With considerable political savvy, Mr. Scaevola projects his story into the very near future and allows a detached Times reporter to accompany a Presidential candidate as speechwriter during a national campaign. The candidate, Billy Reason (""DOWN WITH TREASON! WE WANT REASON!""), campaigns on a spy-waving, racist, anti-Semitic platform which also includes Russophobia and he plays mainly on voters' fears. He also wants to form a Freedom Legion with which, benevolently, he can invade Mexico, liberate Cuba, and get tough with Communists, particularly Red China. Though it features three assassination attempts, the plot is less story than political analysis of domestic and foreign affairs and often reads like a novelized The Making of a President. The real subject is campaign strategy in garnering electoral votes in a frightened U.S. Reason, an admitted megalomaniac, builds and then trades on national hysteria, inadvertently forcing Khrushchev to arm Red. China with the bomb. When the Times man finally bolts from Reason's entourage and attempts to unmask him, it is too late. Reason (he's much the opposite) is elected and the country is left to face a destiny of fear and prejudice. Consistently, interesting, the novel casually includes the Kennedy assassination and Lee Harvey swald, but fails to mention whatever happened to Jack Ruby. But Knebel & Bailey's Convention (Harper & Row- p. 17) will be the obvious front runner.