Citizen Newt by Craig Shirley
September 1, 2017
To receive Newt’s weekly newsletters, click here.
Are you tired of the bickering, fighting, and failure to produce results in Washington?
Do you want to know what it takes to implement conservative principles in the Congress and the executive branch?
Then consider reading Craig Shirley’s new book, Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative as a source of historically factual insights and principles.
Candidly, it is difficult to review a book written about yourself. In fact, it is a little embarrassing.
However, Craig Shirley is a widely respected historian of American politics, and I know from personal experience how many years he has dedicated to this project. I therefore feel I owe you serious commentary about this book – the first authorized biography of my political career.
Craig is truly a remarkable historian. His four volumes on Ronald Reagan are the definitive biography of our nation’s 40th president and a vital history of the conservative movement in the final decades of the 20th century. As someone who campaigned with candidate Reagan in the 1970s and worked with President Reagan in the 1980s, I know how insightful and accurate Craig’s books are.
His book December 1941 is an astonishingly detailed, day-by-day account chronicling America’s entry into World War II. Even as a historian who has written two novels about Pearl Harbor, I found myself learning a surprising amount of new information from Craig’s detailed account of this period in American history.
The hallmarks of all of Craig’s works are extraordinarily thorough research and biting commentary about both Democrats and Republicans.
His work on Citizen Newt is no exception.
Craig spent countless hours at The University of West Georgia extensively reviewing all of the documents filed in my archives. He interviewed countless key players and sat down with me to revisit key moments and incidents in my career.
While Craig is a friend, he is honor-bound as a serious historian to be tough-minded about the mistakes and failings of his central figures. He was tough on Reagan when he deserved it, and he is equally tough on me about some painful errors in my career.
Craig is especially tough on the establishment Republicans who undermined the Reagan-Gingrich movement (as Nancy Reagan described it in the 1990s). He is also fiercely contemptuous of the liberal reporters and writers who simply lie and make up phony stories and falsehoods to undermine, limit, or distort the history of modern conservatism.
In that way, Craig’s books are always about issues much bigger than the personalities in the title. He is a historian of the conservative movement and a loyal protector of historical fact from liberal and establishment distortions and dishonesty.
When Craig was nearly finished with Citizen Newt he sent me a copy to review. He was concerned about any factual errors but made clear he was not going to allow me to soften any of his judgments — even when they were critical of me.
My greatest reaction to reading the book was how exhaustive Craig was. He spared no detail in constructing his narrative and reliving those years of my career was exhausting for me personally. I had forgotten how many things myself, Jack Kemp, Bob Walker, the Conservative Opportunity Society House members, and our activist allies had done.
We put an end to 40 years of Democratic control of the House by earning the majority in 1994 – but it took 16 years of agonizing, unending hard work. The Contract with America was not a lucky fluke – it was the culmination of a long project that endured many missteps, frustrations, and failures before reaching its historic turning point.
If you want to understand how Reaganism was turned into a second wave of conservative innovation and change through the House of Representatives, Craig Shirley’s Citizen Newt is a must-read. Everyone who is unhappy with the current Washington process will find clues to a better strategy in this extraordinary book.
Sign up for Newt’s free weekly newsletters here: