Sarah Palin, Going Rogue: An American Life

Going Rogue: An American Life

She cooks a mean moose chili (though, as she admits, she ”never pretended to have a huge culinary repertoire”). She doesn’t mention Levi Johnston, the father of her daughter Bristol’s baby — not once. Her passages about her son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome, are incredibly moving.

But before you start scanning this review of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue for a lefty New York bias, let me be clear: I’m not affiliated with any political party. I’ve voted for Democrats; I’ve voted for Republicans. That said, Going Rogue is nothing special, a standard bit of political posturing from someone still eyeing higher office. That’s clear from the jacket photo alone: Palin, hair down, gazing sturdily into the distance, clad in a red track jacket (no fancy duds here), an American flag pinned to her chest. I’m like you, the photo says. ”[Todd and I] felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington, D.C.,” she writes.

Though Palin says that in college she ”studied journalism because of my passion for the power of words,” she hired a ghostwriter, Lynn Vincent, for Going Rogue. Fair enough: Writing a newspaper article is much different from crafting a full-length book. But Vincent did her no favors. Her attempts to mime Palin’s no-nonsense speech sometimes result in painful manglings: ”I breathed in an autumn bouquet that combined everything small-town America with rugged splashes of the Last Frontier.” Still, the first few chapters — about Palin’s early life in Alaska — are down-to-earth and funny (”You know you’re Alaskan when at least twice a year your kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant”). But the passages about her personal politics and her stint as Alaska’s governor are less than forthright, and the description of her time with the McCain campaign reads less like history than like ax grinding.

What’s more, Palin displays virtually no introspection. When McCain asks her to run, she says, ”I certainly didn’t think, Well, of course this would happen. But neither did I think, What an astonishing idea. It seemed more comfortable than that, a natural progression.” Wait a minute: Moving swiftly from mayor of Wasilla to governor of Alaska to Vice President of the United States is a natural progression? I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that Palin owes readers a little more than that. Yet maybe that’s naive of me. Palin has just done what almost all politicians do — delivered a mediocre, unsurprising, self-serving memoir. C

Going Rogue: An American Life
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