BOOK REVIEW: GOING ROGUE–An American Life by Sarah Palin


Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Going Rogue—An American Life (2009) is a personal and political memoir by politician Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican candidate for U.S. Vice President on the ticket with Senator John McCain. She wrote this wonderful book with Lynn Vincent.

    The book became a New York Times #1 bestseller in its first week of release, and remained there for six weeks. It is one of the four political memoirs published since the 1990s to sell more than two million copies.

    Let me comment on this book more from an Indian perspective—Kafi dil khol kar likha hai Sarah Palin ne is kitab ko—She has really poured her heart into this book. What, she could, really bring out, is how, the political grid, of the U.S works. And within that, how American politicians, operate. Sarah belongs to Alaska and boy-oh-boy what a vivid description she has given of Alaska. Its mind boggling. She perhaps hasn’t left any aspect of Alaska untouched—be it oil, pipeline, gold, snow and the caribou. Sitting here in India one thinks Alaska is but cold cold and cold and nothing more, but Sarah Palin has showcased Alaska, the biggest state of the US in its full glory and elements.

    Although the book is a thick marathon spine of—some 341 pages and that too the big ones 6 x 9 inches, yet you won’t feel like keeping it aside, as the narration, only keeps, cheeringly swishing, all along. It’s a happening book. It’s a moving book and so is the life of Sarah Palin. Price of the book is 16$.

    It’s a narration that every Indian politician should read. It gives a hands on account of how election campaigns are conducted in the US. Their value system—and why America is America. It dwells deep into Sarah Palin’s personal life. How she balances between career, home, children and the rub-off of these on politics and vice-versa.

    Sarah is a mother of five children, youngest was born, when she was, the governor of Alaska, with down-syndrome. But she knows how to fight it out. She is blessed with a gentleman husband Todd, who is full of understanding. Her eldest son is in the army posted in Iraq. In the book she is extremely transparent about her family and her views and doesn’t mince words. She is against teen pregnancies yet she supports her daughter when she conceives and is in the family way. The piece on election campaign is superbly written.

    The book has six chapters:

  1. The Last Frontier
  2. Kitchen-Table Politics
  3. Drill, Baby Drill
  4. Going Rogue
  5. The Thumpin
  6. The Way Forward followed by Epilogue, A view from Alaska by Dewey Whetsell, Afterword and Acknowledgments

    Delving deeper. On September 3, 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave a speech at the Republican National Convention that electrified the nation and instantly made her one of the most recognizable women in the world. As chief executive of America’s largest state, she had built a record as a reformer who cast aside politics-as-usual and pushed through changes other politicians only talk about: Energy independence. Ethics reform. And the biggest private sector infrastructure project in U.S. history. While revitalizing public-school funding and ensuring the state met its responsibilities to seniors and Alaska Native populations, Palin also beats the political “good ol’ boys club” at their own game and brought Big Oil to heel.

    In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Palin paints an intimate portrait of growing up in the wilds of Alaska, meeting her lifelong love, her decision to enter politics, the importance of faith and family, and the unique joys and trials of life as a high-profile working mother. She also opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare mom’s-eye view of high-stakes national politics—from patriots dedicated to “Country First” to slick politicos bent on winning at any cost. Going Rogue traces one ordinary citizen’s extraordinary journey, and imparts Palin’s vision of a way forward for America and her unfailing hope in the greatest nation on earth.

Writing process

    The book deal was announced in May 2009 when Palin was still Governor of Alaska. She said that she wanted the public to hear her true story, “unrestrained and unfiltered”. She reportedly received an advance of $1.25 million from publisher Harper Collins, with two projected additional payouts of between $2.5 million and $5 million each.

    Palin announced that although she would have a ghostwriter to help, she would be doing a lot of the writing herself, employing her journalism skills and the personal diaries and notes that she had kept throughout her life. Critics questioned whether Palin could write a book.

    Responding to concerns that writing and promoting the book would interfere with her duties as governor, Palin said she would only work on the book after working hours and would promote the book whenever she has the rightful opportunity. The Alaska law department issued a legal opinion which okayed the project, stating: “A book publication project is compatible with your position as governor so long as it does not interfere with your official duties”.

    Conservative journalist and author Lynn Vincent worked on the book with Palin for several weeks shortly after she resigned the governorship in the summer of 2009. Palin met with HarperCollins editors for intensive editing sessions in New York City. HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham said that Palin had been “unbelievably conscientious and hands-on at every stage”, adding that the book was “her words, her life … in full and fascinating detail”. 

 The publisher attributed completion of the memoir early to Palin’s devoting full-time to the writing process after she left office. A paperback version of the book, with new material, was released on August 24, 2010.

    The first part of the book is devoted to Palin’s life before the 2008 campaign; the second part details her life as a candidate for national office. The book is written in a personal tone similar to Palin’s manner of speaking. Palin discusses the disagreements she had with campaign advisers of her running mate John McCain, criticizes the national media, and talks about the importance of religion and family life.

    The “Going Rogue” part of the title refers to criticism leveled at Palin by McCain campaign advisers that she was straying from their carefully crafted message and publicly disagreeing with McCain on several issues. The subtitle, “An American Life”, mirrors the title of President Ronald Reagan’s 1990 autobiography.

    Palin ends the book by quoting her own father saying, “Sarah’s not retreating, she’s reloading.”, suggesting she would return to public life.

    I would give it eight out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi



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