Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingrich and Historical Errors

Newt Gingrich's new book, A Nation Like No Other, contains a couple of historical errors.

Describing the 1942 Battle of Midway, he writes (pp. 159-160):
After a scout plane reports that the enemy carrier fleet has been located, Torpedo 8, along with other bomber squadrons and some fighter jets, takes off to its rendezvous with destiny.
There were no fighter jets at Midway-- or anywhere else -- in 1942. Although both the Axis and Allied forces were developing jet aircraft, there would be no operational fighter jets until 1944.

A few pages later (p.; 167), he discusses intelligence during the 1970s:
During Carter's presidency, the CIA tapped a group of experts on the Soviet Union—labeled “Team B”—to compare the capabilities of the United States and the Soviet Union.
The CIA did indeed commission a "Team B," but it did so during Gerald Ford's presidency, not Jimmy Carter's. The CIA director at the time was George H.W. Bush.

These points are nitpicks, of course, but there are two reasons for noting them. First, Gingrich often refers to his background as a historian, so it is appropriate to hold his writings to a high standard of accuracy. Second, he is seeking to be commander in chief, so his comments on military and intelligence matters merit close scrutiny.