Young Sarah (the little one) watches her Dad
teach them how to skin a seal.

On p. 25 of Going Rogue Sarah makes a number of observations about the conditions under which Alaskans got news in the 70's. She remarks that her family did not often watch television, and even when they did, "television shows were still tape-delayed in Alaska by as much as a week, and a lot of news was old news by the time it filtered up north."

This was even more the case when an Alaskan went on hunting/hiking treks in the wild country of the Great Land.

In this context, Sarah relates on p. 25 a fascinating and, I think, very instructive tale about her dad in the year 1974. Sarah was ten years old; it was the year of Watergate and of the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

She writes:

"That year [1974], when I was ten, we traveled back down to Skagway for a visit...During our visit, Mom and Dad took some friends mountain-goat hunting and trekking. Sometimes Dad guided in the summers and would take groups of travelers on the Chilkoot Trail, the same route used during the Klondike Gold Rush. One summer it was a Florida businessman named Tad Duke and a group of his friends. (Many of those people started out as tourists and wound up as lifelong Heath family friends; Tad Duke was one who ended up helping me thirty years later on the campaign trail.)

"Our family loved that rugged Chilkoot hike, and Dad was happy to be out on the trail again that summer. I distinctly remember my folks returning after a week away and walking into the Moores' [family friends in Skagway] big kitchen. They hadn't had access to television or newspapers for days.

" 'Well, who's our president?' Dad asked.

"Omigosh, that's right, I thought. He doesn't even know that Richard Nixon resigned. America has a new president!"

I believe that Sarah is subtly imparting to us some profound wisdom in these deceptively simple words!

Chuck Heath would sometimes withdraw from "civilization" and from the "news" for a little while. Omigosh, as she says, he did not even know about the Nixon resignation!!

But what, what is the sort of thing that her dad did accomplish on these treks of his?

Think of Tad Duke, a man from Florida, a place about as far away from Alaska as you can get in the lower forty-eight...and what a difference in climate!! What did Mr. Heath accomplish? He forged such powerful and lasting bonds of friendship with the man that THIRTY YEARS LATER Mr. Duke helped Sarah on the campaign trail. Just think of the power of personality of Sarah's wonderful, remarkable dad that he could form and join golden links of amity and friendship so lasting and enduring that, DECADES later, his daughter was helped in a political campaign!

What might we learn from this?

Yes, there is nothing wrong with our striving to keep abreast of current events. Now, with twenty-four/seven cable news coverage, with the internet, with blogs ;-), there is access to news that is more ready and at hand today than at any time in human history...and, again, it is certainly important for citizen warriors, who are fighting for the survival of their Republic, to be aware of what is going on in the nation and in the world.

And yet...

A week away from the news; sweet, lasting fruits thrice-ten decades later...

Might it not be wise sometimes to withdraw and retreat for a little while from the hustle and huffing and puffing of the news and of daily affairs, and retreat on a "trek"? It does not necessarily have to be a physical trek; it can be an intellectual or a spiritual one (I think Mr. Heath's retreats were a combination of physical, intellectual, and spiritual journeys!)

Who among us can conceive of what the majestic and decades- even centuries-enduring results of a trek and retreat of prayer might be, a trek and retreat of sacrifice, a trek and retreat of contemplation? Tad Duke was "there" for Sarah thirty years, almost a third of a century, after he spent a few days in the company of her dad in the wilds of Alaska.

Can I even begin to conceive of the power of a few days of "retreat" spent in prayer? Maybe I will be helping, for example, a youngster who, say thirty or forty years from now, will in turn be assisting President Piper Palin in consolidating the great gains of the first Palin Revolution, that of her illustrious mom!!

Was it Tennyson (?) who said, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of"?

Ah, beautiful and fair and terrible (in the good sense of the term!) Land and Realm of the North Country!!

Ah, beautiful and fair and terrible Land and Realm where the human spirit touches the face of God!!!

Let us hearken to the Alaskan wisdom of Sarah and of her wonderful family!!!

Read It For Yourself:

Other Great Sarah Books:

Palin Essentials:


All sidebar photos are from Wikimedia. I have tried to post all royalty-free images or to get permission, but in a few cases I could not locate the original source of a photograph or find a way to ask permission.

Contact info:

Other Great Going Rogue Reviews:

Jedediah Bila:

"Palin’s inviting first-person narration that is sometimes whimsical, often confident, and always patriotic...Going Rogue is truly one of those reads in which you put the book down after your eyes graze the final lines and you somehow feel like the writer is someone you’ve known all your life."
John Ziegler:

"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..."
Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata:
"Her book washes away all doubts that any reader might have had about her readiness to be president. She comes across as exceptionally bright, dedicated, and passionate about public service. Her moral compass is strong, pointing true North in this case. And she has a wicked sense of humor."
Don Surber:
"Conservatives know why Palin is still standing — and standing taller today than those who tried to bring her down. What does not kill you makes you stronger. Thank you, Tina Fey."

Sarah Palin is Coming to Town

Review by Stanley Fish:

When I walked into the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan last week, I headed straight for the bright young thing who wore an “Ask Me” button, and asked her to point me to the section of the store where I might find Sarah Palin’s memoir, “Going Rogue: An American Life.” She looked at me as if I had requested a copy of “Mein Kampf” signed in blood by the author....

A few days later...I had begun reading Palin’s book, and while I wouldn’t count myself a fan in the sense of being a supporter, I found it compelling and very well done....

First, the art. The book has an architectonic structure that is built around a single moment, the moment when Palin receives a call from John McCain inviting her to be the vice-presidential candidate of the Republican party. When we first hear about the call it is as much a surprise to us as it was (at least as reported) to her, because for six pages she has been recounting a wonderful family outing at the Alaska State Fair. When her phone rings, she hopes it might be a call from her son Track, a soldier soon to deploy to Iraq, but “it was Senator John McCain asking if I wanted to help him change history.”

And that’s the last we hear of it for 200 pages. In between we hear a lot about Wasilla, high school, basketball, college, marriage, children, Down syndrome, Alaska politics, the environment, a daughter’s pregnancy. The re-entry of John McCain into the narrative on page 208 introduces Palin’s account of the presidential campaign and its aftermath, especially her decision to resign the governorship before the end of her term....

Paradoxically, the effect of the neatly spaced references to the call is to de-emphasize it as a dramatic moment. It is presented not as a climax, but as an interruption of matters more central to Palin’s abiding concerns — her family, Alaska’s prosperity, energy policy. (She loves to rehearse the kind of wonkish details we associate with Hillary Clinton, whom she admires.)

Indeed, it is a feature of this narrative that events we might have expected to be foregrounded are elided or passed over. Palin introduced herself to the nation with a powerful, electrifying speech accepting McCain’s invitation to join the ticket. It gets half a sentence (“I gave my speech”)....

The only event that receives an extended discussion is her resignation. It is important to her because as an act it reflects on her integrity, and she has to be sure (as she eventually was) that she was doing it for the right reasons.

Resigning was a moral act for which she was responsible. The vice-presidential candidacy just happened to her; her account of it reads like an extended “what-I-did-on-my summer-and fall-vacation” essay.

For many politicians, family life is sandwiched in between long hours in public service. Palin wants us to know that for her it is the reverse. Political success is an accident that says nothing about you. Success as a wife, mother and citizen says everything...

I find the voice undeniably authentic...It is the voice of small-town America, with its folk wisdom, regional pride, common sense, distrust of rhetoric (itself a rhetorical trope), love of country and instinctive (not doctrinal) piety.

It says, here are some of the great things that have happened to me, but they are not what makes my life great and American. (“An American life is an extraordinary life.”) It says, don’t you agree with me that family, freedom and the beauties of nature are what sustain us?

And it also says, vote for me next time. For it is the voice of a politician, of the little girl who thought she could fly, tried it, scraped her knees, dusted herself off and “kept walking.”

In the end, perseverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into defeatism, is the key to Palin’s character. It’s what makes her run in both senses of the word and it is no accident that the physical act of running is throughout the book the metaphor for joy and real life. Her handlers in the McCain campaign wouldn’t let her run (a mistake, I think, even at the level of photo-op), no doubt because they feared another opportunity to go “off script,” to “go rogue.”

But run she does (and falls, but so what?), and when it is all over and she has lost the vice presidency and resigned the governorship, she goes on a long run and rehearses in her mind the eventful year she has chronicled. And as she runs, she achieves equilibrium and hope: “We’ve been through amazing days, and really, there wasn’t one thing to complain about. I feel such freedom, such hope, such thankfulness for our country, a place where nothing is hopeless.”

The message is clear. America can’t be stopped. I can’t be stopped. I’ve stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again. Her political opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was elected, should take note. Wherever you are, you better watch out. Sarah Palin is coming to town.

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