Weekly Standard writer Andrew Ferguson read all 21 books written by Newt Gingrich. Ferguson starts with the first:
After escaping the crossroads through the window, the reader follows the first chapter of this first book as it rushes into a discussion of the sclerotic technology of the welfare state circa 1984, the lengthening American life span, the futurist Alvin Toffler, space tourism, newfangled telephones, organic farming, the exercise boom, the return of apprenticeships, the decentralization of higher education, the rise of Methodism in Britain and the Third Great Awakening in America, Disraeli’s kinky sexual arrangements before he cleaned up his act, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, historical revisionism, Idi Amin, Jimmy Carter’s bungling of the Ayatollah, the future of Gabon and his, Gingrich’s, daughter’s year off in France.
When you come up for air, you notice you’re only on Page 39, with 233 pages still to come.
In “Window of Opportunity,” Gingrich introduced himself as a futurist, a role he has played off and on throughout his career. There are problems inherent in futurism, most of them involving the future, which the futurist is obliged to predict (it’s his job) and which seldom cooperates as he would hope. Gingrich has called some and missed some. In 1984, he saw more clearly than most that computers would touch every aspect of commercial and private life, but nobody any longer wants to build “a large array of mirrors [that] could affect the earth’s climate,” warming it up so farmers could extend the growing season.
Gingrich’s faith in technology, as his books express it, is total, undimmed by potential misfirings. His artless belief in gadgetry and the power of human ingenuity, his inexhaustible curiosity and magpie gathering of unexpected facts (did you know Ray Kroc gave his autobiography the unappetizing title “Grinding It Out”?), makes his first book the most winning of them all. Even the polemics against the bureaucrats and liberals and other opponents of progress are mild compared to what we’ve got used to in the intervening decades.
“It is not their fault,” he writes empathetically. “They are simply ignorant.”
Ferguson’s reviews put Newt’s heartfelt defense of space exploration at the Republican debate into perspective: