Review: America by Heart by Sarah Palin

America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag by Sarah Palin – Harper – Novel: Contemporary, Non-Fiction – Buy it here – Our rating: One Pipe

Since the publication of her bestselling memoir, Going Rogue, in 2009, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has traveled the country extensively. She has visited cities and towns in almost every state, dropped in on military bases, given talks and speeches to small groups and at massive rallies. Throughout her travels, she has been privileged to meet thousands of Americans—ordinary men and women who have shared with her their hopes and dreams, their love of country, and their fears about what lies ahead. Governor Palin, inspired by these encounters, celebrates in her new book the enduring strengths and virtues that have made this country a beacon of liberty and hope for the rest of the world.

America by Heart is a highly personal testament to her deep love of country, her strong roots in faith, and her profound appreciation of family. Ranging widely over American history, culture, and current affairs, Governor Palin reflects on the key values that have been such an essential part of her own life and that continue to inform her vision of America’s future. The book also includes brief readings from classic and contemporary texts that have moved and inspired her, as well as portraits of Americans, both famous and obscure, whom she admires.

Informed by Palin’s own principles and deepest feelings, graced with intimate memories, this remarkable book gives us a close-up view of an extraordinary woman who is not afraid to speak out and defend the American values in which she so deeply believes.

I did not expect to be viciously attacked for my political beliefs when I read Palin’s reflections on “Family, Faith, and Flag,” but I certainly was. In fact, the entirety of Palin’s introduction is an entirely misguided, misinformed, and logically flawed assault against American democrats (lumped in with communists, pages 5-6), American college graduates (called the “cultural elite”), and, in general, Americans who don’t agree with her/her party’s policies (called “unpatriotic,” page 23, as well as a bunch of other nasty stuff).

Even though I was insulted by her rude, anti anyone-but-a-Republican remarks, I made myself read them so that I could know what she thought. I wouldn’t let myself review this book unless I did. Because I believe in being respectful to people in all my dealings with them, in this review I’m not going to angrily rant about Republicans, or people who believe differently than I do, like Palin rather disrespectfully ranted about liberals in her America.

Instead, I’m going to mention a little piece of America that Palin and I have in common: the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Division, which is the division that encompasses both Hawaii and Alaska. Her son and someone I am very close to are in the same division. Both served their country in Iraq, and you can bet that our feelings for them influence how we see our country and our world (in fact, that’s the subject of the second chapter of Palin’s book, called “Why They Serve.”) So you could say that although Palin and I are an ocean apart in more ways than one, we’re actually closer than we might think.

With that sentiment in mind, I finished the book more easily, and I felt like I grew a little as a person. Palin and I have very different ideas and she was rather offensive, but I think it’s good for everyone to put themselves in another person’s shoes, so if you’re liberal, I would recommend that you read this book. It will strengthen your arguments by giving you an understanding of your opponent, and it might instill some valuable empathy in you like it instilled in me. If you’re conservative, I’m going to find another book to feature on the blog that will similarly challenge you, but you’d probably enjoy reading anything by Palin anyway.

In regards to the book’s construction, America by Heart was difficult to follow, probably because Palin puts all of her ideas (and she has lots of different ideas) about a single topic in one chapter, and presents them with very little organization, like someone might if they were having a conversation. Although the rest of the book referenced liberals less, and was therefore less rudely written, Palin’s offensive diction and her narrative problems made me decide on her one pipe rating.

– Kristen


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