John DeVore: Newt Gingrich Is an Author of Alternative Histories. What If He Wrote an Alternative History of Himself?
John DeVore is a writer living in New York City.
Before he was the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich had gained acclaim as the author of a number of “alternate histories,” a genre of literature that speculates how important events in the past might have turned out differently. A high-brow genre this is not. One could say that “alternate history” is to “history” what “science-fiction” is to actual “science.”
Gingrich’s fans laud the research that goes into his tomes, but what they are really responding to are the feverish scenarios he conjures: Here’s Robert E. Lee winning the Battle of Gettysburg; there’s a victorious Nazi Germany imposing its will on post-World War II Europe. This is less the product of scholarship than it is a clown’s birthday party trick: Newt reaches into his bag of history, grasps an inflated moment of history, twists it into an amusing shape, and Voila!
But one wonders why this formidable conservative intellectual stopped at just the Civil War and World War II. Gingrich should focus his prodigious alternative-historical talents on one of the most consequential world-historical figures of our time: Newt Gingrich himself. Here are some suggestions for a series of “alternate autobiographies” that Gingrich may want to consider penning, both to indulge his own fantasies, and to earn some cash for the next Tiffany’s run. (Newt, if you’re reading: I’m available for ghostwriting.)...
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