Newt and Callista Gingrich sign their latest books in Naperville
By David Sharos For the Naperville Sun February 20, 2013 10:14PM
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks to attendees at a book signing at Anderson's Bookshop on Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Gingrinch and his wife, Callista, were in Naperville to sign copies of their books, "Victory at Yorktown" and "Land of the Pilgrim's Pride." | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Gingrich talks about writing, love of history
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared with his wife Callista Wednesday at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville to talk about his latest historical work, “Victory at Yorktown.” Before the book signing, Gingrich spoke with The Sun about his latest novel and offered a brief perspective about the life he is living now.
Q: So how many books does this make for you?
A: “There are 24 books at this point.”
Q: Why are you so interested in historical things? What led you to that?
A: “Well, I’m really passionate about getting America — younger Americans especially — to understand that history can be interesting and exciting and I think fiction is a great way to get them engaged. And of course Callista now has launched this children’s series in which Ellis the Elephant introduces 4- to 8-year-olds to American history and we just think that at a time when too many people don’t value history — this is a great way to get them involved.”
Q: What do you hope people get out of this book?
A: “Well, a couple of things. I’m doing a class Friday at Mt. Vernon on George Washington and I think Washington is the foundation on which all of us stand. And I think his dedication, his courage, and I think his strategic insights — when you read the three volumes we’ve done on Washington, you begin to realize what this eight-year period — he’s only home two weeks out of 8 years — he outlasts the entire British empire; he outlasts his critics in the Congress; he outlasts people who were maneuvering against him in the army; and he does it with dignity and honor in a way that sets the stage. And so I hope people will read these books and say, you know, whatever our current problems are, we’ve been through a lot worse. We’re going to get it, we’ll make it. America will rebound, and we’ll rebound hopefully in the tradition of people like Washington who believed in freedom.”
Q: What do you enjoying most now that you’re out of politics?
A: “I love learning and I love teaching. I was at the University of Chicago yesterday with a paleontologist named Luo who is a specialist in early mammals and we had a great hour and a half together. I love to teach and I love to learn. And you actually have to learn before you can teach. I’m having the time of my life.”
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:17AM
Fans of author events held monthly at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville got a rare double feature Wednesday night as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, 69, and his wife Callista signed copies of new books each has authored.
Both books have connections with U.S. history as Mrs. Gingrich offered her children’s book, “Land of the Pilgrim’s Pride” — which continues the adventures of Ellis the Elephant, first introduced in her New York Times bestseller, “Sweet Land of Liberty.” The former speaker produced a historical novel, “Victory at Yorktown.”
The Gingrich couple arrived about 25 minutes late to a crowd of nearly a hundred fans.
Greg Tapis of Davenport, Iowa, said he had come to Chicago earlier in the day to deal with immigration matters and then drove out to Naperville.
“I heard about Newt’s appearance on Facebook and wanted to come, as I was a precinct captain for him back in Iowa,” Tapis said. “I liked his ‘non-establishment’ grass-roots campaign that was run a lot more cheaply and I love to read his books. I’m not normally a fiction person, but I can tell he has a true love of history.”
T.J. Nacker and his wife Maura from New Lenox said they each enjoyed history. T.J. said he enjoys collecting books.
“I guess this is kind of a hobby, but there’s also a certain ‘star quality’ about seeing Mr. Gingrich, given that he was such a high ranking official in government,” he said.
Maura described the former speaker as “a real interesting man” and that she was raised in a sort of historical family.
“My dad wound up giving us a 20-volume encyclopedia all about World War II,” she said. “My father really had a fascination with history and I guess I’ve inherited it, even though I know a lot of women probably don’t read these kinds of books.”
St. Charles resident Roland Lesniewski said he appreciated Gingrich’s “political philosophy.”
“I saw him on TV just the other day and I have to say I like his politics,” Lesniewski said. “I felt like he conducted himself well back during the debates and I really enjoy reading historical fiction.”
Some couples, such as Naperville’s Diane and Pete Scardigno bought each of the authors’ books and said they were drawn to them for different reasons.
“I like children’s books and I’m going to give this as a gift to someone who lives in Virginia,” Diane said. “I think the way Callista handled her subject matter, it was a nice way to present the colonies.”
Pete Scardigno said he and his wife actually met the Gingrich couple at a party a few years ago. Pete said he enjoyed Gingrich’s technique of writing “alternative history.”
“He likes to take historical events like wars, and even though they end up the same way in the book as they did in history, he puts a different spin on things,” Pete Scardigno said. “I think it’s an interesting way to write.”
Tapis added that he believes history is still relevant today despite living in a high-tech world.
“I think the framers of our constitution planned for this,” he said. “Of course they didn’t know about the Internet and email, but the concepts of freedom of speech and the fact that we were endowed by our creator with certain rights hasn’t changed.”