Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past week or so, you can’t have failed to notice the launch of Sarah Palin’s new book, “Going Rogue“. I have read her much anticipated tome and recommend saving your money and borrowing someone else’s copy. Books by politicians tend to fall into one of two categories—a statement of their political views and/or policies or a memoir of their life and a defense of their actions. “Going Rogue” is a mix of the two, performs badly on both counts, and is ultimately unsatisfying as a result.
That’s a shame because “Going Rogue” had the potential to be a very compelling book. Sarah Palin’s meteoric rise to fame, first as governor of Alaska and then as the first female Republican vice-presidential candidate, captured everyone’s interest and her behind-the-scenes account of the 2008 campaign could have been a rip-roaring good tale. Would a different ghost writer, someone less polemic than Lynn Vincent, been able to coax the story out of her? It’s hard to say.
Likewise, a straight forward account of her conservative principles and her take on politics of the day would have had a smaller, but equally interested audience. Unfortunately, “Going Rogue” mixes a generalized account of her life and career with political screeds and the end result ranges from clashing to completely unbelievable. Are we really supposed to buy, for example, that she urged her daughter Bristol to put off starting a small business until Obama was out of office? Sheesh.
The publication of “Going Rogue” has set off an avalanche of refutations and fact checking. A list of links follows:
Poltifact factchecks Palin’s book here
Shushannah Walshe, one of the authors of “Sarah from Alaska”, refutes some of Palin’s claims about the 2008 campaign here
Shannyn Moore offers three of the Alaskans (Anne Kilkenny, John Bitney, and Andrew Halcro) who were bad-mouthed in the book equal time on her show, video segments of which are posted on here on her blog, “Just a Girl from Homer”, and on YouTube. The panel discussion is very civilized. I must say that I’m happy to finally see a group of people who actually understand Alaskan issues and know Mrs. Palin personally talk about this book as opposed to the usual range of vacuous talking heads.
Geoffrey Dunn (Huffington Post columnist) talks here about Anchorage activist Andree McLeod and here about Palin’s former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, also bad-mouthed in the book. Dunn is a regular blogger on the lefty mega-site, the Huffington Post. He also has a book coming out called “The Lies of Sarah Palin” so he obviously has a bias, but the posts are interesting for the counterpoint they provide.
My ratings of other books on or about Sarah Palin:
Avoid “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down” by Kaylene Johnson. It’s a puff piece.
“Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar” by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, two reporters embedded with the McCain campaign, is an excellent book and an engaging read. The authors are sympathetic to their subject, but not blind to her faults and give an even-handed account of her career and the subsequent fall-out from the 2008 campaign.
To get the bigger picture, I highly recommend “The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election” by Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz. Johnson and Balz had behind the scenes access to all of the players in the 2008 election and give a clear rendering of the major problems with the Clinton and McCain campaigns as well the ups and downs of the Obama campaign. Another very readable and engaging book.