I have to admit that I like to find small typos, spacing mistakes or the occasional ink blot in books that I buy. It’s one of those small things in life that I love to savor. Perhaps because it helps me to demystify the whole book publishing process. But Sarah Palin’s recent “mistake” in her new book, Going Rogue: An American Life, really made my day. It proves that anyone, really just anyone with money and an online database of inspiring quotes can publish a book. The opening quote for Chapter 3 of the book, titled “Drill, Baby, Drill,” gives credit to UCLA’s basketball coach, John Wooden, for saying:
“Our land is everything to us…I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it – with their lives.”
But UCLA’s John Wooden wasn’t the wise thinker behind this quote. It’s actually from an essay written by Cheyenne Native activist John Wooden Legs in the radical anthology We are the people: voices from the other side of American history. Wooden Legs said this as he reflected on the Indian Bureau forcing Cheyenne natives to bid on their own northern territories against a white bidder who eventually bought the land from the Bureau for $22,485 in 1955. How did John Wooden, a Bruins’ basketball coach sponsored by McDonald’s, get credit for a quote calling for radical land redistribution to its original peoples? How did this get past the journalists who helped Palin write the book? Were the fact checkers at HarperCollins on one? I may not need to point out the irony of crediting a corporate-sponsored UCLA basketball coach for a quote that’s calling for Native land reownership as the lead for a chapter titled “Drill, Baby, Drill” written by a woman who couldn’t care less about Natives. But there it is. I suppose the mystery behind book publishing ceases to disappear with Palin’s Going Rogue.