Janet Donovan for Niteside
Douglas Brinkley wants you to know that Sarah Palin is not in the index of his new book, "The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom" because "she doesn't own Alaska."
The author/historian celebrated his official book launch fittingly at the Roosevelt House, former home of President Theodore Roosevelt, a wilderness preservationist and crusader.
Catherine Stevens and Douglas Brinkley
"[The book is] a story about how we have been able to save these incredible places ranging from glaciers to Mount McKinley to the Arctic," said Brinkley, "which has been a constant fight with the government to protect these heirlooms for our children."
William O’Douglas was a familiar name in the conversation so we asked Brinkley to explain that connection: "O'Douglas was one of FDR’s Supreme Court Justices who was a cutting edge environmentalist. Starting in the 1940s he grew up in Yakima, Washington very poor and fell in love with the Cascade Range and the whole western landscape."
After O'Douglas entered the Supreme Court, he began writing books about the American wilderness. "He was a progenitor of the whole [conservation] movement," Brinkley said. "He is the missing link between Theodore Roosevelt and the 1960s environmental movement. He was the baton really, that was passed from FDR to Lyndon Johnston."
Not to totally dismiss Sarah Palin, Brinkley wanted to be sure we knew that she does represent, though, a kind of attitude in Alaska -- one that is anti-Federal Government. He reminded us that Alaska was bought from Russia, which Palin of course can see from her window.
Brinkley went on to explain that there is a constant fight going on, and that "in some sense, Palin is promoting the 'drill, baby, drill' while the quiet world is 'save, save, save'."
As to what he does for fun, he told us: "I have three small children and so I bring them to see all these incredible American heirlooms. It's a family endeavor, so it’s a lot of fun."
Hunter Biden, Ben Barnes and Douglas Brinkley
When you talk about Alaska, though, Palin can’t be far away from curiosity -- so Niteside asked Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small (pictured, top) to weigh in on her experience covering the former governor of Alaska.
Newton-Small had dinner with the Palin family at Todd Palin's mother's home in Dillingham -- "with literally a population of 1000 in the summer and 200 in the winter," she said. Todd Palin's family owns a bed and breakfast there.
"You get her talking about Alaska and she’s really much like you see on the shows," said Newton-Small. "She’s very engaging and will talk and talk and talk.... but when you turn on the recorder for political questions, she got a little bit more leery, [although] I think she has become much more informed in the last year and has been reading more. Essentially, her whole second book was like a giant postcard to Katie Couric."
So what about Alaska itself? "It’s like going to the end of the Earth," said Newton-Small. "There aren’t even any landlines; there’s satellite or nothing else. And then, you are flying in these tiny planes where you can literally roll down the windows."