Newt Gingrich signed a few hundred copies of his new book, "Grant Comes East," Saturday in Scottsdale while in town for the wedding of Dan Quayle’s daughter.
"This is not part of a book tour," said Larry Siegel, a spokesman the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 10500 N. 90th St., where more than 350 people crowded to see the former Speaker of the House. "As far as I know, this is his only stop."
Fans of the conservative Republican were elbow-to-elbow in the bookstore, which not only sold all of its copies, but also those quickly shipped from other branches, an employee said.
In all, 264 copies were sold of the book billed as an "alternative history sequel" to his previous best-seller, "Gettysburg."
Only one other author, U.S. Sen. John McCain, attracted a larger crowd at the store near Loop 101 and Shea Boulevard, Siegel said. Typically, about 150 people show up for a book signing, he added.
Mike Hogan, 60, of Fountain Hills, said he was not surprised by the numbers. "(Gingrich has) a lot of celebrity. . . . And he’s controversial."
Gingrich was instrumental in getting former House Speaker Jim Wright, a Democrat, ousted for questionable dealings with a publisher. But Gingrich himself was fined $300,000 in 1997 by a House ethics committee for violating House rules barring use of tax-exempt foundations for political purposes. He announced his retirement from House the next year.
Gingrich talked briefly Saturday before signing copies of his collaborative work, which is based on the premise that the South won at Gettysburg. Critics and historians are praising it, in part, because of the seeming authenticity.
"One historian said he was 40 pages into the fictional part before he realized it and said, ‘Wait a second. That didn’t happen,’ " Gingrich told the crowd.
Gingrich kept mostly to his book and history in general in his remarks. Near the end, he turned to more recent events by opposing attempts to eliminate the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and by endorsing the war in Iraq. The conflict, he said, shared similarities to the Civil War clash between Missouri and Kansas.
"The fight is always the same. It never goes away," he said.