I fully understand that because I have made a documentary film about the media coverage of the 2008 election which features an exclusive interview with Sarah Palin and because I have relentlessly defended her against unprecedentedly unfair, inaccurate and dangerous media coverage, that my opinions on her book will be mostly discounted like a film endorsement made by Jay Leno or Larry King while they throw softballs to the movie’s star. After all, I have far too much real information at my disposal (like having actually spoken to her a few times) to be taken very seriously in this day and age, unless of course I had something really bad to say about Palin or her book.
With that said, I was simply blown away by Going Rogue on almost every level. For many reasons, this is by far the best book and greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime.
Why do I confidently go out on the type of limb that will make MSNBC hosts salivate? First, let’s consider the circumstances under which this book was written.
Keep in mind that in the year and a half before she could have possibly really started writing the book that she had: given birth to a child with Down Syndrome, had her teenage daughter’s unwed pregnancy become world wide news, had her first son sent to Iraq, was picked as a VP candidate and was the target of the most inaccurate media coverage in modern history, got blamed for losing the race to a man whose election she rightly believes is horrible for our country, had rape jokes made about her fourteen-year-old daughter on national television, and was forced to resign from the governorship of the state she loves because a bunch of losers made it impossible for her to do her job productively.
“For many reasons, this is by far the best book and greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime.”
After all that, most people would have trouble spelling their own name and would have to disappear to a deserted island for at least a few months. Instead, Sarah Palin was somehow immediately able to produce a magnificent four hundred and thirteen page book, knowing it would receive unprecedented scrutiny, and did so several months ahead of schedule. Regardless of what you think about her or her politics, that is a remarkable human accomplishment (even with the help of a collaborator).
So, what do we learn from Going Rogue? Tons. Lots more than the incredibly (though not surprisingly) biased media coverage of the book’s release would have you believe.
Among other things, we discover that Sarah Palin has a ridiculously good memory. People who know me say that I have an amazing ability to recall events and I have written two books, but I was blown away by the level of detail in this project, which encompasses her entire life. Since the timing of Going Rogue did not allow for massive amounts of time and resources to be put into research it had to all be put together — in incredibly short order — by Palin’s own memory and notes. The notion that numerous “news” outlets thirsting to find inaccuracies have yet to find one of major significance (no, a disagreement over the definition of “vetting” does not count) may to be the greatest testament to the book’s remarkable credibility.
As impressive as the details of the storytelling are, the real strength of Going Rogue is its brutal honesty. Quite simply, there has never been a memoir by someone with potential Presidential viability that has been nearly as open about what has really happened in his or her life and career. And I am not just referring here to Palin pulling no punches and naming names as to who did right and wrong by her and the campaign. I am also referencing the many times where Palin reveals episodes and intimate thoughts and feelings that she knows do not necessarily put her in the most positive light. Her candor goes way beyond typical political self-deprecation and into the realm of instructive human introspection, the type of which can only come from someone incredibly courageous, grounded, and self-aware.
Going Rogue is actually several books in one. It is a compelling biography, a gripping campaign tell-all, an expose on the sad state of our news media, a substantive outline of a political philosophy and even a comprehensive refutation of juicy tabloid rumors (Andrew Sullivan, among others, will have a lot of explaining to do). There are even plenty of touching, humorous (I laughed out loud when she describes Joe Biden just before their debate), and insightful moments in the book.
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