Rehm, Woodward and Gingrich Make News at National Book Festival

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Newt Gingrich (right) at the National Book Festival with Rep. Steve Israel and interviewer Colleen Shogan.
Newt Gingrich (right) at the National Book Festival with Rep. Steve Israel and interviewer Colleen Shogan.

Diane Rehm, Bob Woodward and Newt Gingrich were among the more than 120 authors featured at the 16th annual National Book Festival, held Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Washington Convention Center. They all made news.

Rehm, host of her long-running, nearly national NPR talk show, not only acknowledged that she was retiring at the end of the year, but announced that her last show would be at the White House: an exclusive interview with departing President Obama.

“I’m thrilled,” the 80-year old Rehm said in that strange but familiar voice, affected 20 years ago by a severe vocal disorder. Rehm wrote about that and about her strict upbringing by Syrian Orthodox immigrant parents in her first book, with the double-entendre title “Finding My Voice.” Her new book, “On My Own,” tells of learning to live alone after the agonizing slow death from Parkinson’s disease of John Rehm, her husband of 54 years. Her experience brought about her new passion for the right to die, a cause for which she intends to advocate after leaving WAMU in January.

Georgetown resident, Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post editor Bob Woodward presented “The Last of the President’s Men,” his 18th book (12 were best sellers). But he spent most of his interview time lamenting the current deep mistrust with which the public views the press. “How many of you think the media is doing a good job covering the election?” the Watergate reporter who ushered in the modern age of star investigative journalism asked the audience of more than 1,000. Six people raised their hands. Woodward sighed. “We have a long way to go to get out of probation.”

Former House speaker Newt and his wife Callista Gingrich were there for two very different books: a political thriller and a children’s political book. Newt co-wrote his new novel “Duplicity” with Pete Earley. In their book, POTUS is a woman, facing reelection and wanting to do something newsy. She decides to ignore reality and open a barely protected embassy in a terrorist state. As a result, the heroine, an ambitious and well-connected African American Marine, gets into a Benghazi-like situation.

“Any coincidence here, Newt — woman presidential candidate and Benghazi?” this reporter asked. Newt is a well-known Trump supporter who some thought would be the Republican vice presidential nominee.

“No,” he said.

What did he think about a Trump presidency?

“We’ll see after Monday’s debate,” said Newt.

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