Ripped from the Headlines: Newt Gingrich's New Novel

Duplicity, the newest novel by former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley, has a highly plausible plot that mixes domestic and global action.  Readers will be reminded of the Benghazi-style attack on the U.S. embassy, along with political deception, radical Islamic terrorists, and ruthless D.C. staffers who scheme to manipulate the electorate during the presidential election.  American Thinker interviewed the former speaker about how his book mirrors today's events.

The plot has the current president, Sally Allworth, deciding to take a tough stand on terrorism to gain votes by opening an American embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia.  While the history and background in the area are provided, this does not slow down the action, but actually enhances the story.  The authors do not take the politically correct course, as they depict the terrorists' violent actions of decapitations, torture, and dismemberment.  Allworth's opponent, Governor Timothy Coolidge, challenges that she is playing politics with American lives, especially after the embassy is attacked and hostages are taken.  This leaves CIA station chief Gunther Conner and Marine Captain Brooke Grant, the military attaché, to plan a rescue.

Throughout the book, the story shows how each main character's agenda affects the circumstances: Connor wanting to prove that the different terrorist groups are actually headed by one person; Grant attempting to coordinate with the U.S. military to attempt a rescue; Governor Coolidge using the incident to cement his isolationist views; and President Allworth and her administration attempting to manipulate the event by going into damage control.

Gingrich explained he got the idea for the story from headlines, as terrorism has become "a worldwide phenomenon and much more purposeful and technologically advanced than we give it credit for.  One of the key terrorists in our novel is an American who has rejected Western civilization in favor of the radical Islamist effort to impose an alternative system of belief by force and terror tactics.  One of the reasons I agreed to do contemporary modern history is to show the gap between the elite denial of reality and what is happening in the worldwide war with Islamic supremacists.  I used the genre of a novel because it is the most effective way to tell a story."

Conservatives will have mixed feelings about President Allworth.  Although she appears to be tough on terrorism, it becomes obvious she is a political animal who is "un-Truman-like" in her actions, not fully taking responsibility or displaying leadership.  Gingrich wants to show how some in Allworth's administration are similar to many Democrats, who live in a fantasy world because "they have a desperate desire to avoid conflict, which is probably psychological.  There is an ideological worldview going back in some ways to the anti-colonial West.  It assumes everyone would like to live in a democracy if only the U.S. is not a bad country.  This ended up in a fantasy about the Arab Spring.  I used to tell people I can guarantee a genuine democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we would not be there a day longer than we are in Korea, which is now over sixty-five years."

Conner is seen as someone with personal insight into the subject of terrorism but who is constantly ignored.  Gingrich strongly believes that Americans have to understand that "throughout history, there has been the existence of people willing to do evil to impose their values, whether Adolf Hitler or ISIS.  These people have to be stopped and cannot be talked with.  Neville Chamberlain was not a traitor in appeasing Hitler; he was just wrong.  I have written about the premise that some think the world is dangerous, yet it is better to survive the danger than eliminate it.  This it the attitude with gun-free zones, which by definition is irrational.  It says to the evil, Why, come here!  We are defenseless.  Yet it ignores that in a world of evil, there is no way to block it just by putting up a yard sign."

Gingrich understood why Americans are fed up with Washington insiders and gets this point across with Mallory Harper, the president's chief of staff.  Her entire focus is on getting her boss re-elected, not on the nation's security.  She is influenced by the polls, not by what is best for the country.  Gingrich told American Thinker, "Politicians come under enormous pressure to subordinate national security to political considerations.  Duplicity is dedicated in part to the idea that national security is a matter of life and death for the country and for individuals.  We need a much higher standard of dealing with the safety of the American people than some of our real-life officials have met.  I believe this is partly why Republicans and independents are gravitating towards non-establishment candidates and are so fed up with Washington, which is the simple explanation for the success of Cruz and Trump.  Substantial numbers see the risk of a Trump less than the risk of the current system.  As I show in the book, no one can manage and reform the current system that has a coalition of bureaucracy, lobbyists, the news media, and the left.  The focus has to be on a genuine change agent.  Any candidate who breaks through will have an anti-Washington message."

Gingrich is hoping that people who read only nonfiction will read Duplicity, because the "world is genuinely dangerous.  This danger is coming here, and we need to hold our public officials accountable.  Just as in the book, world events will have an impact on the 2016 presidential election in a way we cannot anticipate right now."  Anyone looking for a well-paced novel with excellent characters and a story ripped from the headlines should read this book.

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.