gained some life experience bring to the resulting work?

Perspective. The curved edges of “good” and “evil” and “right” and “wrong.” Living through chapters of life to see many of them resolve, gaining insight from experience.

What’s next for you?

One of my summer-vacation jobs in college was with an automobile stunt show, sort of a car circus of smashed cars, daredevil motorcyclists, and a finale with a car and driver being shot out of a cannon. We traveled the country as the Motor Olympics. I was “Suicide Saunders.” That’s my next book.

Welcome to my corner of the Internet. It’s where I talk about my novels and about current events. I have a lot to discuss.

 

I sat down to write my first book when I was in my 20s. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could not write a book because I had nothing useful to say. I’d have to live my life first. Among other things, between then and now:

 

–I was the advance man for a traveling automobile stunt show. In the act I was “Suicide Saunders.” (That’s my next book). 

 

–I sat, as an aide to the governor of Alaska, in the private quarters of the top military commander in Alaska, while he clutched a red telephone expecting a call telling him we were at nuclear war with Russia over the Cuban missile crisis. 

 

–I experienced the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history, in Alaska, and worked on rebuilding in the aftermath.

 

–I became editor of a daily newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, before I was 30.

 

–I flew as a passenger with the Navy’s Blue Angels (and have the photo to prove it).

 

—-As chief of staff of a United States Senator I was deeply involved in the Pentagon Papers episode.

 

–I was political consultant to Congressman Peter Rodino of New Jersey as he presided of Richard Nixon’s impeachment.

 

–I worked as strategist and media producer to help elect and re-elect nine U.S. Senators, dozens of members of Congress, and countless other candidates.

 

–I’ve started five businesses, one which went public, and another that’s become an important Internet news distribution service.

 

–Also, I’ve had the experience of raising four sons and, among other things, coaching their Little League baseball team, which was one of the most intense political experiences I’ve ever had.

 

And now, in my 80s, I’ve written three novels with two more in progress. Having something to say no longer is an obstacle.

 

My first three novels feature a charismatic Mexican-American heiress who becomes the president of the United States and is confronted with a series of events like none other in U.S. history.

 

I hope you enjoy them. And if my words and thoughts in these novels and my current events blogs prompt responses from you, please share them with me at jrothstein@rothstein.net.

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Want Joe’s opinion blogs delivered by email. Just give us your address here.

Finalist for Political Thriller of the Year
--Pacific Reviews

best political thriller novels

“Joe Rothstein’s The Salvation Project is fashioned as a novel that conjures positive memories of great political thrillers of the past such as Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate or Steven King’s The Dead Zone. Far from simply imitating those books however, Rothstein takes high stakes political espionage to a very contemporary, credibly scary, and absolutely addictive level with his opus, The Salvation Project.”
–Pacific Reviews

“Be forewarned: there’s a lot of juicy action to digest here…and just when it seems like a tidy ending will evolve, yet another unexpected twist emerges.”
Midwest Reviews

“The intricacies of the Project—are unusual and memorable.”
–BookLife by Publishers Weekly

Readers Agree

“Strong sequel to Tenny’s story.”

“Plot twists are amazing.”

“Pace is dizzying.”

“I see film rights.”

“This is literature first, thriller second.”

“Rothstein captures very complex concepts and presents them in an action-packed page-turner.”

“A delicious encore to Latina President.”

“This book offered a lot of pleasure the way a classic novel can.”

“It’s not just a keep-you-up-at-night thriller, it’s deep insight to our contemporary world.”

“More than enough shots from left field to keep me hooked!”

“Love the worldwide conspiracy, the Vatican and the Israelis. What a mix!”

“Picks up neatly from Latina, very sophisticated take on business as well as politics, intriguing plot.”

“I enjoyed reading about strong women who also help each other and encourage growth in others.”

“I felt as though I was a part of the action!”

“I could apply ‘thought provoking’ to so much of the book, that I’m not satisfied with one-time reading.”

“I love the pace, a lot going on but not so much that it is hard to track.”

 

Why I Write

(Interview with Joe Rothstein, Washington Independent Review of Books)

Given our current political climate, it’s hard to imagine writing DC-themed fiction that’s stranger than truth, but Joe Rothstein has done just that in his new novel, The Moment of Menace: The Future Looks Glorious…Unless We All Die First. Rothstein, whose long career spans both politics and literature, braids the two worlds together in a riveting story that gives readers a glimpse of what our democracy could become — for better or worse.   

Your deep knowledge of politics comes through in this book. Is it challenging writing fictional stories about a very real system?

Think about what it means to be a candidate. Depending on the political office at stake, you will need to raise considerable campaign money, much of it by personally asking friends, family, co-workers, strangers. In a real sense, you will have to learn to beg. You will have to hire a professional staff and recruit dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands of volunteers, a hugely difficult exercise in high-pressure management. You will need to appear in public every day, sometimes in the media, weighing every word lest it be misinterpreted, often purposely, by the opposition.

Tension will increase as Election Day approaches, whether the polls have you ahead or behind. The money won’t be enough. The attacks on your character will increase, all in public media. Your family will feel under siege. You will get conflicting advice. Every day, you will need to make decisions, any one of which could cause you to win or lose the election. This is stuff of high drama, and I lived it through more than 200 campaigns. Marriages were…destroyed, so were reputations, wealth, hopes, and dreams. I don’t need to use my imagination to develop characters and situations. I just need to remember.

Your novel follows a charismatic American president named Isabel Aragon Tennyson. How did you shape this character? 

During my campaign career, I met many strong, capable, and courageous women: candidates, spouses, campaign leaders, and others. We’ve never elected a woman president. I decided that I would, and that she would be a composite of many women I met who would have made great real-life presidents.

This book is as much a dystopian novel as a thriller. Do you find it difficult to approach the dystopia genre without being overly pessimistic?

I’m a democrat with both a small and capital D. But democracy is struggling to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st century. And because democracy is underperforming, anti-democratic forces are presenting a serious challenge. It’s essential to recognize and meet this challenge. So, I write not as a purveyor of doom but rather with a call to action. Rather than write essays about this, I’ve chosen to write entertaining thrillers and wrap them around real public problems.

What does waiting to write until you’ve gained some life experience bring to the resulting work?

Perspective. The curved edges of “good” and “evil” and “right” and “wrong.” Living through chapters of life to see many of them resolve, gaining insight from experience.

What’s next for you?

One of my summer-vacation jobs in college was with an automobile stunt show, sort of a car circus of smashed cars, daredevil motorcyclists, and a finale with a car and driver being shot out of a cannon. We traveled the country as the Motor Olympics. I was “Suicide Saunders.” That’s my next book.

Welcome to my corner of the Internet. It’s where I talk about my novels and about current events. I have a lot to discuss.

 

I sat down to write my first book when I was in my 20s. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could not write a book because I had nothing useful to say. I’d have to live my life first. Among other things, between then and now:

 

–I was the advance man for a traveling automobile stunt show. In the act I was “Suicide Saunders.” (That’s my next book). 

 

–I sat, as an aide to the governor of Alaska, in the private quarters of the top military commander in Alaska, while he clutched a red telephone expecting a call telling him we were at nuclear war with Russia over the Cuban missile crisis. 

 

–I experienced the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history, in Alaska, and worked on rebuilding in the aftermath.

 

–I became editor of a daily newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, before I was 30.

 

–I flew as a passenger with the Navy’s Blue Angels (and have the photo to prove it).

 

—-As chief of staff of a United States Senator I was deeply involved in the Pentagon Papers episode.

 

–I was political consultant to Congressman Peter Rodino of New Jersey as he presided of Richard Nixon’s impeachment.

 

–I worked as strategist and media producer to help elect and re-elect nine U.S. Senators, dozens of members of Congress, and countless other candidates.

 

–I’ve started five businesses, one which went public, and another that’s become an important Internet news distribution service.

 

–Also, I’ve had the experience of raising four sons and, among other things, coaching their Little League baseball team, which was one of the most intense political experiences I’ve ever had.

 

And now, in my 80s, I’ve written three novels with two more in progress. Having something to say no longer is an obstacle.

 

My first three novels feature a charismatic Mexican-American heiress who becomes the president of the United States and is confronted with a series of events like none other in U.S. history.

 

I hope you enjoy them. And if my words and thoughts in these novels and my current events blogs prompt responses from you, please share them with me at jrothstein@rothstein.net.

Newsletter

Want Joe’s opinion blogs delivered by email. Just give us your address here.