The Long March of Newt Gingrich Part One(7:44) A lonely, precocious Army brat, Newt loved animals, the movies and military history.

The Long March of Newt Gingrich: Part One

by
This week, FRONTLINE is putting up excerpts from our 1996 biography, The Long March of Newt Gingrich. Watch part two, part three and part four.

“You either love him or you hate him and he’s the kind of person you can’t ignore. So you do, you love him or you hate him. He’s going to be in your face at all times, one way or another.”
Robert Gingrich, Newt’s stepfather

In January 1996, as the country headed into a presidential election year, FRONTLINE aired The Long March of Newt Gingrich, an investigative biography of the outspoken and controversial Speaker of the House.

As Gingrich gained momentum in the current race for the Republican nomination, we re-watched the film and thought it was too good to sit in the archives. Today through Wednesday we’ll be posting excerpts from the film, which examines the people, places and events that have profoundly influenced and shaped his personality and political career.

In the first installment, which features Gingrich family photos and home movies, correspondent Peter J. Boyer — author of Newsweek‘s recent cover story, “The Audacity of Newt” — examines Gingrich’s childhood and talks to his mother Kathleen and stepfather Bob.

“Newtie,” as his mother calls him, was the product of her three-day marriage to “Big Newt” McPherson, a hard-drinking, 19-year-old mechanic, whom she says she walked out on after he hit her. Kathleen would later marry Bob Gingrich, a military man, who adopted her son.

Young Newt grew up as a lonely, precocious Army brat, who loved the movies and animals. Kathleen recalls how at age 10, Newt presented a plan to build a zoo to the local mayor. But at age 15, his life was changed by a family trip to the battle site of Verdun, where nearly 1 million died in World War I. At Verdun, Newt saw that it was politics that truly shaped the world.

Bonus: Vanity Fair‘s Gail Sheehy interviewed Gingrich and his family for “The Inner Life of Newt Gingrich,” a September 1995 profile of Newt’s wars, his women and his contract with himself.

Produced by Steve Talbot, The Long March of Newt Gingrich was a co-production with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.PBSPark FoundationMacArthur FoundationwyncoteCPB

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.