There are no sex scenes in Newt Gingrich's latest novel, The Battle of the Crater. This is for the best. It's not because Gingrich is squeamish about the subject: In his 1995 beach read, 1945, the Germans invade Tennessee and a Nazi "kitten" seduces a White House aide. But a novel about a Civil War battle that turned into a racial massacre is a terribly awkward place for lovemaking, and, anyway, the former House speaker and current front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination has enough trouble getting his history right.
Gingrich has risen in the polls over the past four weeks while maintaining the traveling salesman routine that had previously made him a punch line. Since entering the race in May, he has released a new documentary about American exceptionalism, hawked DVDs about Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and toured the country to promote his wife's children's book about a time-traveling elephant. Now, on top of all of that, he has published Crater, his 26th book and the ninth coauthored with William R. Forstchen, a faculty fellow at Montreat College in North Carolina.
The Battle of the Crater explores the 1864 battle of the same name outside Petersburg, Virginia, in which Gen. Ambrose Burnside tried to break through Rebel lines by building a tunnel under the Confederates' position and filling it with explosives. That part worked, somehow, but the subsequent assault was an epic disaster, ending with Union forces trapped inside the 30-foot-deep crater as mortars rained in. At a critical point in the fight, the Yankees sent in a division of black soldiers; after they were pushed back, the Confederates ignored pleas for surrender and started killing blacks indiscriminately. America was the loser.Read the full article