Sarah Palin book review: "How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down
September 30, 2008 —
A few weeks ago, when Senator John McCain put rumors to rest and revealed his running mate, you could almost hear the question rumble across 49 states:
While Alaskans knew their governor well, most people were in the dark then. Now, unless you just woke up from a long three-week nap, the name of Governor Sarah Palin is familiar. But with one of the country’s most important elections looming, how much do you know about her?
You owe it to yourself to possess as much knowledge as possible about Palin as well as the other candidates when you step to the booth this fall. Begin by picking up the book “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down” by Kaylene Johnson (c.2008, Epicenter Press, $19.95, 159 pages)
Raised in a boisterous family, Sarah Heath had integrity and honesty instilled in her from an early age. Johnson says that the Heath kids knew they had to work to get anything extra, so they hauled wood, gardened, and did other assorted chores for spending money. Sarah knew that college was not an option and that she and her siblings had to pay for their own education.
Johnson said Sarah entered a beauty pageant solely for the scholarships.
After eloping with her boyfriend, Todd Palin, and following the birth of her second child, Sarah was encouraged to run for Wasilla City Council, a seat of which she won by a comfortable margin. Shortly thereafter, she challenged the incumbent for mayor and won by an even wider vote. Later, after eyeing the lieutenant governor’s office and accepting (and resigning from) an appointment to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Palin ran on an “I’ll listen” platform and became Governor of Alaska, the first woman to do so.
“Challenge” is a good word that describes Palin’s tenure in office. Johnson gently relates several incidences where Palin went head-to-head with officials in various departments, most of whom quickly met her “personal brand of stubborn resolve.” And her time spent in office - much like her nomination as vice president for the Republican ticket – was not without controversy.
While “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down” is informative, it’s also ripe with sappy pandering (“Sally Heath has… a voice that sounds like a song.”), overgeneralizations (“Her down-home demeanor is one reason why Alaskans like her.”) and quite biased U-Rah-Rah storytelling.
Author Kaylene Johnson lives near Wasilla, so enthusiasm for a neighbor is something to be expected but I was also hoping for a little bit more neutrality in this book, particularly on behalf of any reader who’s looking for hard facts and less ebullience.
Supporters are going to love this book, but there’s nothing new in here for them. Undecided voters will have to look past the effluent praise to find the nuggets that are here to glean. My advice is to find this book, read it, and ignore the gushing because education is important on your way to the voting booth, and “Sarah” is a good start.
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