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The intersection of faith and history has long intrigued Rep. Chris Stewart, who has co-authored multiple bestsellers, from techno-thrillers to pseudo-theological novels. The Utah Republican was an author — an actual novelist, not a fly-by autobiographer or tell-all storyteller — before entering the House as a freshman this January. That’s why, in part, the dust jacket of his newest book, “My Story,” written with Utahn Elizabeth Smart, doesn’t mention that he’s a congressman.
It could be, too, that the story of Smart has little to do with politics. In 2002, at the age of 14, she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and held hostage for nine months by a man claiming a new religious order. Smart spent much of this time only miles from her home, sharing sparse mountainside campsites with one other woman, who also terrorized Smart. The well-publicized and headline-grabbing story instead has a great deal to do with faith, something that many in Washington can identify with.
“We all face trials,” Smart says in the 308-page book. “We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life. Yes, I could have decided to allow myself to be handicapped by what happened to me. But I decided very early that I only had one life and I wasn’t going to waste it.”
Stewart was first introduced to Smart’s father at a speaking event. When Smart decided she wanted to tell her version of the events, she read some of Stewart’s books and decided it would be an appropriate fit.
Stewart, like Smart, is Mormon and a long-time Utah resident. His other titles include “7 Tipping Points That Saved the World” and “Seven Miracles That Saved America,” both co-authored with his brother Ted.
Stewart worked with Smart for about two years on the book, interviewing her, visiting the sites near Salt Lake City where she was held and understanding her version of the events.
“When we originally started the book, and in some of the earlier drafts, we did kind of skip back and forth and give people a sense of what was happening,” Stewart told CQ Roll Call. “But we determined that it was a more powerful story and more compelling just to stay focused on Elizabeth.”