Going Rogue

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Going Rogue: An American Life
Author Sarah Palin with Lynn Vincent, editor Adam Bellow
Cover artist Photo: John Keatley, Design: Archie Ferguson
Country United States
Language English
Subject Politics, Alaska
Genre Autobiography, memoir
Publisher Harper and Zondervan
Publication date
November 17, 2009 (Hardcover)
August 24, 2010 (Paperback)
Media type Hardcover and paperback, also available in audio and e-book versions
Pages 432 (Hardcover); 448 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-06-193989-1 (Hardcover); 9780061939907 (Paperback)
OCLC 441761706
Followed by America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag

Going Rogue: An American Life is a personal and political memoir of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican candidate for U.S. Vice President. The book became a New York Times #1 bestseller in its first week of release, and remained there for six weeks.[1] It is one of four recent political memoirs to sell more than two million copies.[2]

Writing process[edit]

The book deal was announced in May 2009 when Palin was still Governor of Alaska, with Palin stating that she wanted the public to hear her true story, "unrestrained and unfiltered".[3] She reportedly received an advance of $1.25 million[4] from the publisher, Harper Collins, with two projected additional payouts of between $2.5 million and $5 million each.[5]

Palin announced that although she would have a ghostwriter to help, she would be doing a lot of the writing herself, employing her journalism skills and the personal diaries and notes that she had kept throughout her life.[3] Nonetheless, critics questioned whether Palin could write a book.[6]

Responding to concerns that writing and promoting the book would interfere with her duties as governor, Palin stated she would only work on the book after hours and would promote the book "schedule permitting".[3] The Alaska law department issued a legal opinion which okayed the project, stating: "A book publication project is compatible with your position as governor so long as it does not interfere with your official duties."[3]

Conservative journalist and author Lynn Vincent worked on the book with Palin for several weeks shortly after she resigned the governorship in the summer of 2009. Palin then met with HarperCollins editors for intensive editing sessions in New York City. HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham said that Palin had been "unbelievably conscientious and hands-on at every stage", adding that the book was "her words, her life ... in full and fascinating detail."[7] HarperCollins had planned publication for spring 2010, but later moved the date to November 17, 2009, as the book was completed earlier than expected.[7] The publisher attributed the speed with which the memoir was written to Palin devoting full-time to the writing process after she left office.[8] A paperback version of the book, with new material, released on August 24, 2010.[9] Palin released a second book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, on November 23, 2010.[10]

Summary and themes[edit]

The first part of the book is devoted to Palin's experiences before the campaign; the second part details her life as a candidate for national office.[11] The book is written in a personal tone similar to Palin's manner of speaking. Palin discusses the disagreements she had with running mate John McCain's campaign advisers, criticizes the national media, and talks about the importance of religion and family life.[12]

The "Going Rogue" part of the title refers to criticism leveled at Palin by McCain campaign advisers that she was straying from their carefully crafted message[11] and publicly disagreeing with McCain on several issues.[13] The subtitle, "An American Life", mirrors the title of President Ronald Reagan's 1990 autobiography.[14]

Commercial and critical reception[edit]

The book was available for pre-order between $9 and $10 during a price war amongst online retailers Amazon, Target.com, and Walmart.com.[15] Dan Calabrese, writing in the North Star National, called the sales "an absolutely unprecedented performance for a non-fiction book so far in advance of its release date."[16]

Less than two weeks after its release, sales of the book exceeded the one million mark, putting it in a class with memoirs by Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.[2][17][18] The print run was extended to 2.8 million copies from 1.5 million.[2] Going Rogue attained sales of over 2.7 million by December 1, 2009,[19] and was number one on The New York Times Best Seller list for six consecutive weeks.[20] As of January 21, 2010, it was #4 on the New York Times best seller list after 9 weeks in the Top 10.[21]

According to campaign records, late in 2009, Palin used $63,000 of donations from SarahPAC, her political action committee, to purchase copies of her own book, Going Rogue. The expenditures were listed as, "books for fundraising donor fulfillment." Meghan Stapleton, Palin's spokeswoman, stated the purchased books were autographed and awarded to donors contributing more than $100 to Palin's PAC.[22]

Analysis and reactions[edit]

A team of eleven reporters for the Associated Press challenged some of Palin's statements as factually incorrect, such as her assertions that she traveled frugally, avoided large campaign donors, was against the Wall Street bailouts of 2008, and entered politics for purely altruistic reasons. Their analysis concluded by speculating that the book was "a pre-campaign manifesto".[23] According to Fox News, an AP spokesman "confirmed 11 people worked on the story . . . but refused to say if similar number of journalists were assigned to review other political books, or if Palin has been treated differently."[24] Fox also reported "The (AP) organization did not review for accuracy recent books by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-Sen. Joe Biden, either book by Barack Obama released before he was president or autobiographies by Bill or Hillary Clinton."[24] The Huffington Post followed with an article titled "The First Ten Lies from Going Rogue", including the failure to credit ghostwriter Vincent on the cover, Palin's statement about legal bills she incurred relating to ethics complaints without disclosing that most of the bills resulted from complaints she herself filed as a tactic in connection with Troopergate, and her assertion that she had to pay $50,000 in fees to be vetted by the McCain campaign.[25]

Palin replied to these criticisms by stating: "as is expected, the AP and a number of subsequent media outlets are erroneously reporting the contents of the book."[26] Conservative talk show host John Ziegler objected to the AP piece, saying that the AP is extremely biased and "badly missing the most important points of Sarah Palin's book".[27]

Former McCain campaign aides "hit back", according to Politico, "calling the former vice presidential nominee's soon-to-be released book 'revisionist and self serving' 'fiction'."[28] Palin's mention of a willingness to have coffee with Hillary Clinton[29] elicited a positive response from Clinton, who said she would "absolutely look forward" to it, and that it would be "very interesting".[30] A representative for Katie Couric responded to the book's assertion that Couric had badgered Palin during their infamous 2008 interview by saying, "The interview speaks for itself."[31]

The editors of the progressive magazine The Nation compiled a collection of short essays highly critical of Palin, giving it a satirical title and a cover very similar to Palin's book.[32] The paperback, variously described as a faux-memoir and a political counterpoint,[33][34] was released on the same day as Palin’s book and is titled Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare.[32][35]


The book drew a variety of reviews.

Positive reviews

Conservative radio talk show host John Ziegler[36] praised Going Rogue as "the best book and greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime" and as showing honesty "the type of which can only come from someone incredibly courageous, grounded, and self-aware."[37] Republican radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the book "truly one of the more substantive policy books I've read."[38] Stanley Fish, writing for The New York Times Opinionator blog, explained that "while I wouldn’t count myself a fan in the sense of being a supporter, I found [the book] compelling and very well done."[39]

Mixed reviews

The Wall Street Journal's Melanie Kirkpatrick described the book as "more a personal memoir than a political one," which demonstrated that Palin "is not the prejudiced, dim-witted ideologue of the popular liberal imagination." However, Kirkpatrick criticized the book as "too gentle" on the McCain campaign staffers and McCain himself, and as spending too little time discussing political issues.[11] Critic Michiko Kakutani, writing for the New York Times, characterized Going Rogue as "part earnest autobiography, part payback hit job," noting that it was more critical of the McCain campaign than it was of Democrats. Kakutani credited the book with doing a "lively job of conveying the frontier feel of the 49th state."[40] Matthew Continetti observed that Palin's book was "everything you'd expect from a politician who has no intention of leaving the national scene."[41] Entertainment Weekly gave the book a C, praising the first chapters about Palin's life as "down-to-earth and funny" while concluding that the rest of the memoir was mediocre and self-serving.[42]

Negative reviews

Jack Kenny for The New American took the book to task for being light on policy content: "Do I know any more about Sarah Palin’s political ambitions or core beliefs at the end of the book than I did at the beginning? Aside from a few vague hints of something deeper, the answer is 'no'."[43] Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press said the book was "less the revealing autobiography of a straight-shooting maverick and more a lengthy campaign speech — more lipstick, less pit bull." Like other reviewers, Kennedy felt "Palin reserves most of her attacks for McCain's advisers."[44] In its review, the Huffington Post described the book as "one giant complaint about the conduct of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign."[45] Michael Carey of the Anchorage Daily News said "there is a big something missing from Palin's narrative: the voice of a leader."[46] Thomas Frank, writing for the Wall Street Journal, panned the book: "This is the memoir as prolonged, keening wail, larded with petty vindictiveness."[47] Newsweek senior editor Michael Hirsh said that "she seems to be mainly out for repudiation of her critics here, and what you see is a lot of self-involvement" and that the book would "help her with her base...I don't know if it helps at all with what she would need to actually be elected president."[48]

Book tour[edit]

Palin was interviewed in rapid succession by Oprah Winfrey,[49] Barbara Walters, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, with the US News speculating that the interviews and book tour would be "strewn with land mines".[49][50] Palin then began a three-week national book tour that focused on small and mid-size towns[51] with 11 of the states she visited considered political battle-grounds for 2012.[52] Large crowds turned out to greet Palin and get their books autographed with Palin spending as long as three hours at some venues.[53][54] Media attention focused on one incident in Indiana where a small crowd of approximately 300 people who had waited in line for hours booed when Palin left before autographing their books. Palin quickly apologized for the incident on her Facebook page.[55] ABC News characterized her bus book tour as "extraordinarily successful" but suggested she might be criticized for taking a private jet provided by the publisher for long legs of the journey.[19]

In addition to the book tour, a web-based campaign directed ads for the book to people searching for Palin's name on Google. Palin also utilized her Facebook page, (accessible to non subscribers), to promote her book.[51]


Going Rogue has inspired a number of parodies and satirical interpretations. Roy Edroso of the Village Voice "reviewed" the book by writing fake excerpts.[56] TA Frank of The Guardian similarly parodied the contents with a faux first draft complete with fake notes between Palin and her editors.[57] Cartoonist Julie Sigwart and radio host Michael Stinson released a 48-page spoof Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book on the same day that Palin's Going Rogue appeared on the shelves.[58] South Park featured a parody of the book called, Going Rogue on the Smurfs.[59] The website http://goingrogueindex.com leads to a proper-name index for Going Rogue (which was published without one)[60] that features satirical trappings such as a photo collage of several historical figures quoted in the book and an embedded German song that translates to "Madonna in Hell."[61]

The book Going Rouge: Sarah Palin, An American Nightmare, was a collection of essays compiled by The Nation criticizing Palin that was not in itself intended as parody. However, the cover image was a parody of Palin's book, and was nearly identical. This resulted in news sources, including CNN and Fox News, confusing The Nation's book with Palin's.

References in popular culture[edit]

The book and its surrounding promotion have been mentioned on late night comedy shows, including Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[62] David Letterman had a recurring segment, "Things More Enjoyable than Reading the Sarah Palin Memoir", including such things as "getting run over by a lawnmower" and "driving into a tree".[63] On December 11, 2009, William Shatner read excerpts from the book on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien followed by Palin reading excerpts from Shatner's autobiography, Up Till Now.[64]


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  12. ^ Palin did not include an index at the back of the book. Indexes are standard fare in political books because "in Washington the real-life characters included in such books appreciate the ability to quickly check the back to find out where they're mentioned". Kehe, Marjorie (2009-11-12). "A sneak preview of Going Rogue". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2009-11-20.  WebCite archive
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External links[edit]