“Duplicity,” the newest novel by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Pete Earley, has a highly plausible plot that mixes domestic and global action. Readers will be reminded of the Benghazi-style attack on the U.S. embassy along with political deception, radical Islamic terrorists and ruthless D.C. staffers who scheme to manipulate the electorate during the presidential election.
The plot has the current president, Sally Allworth, deciding to take a tough stand on terrorism to gain votes by opening an American embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia. While the history and background in the area is provided, it does not slow down the action but actually enhances the story. The authors do not take the politically correct course as they depict the terrorists’ violent actions of decapitations, torture and dismemberment. Allworth’s opponent, Gov. Timothy Coolidge, challenges that she is playing politics with American lives, especially after the embassy is attacked and hostages are taken. This leaves CIA station chief Gunther Conner and Marine Capt. Brooke Grant, the military attaché, to plan a rescue.
Throughout the book the story shows how each main character’s agenda affects the circumstances: Connor wanting to prove that the different terrorist groups are actually headed by one person; Grant attempts to coordinate with the US military to attempt a rescue; Governor Coolidge uses the incident to cement his isolationist views; and President Allworth and her administration attempt to manipulate the event by going into damage control.
Gingrich explained that he got the idea for the story from the headlines as terrorism has become “a worldwide phenomenon and much more purposeful and technologically advanced than we give it credit for. One of the key terrorists in our novel is an American who has rejected Western civilization in favor of the radical Islamist effort to impose an alternative system of belief by force and terror tactics. One of the reasons I agreed to do contemporary modern history is to show the gap between the elite denial of reality and what is happening in the worldwide war with Islamic supremacists. I used the genre of a novel because it is the most effective way to tell a story.”
The setting of Somalia was chosen because 125,000 Somalis reside in Minnesota and the terrorist group Al-Shabah is prevalent in that country. Gingrich hopes to show that only a small amount of Minnesota Somalis have gone to ISIS, stating, “only about 20. Eighty to 90 percent of Minnesota Somalis have become true Americans. There are millions of American Muslims who embrace our values, are deeply patriotic, and loyal. One character in Duplicity is a Somali American who is running for Congress in Minneapolis while his brother is the No. 2 leader in Al Shabaab in Mogadishu. The tension between the two is like a civil war in a single family. We must be aware, as Paris and California reminds us, it does not take a large number of terrorists to cause a great amount of danger.”
Part of what makes the story so interesting is the well-developed characters. Running against President Sally Allworth is Gov. Timothy Coolidge, a declared isolationist. For any reader who wondered if that character mirrored 30th president of the U.S., Gingrich noted, “I admire Calvin Coolidge since I consider him one of the most interesting guys in American history. In the 1920s isolationism did not mean the same thing as today. During that period Republicans were very engaged in foreign diplomacy. For example, they were involved in the German financial problem, in Latin America, and had US Marines in Nicaragua. They did not believe in entangling alliances because they did not trust anyone. Just because they were opposed to the League of Nations the Left summarized them as isolationists.”
Gingrich is hoping that after reading this, Americans will begin to understand “The world is genuinely dangerous. This danger is coming here and we need to hold our public officials accountable. Just as in the book, world events will have an impact on the 2016 Presidential election in a way we cannot anticipate right now.”
He gave a heads up about the next book in the series, Treason. It follows in the footsteps of the book by Diana West, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character, which accounts the massive Moscow-directed penetration of American society. West shows that the system of spies designed to denigrate the American way of life was deep and extensive during the 1940s. Treason has a similar premise brought up to date: why couldn’t there be someone in support of radical Islam that is able to keep it secret as they rise in power. It will also have terrorism coming to the US.
Gingrich has proven that not only can he write non-fiction and historical novels, but also riveting thrillers. Anyone looking for a well-paced novel with excellent characters and a story ripped from the headlines should read this book.