July 15, 2004
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is coming to the West to talk about the North and South.
Gingrich will be at a Scottsdale Barnes & Noble bookstore Saturday to talk about his alternative history Civil War novel "Grant Comes East."
The book explores what might have happened if the South had been victorious at the Battle of Gettysburg.
"My greatgrandfather fought at Gettysburg, but when I was in junior high school my family moved to Georgia, so I have the luxury of being able to view the Civil War from both perspectives, North and South," said Gingrich, during a telephone interview from his home near Washington, D.C.
"Probably the part of the book that I’m proudest of is where (Gen. Robert E.) Lee decides to take Baltimore, which had a large population of free African-Americans. What would have been their reaction, knowing that if Baltimore fell, they’d become slaves?"
Reviewers have praised the book’s detail, accuracy and sense of realism in novel form.
After a political career as a member of the GOP in Congress, Gingrich is a current visiting scholar at National Defense University and the American Enterprise Institute. He gained fame in the 1980s, when he almost singlehandedly toppled House Speaker Jim Wright over Wright’s questionable dealings with a publisher.
Years later, in what many called poetic justice, Gingrich was criticized for the same kinds of ethics violations due to his own publishing advance. He paid $300,000 in fines and eventually resigned.
Gingrich admits he made errors while serving in Congress.
"I will always be proud of the ‘Contract With America,’ the agenda I spearheaded," he said. "Under my leadership, the Republicans managed to pass nine out of the 10 legislative proposals. But would I do anything differently? Certainly. I would take care not to make so many enemies!"
Gingrich is excited about his book, but admits the subject matter is rather dry compared with that of one of his political adversaries.
"If people want a real exciting read, I tell them to read Bill Clinton’s book," he said, chuckling. "It’s a lot sexier than mine. Compared to his life, my own is pretty dry."
Who: Newt Gingrich signs "Grant Comes East" When: 1 p.m. Saturday Where: Barnes & Noble, 10500 N. 90th St., Scottsdale Admission: Free Information: (480) 391-0048