Burning Down The House, Book

Burning Down The House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall Of A Speaker, And The Rise Of The New Republican Party.

This is the story of how Newt Gingrich and his allies tainted American politics, launching an enduring era of brutal partisan warfare.

Bitterly Partisan And Ruthless Politics

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016,, President Obama observed that Trump “is not an outlier, he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Part.”

Julian Zelizer
Julian Zelizer

In Burning Down The House, historian Julian Zelizer pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path toward an era of bitterly partisan and ruthless politics, an era that was ignited by Newt Gingrich and his allies.

In 1989, Gingrich brought down Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright and catapulted himself into the national spotlight. Perhaps more than any other politician, Gingrich introduced the rhetoric and tactics that have shaped Congress and the Republican Party for the last three decades.

Elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich quickly became one of the most powerful figures in America not through innovative ideas or charisma, but through a calculated campaign of attacks against political opponents, casting himself as a savior in a fight of good versus evil.

Taking office in the post-Watergate era, he weaponized the good government reforms newly introduced to fight corruption, wielding the rules in ways that shocked the legislators who had created them. His crusade against Democrats culminated in the plot to destroy the political career of Speaker Wright.

A Path To Power

While some of Gingrich’s fellow Republicans were disturbed by the viciousness of his attacks, party leaders enjoyed his successes so much that they did little collectively to stand in his way.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich, In Congress

Democrats, for their part, were alarmed, but did not want to sink to his level and took no effective actions to stop him. It didn’t seem to matter that Gingrich’s moral conservatism was hypocritical or that his methods were brazen, his accusations of corruption permanently tarnished his opponents.

This brand of warfare worked, not as a strategy for governance, but as a path to power, and what Gingrich planted, his fellow Republicans reaped. He led them to their first majority in Congress in decades, and his legacy extends far beyond his tenure in office.

From the Contract with America to the rise of the Tea Party and the Trump presidential campaign, his fingerprints can be seen throughout some of the most divisive episodes in contemporary American politics.

Newt, Trump’s Vice President?

The former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, on the evening of July 13, 2016, he marched through the hallways of an Indianapolis television studio as he prepared to appear live on Fox News, with Sean Hannity.

The Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, was seriously considering naming Gingrich his Vice Presidential Running Mate. Gingrich loved being back in the spotlight, to him, the thrill of politics was like a narcotic.

Suddenly Gingrich had a chance to return to the heights of power he had missed since his Republican colleagues had pressured him to step down as Speaker of the House, one of the most influential positions in Washington, back in November 1998.

Flynn, Pence, Christie, and Sessions

Many experts argued that Gingrich had a pretty good chance at winning the vice presidential sweepstakes. With New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, Jeff Sessions, and of course the Indiana governor, Mike Pence.

Gingrich, while meeting with Sean Hannity, on Fox News, took the conversation of him becoming Trump’s running mate for Vice President in an unexpected direction. As much as he wanted the job, Gingrich said, he could not resist pointing out why he might not be the best selection.

On the eve of this historic decision, he (Newt) pointed Trump toward his second choice: Mike Pence. Trump would have to decide whether he wanted a “two-pirate ticket,” Gingrich said. If Trump didn’t want to run with such a like-minded person, Pence might be better as a stabilizing force. At this time, it is believed that Trump had made his decision, and he couldn’t be over-shadowed by Newt’s already popularity in the republican party.

Publishers Weekly Review

SOTH, Jim Wright
SOTH, Jim Wright

“Today’s hyper partisan politics it can be traced to Republican Congressman, Newt Gingrich, 1989 ouster of Democratic House Speaker, Jim Wright, according to this meticulously researched account. Zelizer (co-author, Fault Lines), a professor of history at Princton University, sketches Gingrich’s working-class background, frustrated career in academia, and two failed attempts to flip Georgia’s sixth district from blue to red. Victorious on his third try, Gingrich entered Congress in 1979 vowing to root out establishment corruption and win the first Republican majority since 1954…Zelizer’s witty, well-informed narrative occasionally bogs down in an excess of insider details, but successfully presents this episode as a foretaste of congressional warfare to come. Political junkies will be thrilled.”

Gingrich’s Thirst For Power

According to Zelizer’s account, Gingrich had acquired a thirst for political power by high school, announcing to a teacher that he intended to move to Georgia “to create a Republican Party.”

Trump and Gingrich
Trump and Gingrich

Even though, there was already such a party, that didn’t matter to Newt. He wasn’t in charge of it, and that was his first aim, certain as ever of the correctness of his views and the wrongness of his opponents. Gingrich learned valuable lessons in leadership style and strategy alike from Richard Nixon, whom he credits with having gone after the overlooked blue-collar (and traditionally Democratic vote), shunned by liberal/moderate wing of the GOP.

Gingrich also changed the terms of the argument from “establishment versus outsider, not liberal versus conservative.”

In Conclusion

Burning Down The House, By Julian E. Zelizer, published on April 28,2020.

Politics is war without blood, said Mao, but Newt Gingrich emerges as red in tooth and fang in this thoughtful study of his politics in action. This is a masterfully written political road-map for anyone wondering how we got to where we are today, and what a bad place that is as a nation.

If you have any questions or want to leave a comment, please do below and I will get back with you as soon as I can.

Burning Down The HouseIf you would like to purchase this eBook, from eBooks.com, please do HERE: Burning Down The House

All The Best,


EMAIL: bobbi@greatpoliticalbooks.com

4 thoughts on “Burning Down The House, Book”

  1. Hello Bobbi, I am and fan of literature and so far this is one of the most important and beautiful works I have come across n the internet and I believe Julian deserves an award for being an to think in this direction in the first place. The world of politics generally is running down a path that would make so many people grow hatred of it and so there would be no for of democracy with bad leadership emerging at the end. I really believe with such books coming from great writers, there would be change in the end.

    1. Thank you Bella for your comment, and I agree with you 100% that the hate and evil, sometimes criminal ways that our leaders are gaining power as well as maintaining power, really need to come to the fore-front of our conversations. When Donald Trump said: “I am going to drain the swamp”, he has not even come close, what he has done is create a bigger, deeper, and more criminal swamp, than even Richard Nixon did. Scary times, but we the people are the only ones who matter, we need to get control of our democracy, and stop the hate mongering between our so-called leaders in Washington, as well as the state levels, and live in a democracy that works for everyone. Thanks again for your comment, be safe and have a great day.

  2. This book was selected to me for a study a friend is supposed to make and the name of the book seemed really strange I’m a way but I didn’t know it was in a way related to politics. It’s not a bad one by any means but it is really good to see what you shared here. This is some wonderful information. Thanks a lot.

    1. Thank you Payton for your comment, it is quite the book, especially when you can just download it with eBooks.com, link is available on post. It is a great read for a discussion group, or alone, to see how far our politics have changed, and conformed into tribal politics. To me it is a scary thought, on both sides of the political spectrum, but Republicans, since Newt Gingrich and before, have just come out in the open to express the hate, and criminal ways in which they are going about to maintain power. Good read, and thanks again for your comment.

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