Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin

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9781439187586: Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin
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A FASCINATING INSIDE LOOK AT ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN WOMEN IN AMERICAN POLITICS AS WE HAVE NEVER BEFORE SEEN HER

She’s a real-life American success story. Alaska’s youngest governor . . . and the first woman. A small-town girl who wasn’t content to keep things small.

People
magazine assistant editor Lorenzo Benet met with Sarah Palin and her family just weeks before the announcement that she would be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. In this groundbreaking biography, he shows us the real Sarah Palin—untouched by the cameras and the campaign trail. From her basketball games and beauty pageants as a young woman in Alaska, to her relationship with Todd and their family, to her controversies and triumphs in office, and culminating with the manic excitement of the 2008 election, its controversial aftermath, and the post-election birth of her grandson, Trailblazer is the definitive, uncensored portrait of this extraordinarily complex woman.

Features 8 pages of behind-the-scenes family and campaign photographs!

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About the Author:

Lorenzo Benet is an assistant editor at People magazine and the New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Lives of Danielle Steel: The Unauthorized Biography of Americas #1 Best-Selling Author; Scott Hamilton’s memoir, Landing It: My Life On and Off the Ice; and Star Parker’s Pimps, Whores And Welfare Brats: The Stunning Conservative Transformation of a Former Welfare Queen.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE
The Frontier Beckons

On the day the Beatles invaded the United States with their first live appearance in concert, in Washington, D.C., Sarah Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, the third of four children to Chuck and Sally Heath. The date was February 11, 1964, and she was greeted by a family of teachers and runners. Her father, Chuck, taught science and ran in the Boston Marathon. Her mother, Sally, caught the running bug, too, later competing in Anchorage 's Mayor's Marathon.

Sarah's mother, the former Sally Sheeran, was raised in Richland, Washington, part of the Tri-Cities area of southeast Washington State. Sally's parents, Clem and Helen Sheeran, had moved there from Salt Lake City in 1943, three years after Sally's birth. The United States was in the throes of World War II and in a race with Germany to develop the nuclear bomb. The Hanford Site in Washington, 60 miles up the Columbia River from Richland, was a centerpiece of the Manhattan Project, producing the plutonium needed to manufacture the weapon. Clem, a veteran IRS administrator, was recruited by Hanford as a labor relations manager for a workforce numbering in the thousands. Hanford scientists were at the forefront of their field, but the facility's woeful waste-disposal systems eventually left the site a toxic disaster. Today, the site is a decommissioned nuclear production complex. Shut down after the Cold War, it now is home to one of the largest environmental clean-ups in the country.

While the Washington-born Clem worked at Hanford, his Wisconsin-born wife, the former Helen Gower, was a doâ??it-all homemaker and whiz with the sewing machine, making clothes, window drapes, and furniture upholstery. They had six children in all, including Sally. The practical skills Sally learned from her mother were later passed on to her own children. "She taught me to be self-sufficient," Sarah told People magazine about her mother. A recreational swimmer and tennis player, Sally was a 1958 graduate of Columbia High School, which has since been renamed Richland High. From the start, the Sheerans were a family that valued hard work, education, religion, and community service. Helen volunteered at local nursing homes. Sarah Palin's late uncle, Pat Sheeran, received a doctorate from Gonzaga University and served as a District One judge. After the war, Clem returned to civilian life and went on to a career in arbitration, specializing in workplace issues. Clem and Helen were steadfast churchgoers and had all the Sheeran kids baptized as Catholics. Clem also introduced the kids to tennis, golf, and swimming. "My father was an athlete," Sarah's mother remembered. "I think he wished we all excelled at sports, but we had fun with it."

Sally Heath's Pacific Northwest childhood was never far from her heart, and she and her husband, Chuck Heath, made annual family trips back to Washington with their kids even after they moved to Alaska. Sally's sister, Katie Johnson, recalled an active, little, doe-eyed Sarah who loved to swim in a public pool across the street from her grandparents' house in Richland. "The girls and Chuck Jr. would come to Richland, and Mom and Dad would give them pool passes and they'd stay there all day; that was a big deal for a kid from Alaska," Katie said. When Sarah attended college in Idaho in the mid-1980s, Richland was her second home. During school holidays, Sarah and Chuck Jr., who was also attending college in Idaho, made the 150-mile trek from Moscow, where they were enrolled at the University of Idaho. "Everything she 's ever done she 's excelled at," said Sarah's uncle, Ron Jones.

The trait of excellence ran on both sides of the family. Sarah's father, Charles R. Heath, who went by Chuck to his friends, was born in March 1938 in Los Angeles to a sports photographer father, Charlie, and a schoolteacher mother, the former Nellie "Marie" Brandt. His father photographed many of the legendary fighters and wrestlers of the day and even entertained many of the greats at their Los Angeles home.

"My mother taught school in North Hollywood, and Dad covered boxing and wrestling matches at the Olympic Auditorium. I have pictures of me with boxers Joe Louis and James J. Jeffries," said Heath. "One of my earliest memories is finding a rat caught in a trap at the Olympic Auditorium." Decades later, Heath would work for Alaska's department of agriculture and develop an expertise for exterminating nuisance rat infestations devastating native bird populations.

His family moved to Hope, Idaho, in 1948 when Heath was ten. "My parents wanted to get away from L.A.," Chuck Heath said. "Mom came to Hope and taught school, and Dad worked as a freelance photographer and drove a school bus."

Heath's only sibling, a sister two years his senior named Carol, died of cancer at age forty-two.

The move to Hope, Idaho, exposed young Heath to the great outdoors, as he took up hunting and fishing. His father was so into fishing that he handcrafted lures and started a small lure company. Heath attended high school ten miles away in Sandpoint, where he earned his diploma in 1956 and played football under legendary high school coach Cotton Barlow. Heath, a running back, had the privilege of having his path through the defense cleared by Green Bay Packers legend Jerry Kramer. "He made me look good," Heath said. Kramer, a big Sarah Palin fan, said he was "hooked" by the Alaskan governor when her candidacy was announced. "How can I not like a girl from Sandpoint?"

But Kramer also knows what can happen when a quarterback enters a game too early in his career. After Sarah was selected to run with McCain, he predicted that she might get roughed up on the campaign trail. "She appeared from the bushes to save McCain, save the Republican Party, and save the world.... I'm just afraid they're putting too much of a burden on her," he said. "But you like her character and the qualities she brings."

On the job, Sarah often wears gold earrings in the shape of the state of Alaska, but Idaho claims her as one of its own. After high school, her father, Chuck, enrolled at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, a few miles from the Sheerans' Richland, Washington, home. He played football, studied science, and met his future wife, who was interested in a career as a dental assistant. "We were in a biology lab together, and Chuck picked me as his partner to do a blood test," Sally said. "He thought it would be fun to prick each other's fingers."

On their first date, they went to a drive-in movie, which Chuck paid for with a sock full of coins. "To this day he does not walk past a penny on the ground without picking it up," she said. "He is a great saver."

Katie recalled meeting Chuck for the first time after Sally brought him back to the Richland house to meet their parents. "I remember Sally bringing Chuck home on a date, and when he wasn't paying attention, she giggled, 'Isn't he cute?' " The introduction was a success. Clem, a football and basketball referee and an avid tennis player and golfer, approved of his daughter's choice. "Dad liked Chuck because Chuck was into sports," said Katie.

In 1959, the year President Eisenhower signed the declaration making Alaska the forty-ninth state of the Union, Chuck transferred to Eastern Washington University in Cheney to finish up his college degree. Sally followed, taking a job as a dental assistant in nearby Spokane. Before graduation, Chuck landed a teaching job back in Sandpoint and returned to work, finishing up his college degree at night school. In the summer of 1961, Chuck and Sally applied for a marriage license and wed at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Sandpoint. Sally gave birth to a quick succession of children -- Chuck Jr. arrived on February 7, 1962; Heather was born on January 28, 1963, followed by Sarah a year later. Their fourth child, Molly, was born two years after Sarah on November 26, 1966, after the family had relocated to Skagway, Alaska.

Old Sandpoint neighbor Loralee Gray, an artist, recalled the Heaths as a young and active family. Chuck coached basketball to ninth graders and spent his leisure time hunting and fishing with pal Bill Adams, a teacher whose wife befriended Sally, a stay-at-home mom.

"Chuck took me under his wing," Adams said. "I was a small-town kid from Montana, and [Chuck] said, 'We 're going to teach you the Idaho way.' "

But like his father before him, Chuck aspired to something greater for himself and his family. He was stretched financially with three new mouths to feed, and there was only one place that could satisfy his wanderlust and ambition -- the Alaskan frontier. By the time Sarah was born in February 1964, he had already mailed out job applications to cities throughout Alaska. "The call of the wild got to him," Adams said. In addition, he was lured by the forty-ninth state 's growing service industry. "We had a great little neighborhood there in Sandpoint," said Gray, who lived in the house behind the Heaths' rental home. "But schoolteachers in Idaho weren't making much. Wages were abysmal."

Not in Alaska. With the oil boom just around the bend, the state was recruiting good teachers from the Lower Forty-eight, and the pay difference was substantial. The region had another draw for the outdoorsman in Heath; it had the best hunting anywhere. "The talk was that it was the best place to go for that," said Katie. "He talked Sally into it by promising, 'Let's try it for one year and see what happens,' and they loved it."

Looking back, Sally reflected, "I didn't think it would be for forty-five years." She chuckled. "When I married him I knew I was in for an adventure and had to be ready for his crazy ideas."

Chuck was a popular science teacher and coach in Sandpoint, but the wilderness beckoned. "I applied all over Alaska but took the job in Skagway," he told the Anchorage Daily News in 2007. Undeterred by the colossal March 27, 1964, Anchorage earthquake that registered 8.4 on the Richter scale, Chuck wrapped up his teaching duties, packed up the family, and headed for the last frontier in June 1964. He drove the family station wagon alone to Bri...

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Book Description POCKET BOOKS, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A FASCINATING INSIDE LOOK AT ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN WOMEN IN AMERICAN POLITICS AS WE HAVE NEVER BEFORE SEEN HER She s a real-life American success story. Alaska s youngest governor . . . and the first woman. A small-town girl who wasn t content to keep things small. People magazine assistant editor Lorenzo Benet met with Sarah Palin and her family just weeks before the announcement that she would be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. In this groundbreaking biography, he shows us the real Sarah Palin--untouched by the cameras and the campaign trail. From her basketball games and beauty pageants as a young woman in Alaska, to her relationship with Todd and their family, to her controversies and triumphs in office, and culminating with the manic excitement of the 2008 election, its controversial aftermath, and the post-election birth of her grandson, Trailblazer is the definitive, uncensored portrait of this extraordinarily complex woman. Features 8 pages of behind-the-scenes family and campaign photographs!. Seller Inventory # BZV9781439187586

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