A bestselling author returns from “Palinland” with colorful stories, none flattering, about its most famous resident.
In 2010, to research this book, McGinniss (Never Enough, 2007, etc.) traveled to Alaska and moved in next door to the Palins on Lake Lucille in Wasilla. From this provocative perch he conducted a five-month search for the “real” Sarah Palin, collecting, it seems, every bit of gossip, rumor and innuendo that would expose “this clown in high heels.” No connection to scandal is too tenuous (the Palins were family friends of a soldier who pled guilty to the murder of three Afghan civilians), no offense too slight (Sarah once condescended to a physical therapist supporter who offered advice on health care), no flaw too minute (the ghostwriter for Going Rogue misquoted basketball coach John Wooden) for inclusion here. “God’s chosen candidate” is foul-mouthed at home and publicly vitriolic. McGinniss’ sources supply any number of anecdotes to fill in the portrait of Alaska’s youngest and only female governor as paranoid, vindictive, lazy, obsessive, incurious, intolerant and unlettered. Baffled by simple words like “notwithstanding” and “benign,” uninterested in the intricacies of policy and devoted far more to celebrity than service, Palin, as office-holder or candidate, has left a “trail of blood in her wake.” We learn that her marriage is a fraud and that the “self-proclaimed mama grizzly” can barely be bothered to care for her children, finding them useful only as political props. The kids are out of control, and one of them (the Down syndrome afflicted Trig) may not even be her own. In Going to Extremes (1980), McGinniss wrote wonderfully about Alaska. Here he goes to such extremes, employing a sledgehammer where a scalpel will do, that even confirmed Palin-haters or the two or three Americans who’ve yet to make up their minds about her will cry, “Hold, enough!”
Absolutely no dirt goes unstirred.