As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.
Gingrich’s 1994 novel, 1945, presents a provocative alternative history in which Hitler invaded eastern Tennessee at the end of World War II. Most news accounts of the book didn’t get that far, though. Instead, they focused on the sex scene in the novel’s opening pages. But as Charlie Homans reports, that’s really not Newt’s fault; blame one of his co-authors, Jim Baen:
Baen’s eagerness to secure a large audience for 1945, [Gingrich friend David] Drake believes, was to blame for the Nazi Sex Kitten Incident. Dissatisfied with the first draft that Gingrich’s new co-author, William Forstchen, turned in, Baen began rewriting much of the novel himself—including an opening scene in which a Nazi spy, posing as a Swedish journalist, seduces the American president’s chief of staff in an effort to pry loose nuclear secrets. “Suddenly, the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress,” he wrote. “She rolled onto him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. ‘Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things.'” Convinced the scene was the book’s strongest selling-point, Baen circulated an excerpt to political reporters and Hollywood producers.
The book, unsurprisingly, was a flop. As Homans notes, “When the speaker appeared at the Chicago Book Fair to promote To Renew America, Baen was reduced to handing out free copies of the novel to anti-Gingrich protesters outside, who tore the books to pieces on television.”