The book Sarah From Alaska by Scott Conroy, and Shushannah Walshe, who were both embedded with Sarah Palin’s vice presidential campaign, manages to accomplish the seemingly impossible. It offers an objective account of Sarah Palin’s fast rise and abrupt resignation. There is lots here for both Palin’s fans and critics.
One of the first things that you will notice when reading this book is that it is comprehensive. Early on, we hear from Sarah Palin’s parents who talk about their daughter as a child and teen. The authors chart Palin’s rise from local mayor to governor to vice presidential candidate mostly through talking to people who were aides to or worked for her. Conroy and Walshe conducted 190 interviews for the book.
They capture not only the changes in Palin’s politics, but also her personality. Sarah Palin went from being a politician whose calling card was compromise to someone who maintains hard line conservative positions. Personality wise, she went from being the governor who would just pop by legislator’s offices to say hi, to being antagonistic and guarded when she got back to Alaska.
Palin’s good and bad points get lots of coverage in this book. She can be kind, generous, and thoughtful. She can also be petty, vindictive, and cold, especially when it comes to firing staff. Palin also seems to lose sight of the big picture as she gets herself bogged down by constantly trying to either enhance or protect her image.
One of the most interesting elements of this book is that it doesn’t take sides in feud between the Palin and McCain camps. It does go into detail to explain how fragmented and dysfunctional the McCain campaign was, and how the addition of Palin to the ticket is was both a lifeline and an anchor for McCain’s electoral prospects.
The reader is bound to learn things that they didn’t know. For instance, Sarah Palin was so uncomfortable with cost of the designer clothes that the McCain campaign bought for her that staffers had to take the price tags off of items before she tried them on. Some of the stories about Palin, like the clothes, turn out to be wrong, while others, such as her thin skin and obsession with anonymous bloggers are accurate.
Nothing is left out. The book covers everything from her rise to her resignation and subsequent Twittering and Facebooking. Writing an objective book about a person as polarizing as Palin does come with the risk that the book may turn off both Palin supporters and critics, but Conroy and Walshe provide so much insight and information that the finished product ends up having something for everyone. If you are looking for a Palin book that offers a neutral portrait of her, than this is the read for you.
Palin supporters will love certain parts of the book and loathe others, while her critics will find plenty of ammo in it to boost their claims that Palin is not ready for the big stage in American politics. In an age where everyone has an agenda, it is refreshing to read a book that is not pushing one.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association