Todd Russell's Reviews > The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin

The Rogue by Joe McGinniss
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Oct 04, 2011

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bookshelves: non-fiction, political-figures
Read from October 04 to 11, 2011

When I first heard Joe McGinniss was writing a book about Sarah Palin I was interested and intrigued. McGinniss penned one of my favorite true crime books: Fatal Vision. That book has passion and a gripping, irresistible narrative.

Maybe I'm in a small minority, but I didn't know McGinniss had rented the house next door to the Palin's in Alaska. That was the first of several things that bothered me in this book. At several points throughout the book, McGinniss paints himself as some friendly, benign new neighbor who would not dare breach Palin's privacy and yet he rents a house right next door? Something rang phony to me the third or fourth time I read this and despite not being a Sarah Palin fan, I felt sorry for her. I understand McGinniss wanting to get close to Palin to be able to write a book about her but I think it was a bit creepy, even if it was harmless. So +1 to Palin, -1 to McGinniss.

If the Palins are truly the bad people like portrayed in this book, I don't see how anybody can like these people? How was she elected by anybody in Alaska for anything? I live in a small town and don't see how she could have been elected mayor, much less go onto becoming the governor? Then again, I'm not sure how (the book offers an explanation) she got on the Vice President ticket either.

Lex Luthor seems more likable than the Palins in this book. The author is part of the narrative and story so he can't be an objective voice, so I don't know what can or can't be believed? From an entertainment standpoint, I gobbled this up, but was it all--or even most--credible? Hmm.

It doesn't help that there are only a few named sources. According to the author, a lot of sources (conveniently?) feared retaliation by the Palins so they didn't want to go on record or talk to McGinniss period.

Don't get me wrong, the book was a compelling, fast read.

The subject matter pained me in parts for the author and for those who know the Palins as portrayed in this book. I didn't care much for the author being part of the story. I understand why the author was but for me it seemed more like Joe McGinniss on the trail of The Rogue. It read like diary notes of a Palin stalker which is not what I think the author deserves (or truly was). I don't think McGinniss is the paparazzi, but this book reads like he is.

I felt a bit dirty when I reached the last chapter. Sort of like when waiting in the grocery line scanning the sensational rags. I know a lot of those stories aren't true and something about the stories in this book have a similar shallow ring. Guilty pleasure, I know, and right near the candy! I can't knock down the rating of the book for giving what I thought it might provide: entertainment.

It's the accident scene and, shamefully, I stopped and looked.

I won't spoil it for other readers but the last few pages provide an excellent summary for the rest of the book. The analogy the author used is spot on.

For those looking for a compassionate, objective book on Sara Palin? You will be sorely disappointed and should keep looking. For those wanting a more balanced, factual account of the biography of Sarah Palin that includes good, bad and indifferent? You'll get plenty of bad and indifferent here, but not very much good. For those looking for an entertaining, biased, disturbing look at the woman who could have been the Vice President? Come and get it.
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