As a lifelong reader, I’ve found autobiographies among the most interesting and revealing books I’ve enjoyed over the years.
The writings of such unforgettable men and women as Thomas Edison, Mother Teresa, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Benjamin Franklin give fascinating glimpses into lives that have had a lasting impact on the world. Autobiography reveals history as it was lived by the strong, articulate leaders of earlier generations.
Unfortunately, my belief in the value of the autobiography underwent a serious blow recently. The cause was news of a new addition to that once prestigious bookshelf.
Published by William Morrow, the book was, supposedly, penned by Bristol Palin, 20-year-old daughter of former Alaska governor and vice presidential wannabe, Sarah Palin. Bristol’s autobiography is, “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far.”
According to press releases introducing the book, Palin candidly reveals how getting drunk on a camping trip with then boyfriend, Levi Johnston, resulted in a son, Tripp, now 2 years old.
She goes on to say she discovered Johnston, “cheated on me about as frequently as he sharpened his hockey skates.”
For a brief time, Palin and Johnston took a stab at convincing the public they were the perfect young couple, deeply in love and ready and willing to take responsibility for the child of that love. But, the relationship crumbled — not once but twice.
For his part, Johnston, who has made a number of poor decisions, is bent on making another in light of Palin’s book. His book — yes, he too is writing an autobiography — is projected for this fall. The tentative title? “Deer in Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs.”
As for the many other “fascinating” highlights of Bristol Palin’s book, fans will find a number of never- before-shared experiences, including a comprehensive discussion of the highs and lows of her appearance on the television show, “Dancing With the Stars.”
The publisher assures future readers of the value of Palin’s publication, stressing it is, “Plainspoken and disarmingly down to earth,” adding, “Bristol offers new insight and understanding of who she is and what she values most.”
After looking over the media frenzy created by Palin’s entry into authorship, I wondered what a 20-year-old could possibly offer on any deep convictions about the meaning of life, the importance of parenthood, the lessons she wants to teach her son.
Benjamin Franklin lived to be 84, Mother Teresa, 87, Albert Einstein, 76. There’s no doubt those folks had gathered a great deal of wisdom and experience along the way. And in their autobiographies, they generously shared those insights.
But, with the conviction that starting earlier is a better approach, Mama Bristol is probably training 2-year-old Tripp in the fine art of writing. By the time he gets to kindergarten, he’ll be ready for his own tell-all book. Then the whole Palin clan had better watch out.