Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Review: Sarah Palin's Going Rogue - Strength in Adversity

by Lisa Graas, editor --

Earlier today I learned that Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue: An American Life is at the #1 position on the NYTimes Bestseller List. Before I finished reading it a few moments ago, I certainly couldn't have told you if its position there is rightful or not. Now, I can attest that it is.

It's taken me a bit longer than many others to finish reading the book. I know of some who finished reading it within 24 hours. I couldn't finish quickly because I spent so much time in various places throughout the book just absorbing what Sarah Palin had to say about certain things and also spending some time praying about it.

Because I have followed the news on Governor Palin almost daily since her announcement as the VP candidate in Dayton on August 29, 2008, I was already quite familiar with many of the details of the events she shared in the book regarding her phenomenal work as Governor of the State of Alaska, certain mishaps in the 2008 campaign, the frivolous complaints against her, and so on. It's not an easy task getting accurate information, believe me, but provided that you are a genuine seeker of justice and truth -- and if you have a lot of patience -- you can find it if you look hard enough.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical when I first heard that Palin would be penning a memoir rather than focusing solely on policy. I remember sending an email to one of my more venerable compatriots in the pro-Palin blogosphere, complaining about it. I didn't save the email so I can't quote directly, but it was something along the lines of "What is she thinking??? A biography??? You can't run on biography!" I was told that it would all be for the best, but I wasn't so sure. I was skeptical. Too skeptical, in fact.

After reading Going Rogue: An American Life, I can now say that I was 100% WRONG in my analysis of the wisdom of this move. I had to send a follow-up note admitting that, yes, Governor Palin has once again made my jaw drop open with her brilliance. This is about the third time she's done this to me so you'd think I'd have more faith in her by now. What can I say? I'm not a Palin Kool-Aid drinker. I'm a born skeptic, but not a cynic. Even so, amazing people can make your jaw drop open in joyful awe no matter how much you may be a champion against cynicism. So it has been with me in my experience of following Governor Palin's career.

By telling the story of her life, Palin shares far more than defenses against attacks as many book reviewers out there would have you believe. Going Rogue is certainly biographical, but it is far more than that. It's a solid accounting of events throughout her life that have shaped her into the person she is today, including policy decisions, and it outlines a vision for what she calls "The Way Forward". In other words, there's a lot of red meat in this book for conservative carnivores to savor.

Palin added many additional details that I was not previously aware of which served to deepen the understanding that I already had regarding the high-profile events in her life. Those places in the book where I had to stop and ponder were those places where she shared what her thoughts and conversations with others were as each of these events unfolded. This information was mostly new to me and helped me to get to know much more closely the kind of person Sarah Palin is -- the things that have shaped her, how she deals with adversity, and the real story of what has brought her to where she is today. It's a story previously untold, and as someone who has been spending over a year defending her from the "buckshot" hurled her way, I found it all incredibly moving. (Note: You'll have to read the book for more about "buckshot".)

I've always known that as much as I've hurt for Governor Palin and her family over the past year, she and her family have had to endure infinitely more being in the direct line of fire. What I've learned is that she's been much stronger through it all than I've been myself. Attacks on her that shook me -- and many of my Palin-supporting compatriots -- to the core never even broke her stride. I was amazed, not only by her emotional and mental stamina, but also the same steadfastness that's so prevalent in her family.

Throughout the book, she shares instances where her family set her straight, gave valuable insight (even little Piper did this for her before the VP debate) or gave her the strength of their example. She also shares anecdotes about support that came from people within the campaign, so rumors that this is all about attacking others are greatly exaggerated. She doesn't merely "set the record straight" about things that happened. More importantly, she offers up the facts about her own limitations and how she worked through them with faith and confidence, thereby reaping the rewards of endurance.

I haven't kept count of all of the accusations against her and all of the statements she's made, even among those confined to the pages of her book. There are so many, it's hard to count them all. She answered them all flawlessly for me with one exception. Very early in the book -- on page 3, in fact -- she implies that the Republican party determines whom Alaska Right to Life endorses in elections. As someone who has worked within the Right to Life organization, I do take issue with the suggestion that this is the policy or practice of any official Right to Life organization. I'm willing to give Palin the benefit of the doubt on this. Perhaps this is a mistaken belief on how the organization is run, but I would like more information on this before pronouncing final judgment on it. My inherent skepticism forbids me from being critical of either Palin or Alaska Right to Life until I have more information. In my experience, though, I must say that although state affiliates of National Right to Life do sometimes decide to endorse candidates based partly on "electability", the suggestion that any political party has any say in Right to Life endorsements is a rather scandalous one, in my view. I'll wait for more info before I make a judgment on that.

It's difficult to choose from among a wide array of imporant quotes to share with you from Going Rogue which touched me, but as a challenged person myself, the words that struck home most deeply were those she wrote about people with disabilities. In describing her experience at a rally in Fairfax, Virginia, Palin wrote:

I remember looking about and seeing scores of wheelchairs. In the middle of my speech it started pouring rain. Within five minutes, I looked like a wet dog and my makeup was running off my face. I wanted to keep going and finish because I didn't want to disappoint all those people who had been waiting for hours to hear our ticket's message. Even more, I was inspired to see that not one of the people in wheelchairs made a move to leave.

I thought, This is inspiration!
In regard to people who live with Down Syndrome, she writes:

They spend their lives knowing they are different from other people. So it blessed me in ways I can't even describe to be able to help bring them from the fringe into the bright spotlight that most often seems reserved only for the
I can't tell you how important it is for someone like me to read these words. I've shared with you all before how it is Governor Palin who inspired me to bite the bullet and get out of my wheelchair when I read the Runner's World interview . It was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do in life -- even tougher than trekking up Mt. LeConte when I was younger and more able-bodied with a husband who hadn't informed me ahead of time that we were going to go all the way to the top! Like Palin, I used to be an athlete. I played basketball in high school and, later, volleyball, racquetball, cycling, and running. With a damaged nervous system, those days are long gone, but the Runner's World interview inspired me to bite hard on that bullet long enough to lose twenty pounds and make myself get a bit stronger. I'll always be grateful to her for this example of the rewards of facing challenges of all kinds, including physical ones.

We've heard a lot of talk from our President about "Hope" and "Change". When you live the sort of life where you can't sleep for longer than four hours because of pain, waking up unable to move your arms and/or your legs and being forced to call for a family member to come move you, then you will know that "hope" isn't defined in terms of federal funding. Further, you will know that the "change" that matters most of all is the "change" of your heart from discouragement and the change of your mind when you decide, "Hey, I'm going to try to get out of this bed ANYWAY! I'm not going to just lay here and moan. I'm going to make the most of this." That is real hope. That is real change.

When you have someone in a position of fame and power who acknowledges with truly heartfelt sincerity that you are a human person made in God's image, with all the dignity and value that comes from that -- quite the opposite of a person who pledges more funds to abort more children like you while ludicrously calling it "health care" -- it's easy to see who really has a heart that has been shaped to fight for you -- who is really equipped to give you genuine hope and change -- and who has a heart that has been shaped to fight against you.

In Going Rogue, Sarah Palin offers a lot of information about her views on economics which will satisfy those concerned with the rampant spending in Washington, D.C. She shares personal stories regarding her role as a mother that will appeal greatly to many moms out there. (As a mom of four, I laughed myself silly, and completely related to her, when she described her first pregnancy/delivery experience.) Those curious to know her record as governor will not be disappointed and anyone who has to know what happened behind the scenes during the campaign will also be fully satisfied with the book. Young women in particular, I think, will find much strength and guidance for the road that will lay ahead for them if they, too, are called to great and difficult challenges and opportunities in life. In fact, I think this book should be in the hands of every young lady between the ages of 14 and 20, provided, of course, that she's willing to read it.

For me personally, though, this is a book about being strong and rising to the occasion, no matter how tough life gets. No matter the adversity, no matter the nonsense that is dropped in your lap, no matter what lies people may make up about you to marginalize you or demean you, Sarah Palin is a witness that you not only can fight on.....but you must fight on.

I hear you, Sarah. I will fight on.

Going Rogue: An American Life, at Amazon

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2 comments: on "Book Review: Sarah Palin's Going Rogue - Strength in Adversity"

Shane Vander Hart said...

Regarding Alaska Right to Life, it could have been something she was told or was miscommunicated to her. It may also be something that she perceived to be the case with the flak she got from the establishment.

Also Murkowski may be pro-life, so if they were only going to endorse one candidate wouldn't they go with the incumbent?

But if you find anything concrete out I'll look forward to reading it.

As far as a memoir is concerned it's pretty typical that that is written first and then move on to other topics. I think it helps her to get some of those questions out of the way, and share her side of what happened. Now she can move on and focus on moving forward.

I suspect we'll see another book out of her.

Lisa Graas said...

Thanks, Shane. A friend in Right to Life sent me this article from McClatchy.

I do wish she'd mentioned the subsequent endorsement and glowing comments from the President of Alaska Right to Life. I agree with him that her example alone is life-saving. I believe that if she were in the White House, the abortion rate would decline significantly even if no laws were changed just by virtue of her example. I do wish she'd mentioned these things about Alaska Right to Life in the book, but it's not something I'm going to concern myself with much.

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