by Sarah Palin
I debated on how to rate this book. I consider myself a Sarah Palin fan, so I'm not really the most objective reviewer.
I'll get my criticism out of the way first. From a technical point of view, the book is uneven. It is basically a "My Life Thus Far." If you expect a work of literary genius, you will be disappointed. The narrative drags at times. There are places at which the chronology jumps around.
If you want a work of philosophical brilliance, again, you're not going to find it. The book is her story, which at times involves summarizing her philosophical ideals.
If you are a Sarah fan and want to hear your own conservative principles articulated clearly and concisely, you might feel let down. Governor Palin does not claim to be a spokesperson for conservatism in general. She definitely kowtows to no political party or group.
But the book does tell her story. Most of us in the lower 48 will find her anecdotes of Alaskan adventure interesting if not somewhat awe-inspiring. I especially liked a story of her dad, a science teacher, leading scientific discussions at the supper table. I've returned the book to the library, so I can't quote directly, but she finished the paragraph with something to the effect of she didn't realize that not everyone sat around the supper table listening to talks on naturalism while dining upon caribou lasagna. The spirit of independence associated with frontier America comes through loud and clear in her writing.
Another aspect of her personality with which I was impressed was her faith. It's hard for those outside a tradition of faith to understand how one can have strong religious convictions and yet administrate in a manner they would consider objectively. This book might help a discerning reader see how this works in the life of a civic leader who adheres strongly to his or her religious tenets. I think Governor Palin gives some fine examples of how her Christian faith guides her in her personal life. But her civic actions were guided by the social precepts with which she was charged, for instance, the Alaskan constitution.
She also tells very plainly of the pain she's suffered at the hands of the press and political foes, and even occasionally those who have purported to be political friends. The offenses I knew of barely scratched the surface of what she and her family lived through as a result of the 2008 campaign. There were times while reading, when my heart cried for her or one of her family members.
From a political point of view, she often mentions political goals she held during her tenure first on the Wasilla city council, and all the way through to her Vice Presidential campaign. She lists such things as small government, accountability to the constituents, lower taxes, less regulation, local control. She only occasionally mentions getting back to constitutional roots. But she does talk about operating within the Alaskan constitution. That struck me as a strong point in her favor. Many are the voices for adherence to the constitution on the national level. But from among the myriad voices calling for such adherence along with small local governance, I am probably not alone when I say I've given little or no thought to my own state's constitution. That struck me as a blaring inconsistency within my own value system.
The fact that she distances herself from the conservative movement made me a bit uncomfortable from a philosophical point of view. But only uncomfortable because she doesn't spell out from which conservatives she chooses to distance herself.
This woman does not need political success in order to feel fulfilled. Her family is her life. Any political position she is entrusted with is a vocation. A job to be done faithfully, to the best of her ability. But her family is her lasting legacy. This is a woman who is stalwart in her ideals; she has spirit, tenacity, compassion and strength of character.