It would be difficult to argue against the idea that when it comes to the modern world, Dan Rather has had an up close and personal look at whichever topic you want to discuss, from virtually every angle you can discuss it. Politics, war, peace, natural disaster, social and environmental engineering… he’s seen it all, and he’s reported it so the rest of us could see it too. His commitment to journalism began in 1950, and even though not a part of the network news system anymore, he still continues to report and offer the perspective of his years on social media.
This book is a collection of essays that began, as he puts it, in the quiet hours on late night airline flights, continuing into the present day. What’s here is one part news, one part history, one part memoir, one part editorial, and one part human understanding. The whole of it all is far greater than the sum of its parts. Rather’s perspectives on patriotism, in sharp contrast to — and in defiance of — fascism, are heartfelt and refreshing, the sort of thing we all need desperately to hear for ourselves right now. How his perspectives were seeded and developed… that’s in the book. These perspectives inform every other topic in the book. These topics range from the vote, the press, empathy, immigration, science and the arts, and books, to the environment, public education, service, and the study of character.
Rather tells how his experience was developed growing up, how hot button issues of today came into his consciousness and into the larger social consciousness, and in many cases how these were bipartisan issues before they became lines of division.
The end goal of this book is to help America heal by helping us to uncover and reclaim the idea of citizenship through responsibility and compassion. For my part, I found myself disagreeing with almost nothing in this book. What I did disagree with was minor, more a case of degree than contradiction, and I couldn’t help but respect his insights all around.
My understanding is that the topics and opinions in the book are Rather’s, with the elegant spit and polish on the writing itself by Elliot Kirschner. The audiobook is narrated by Rather, adding that extra layer of directness and professional polish that I’ve come to associate with him over the course of my lifetime.
This book needs to be read. More than that, it needs to be absorbed, considered, and discussed wherever possible, in any forum, at every level. This is the sort of thing that you just won’t get from a politician’s memoirs. It’s a quick read. The wisdom offered here is timeless.