What Unites Us by Dan Rather

What Unites Us: Reflections on PatriotismWhat Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this humblebrag Rather relates the lessons he has learned from his upbringing in rural Texas through his lengthy career as a network news reporter and anchor. Much, nearly all, in fact, is stuff on which virtually everyone can agree: we should work together as a nation and as fellow citizens (“Why can’t we all just get along”), war is hell, there are many people in this country and everywhere who are very poor, very sick, or otherwise have been dealt a bad hand in life, etc.

I don’t take issue with these self-evident truths, but I find Rather’s delivery of them to be grating and unnecessary. If he had the cult following of Donald Trump or some fundamentalist preacher, say, perhaps it would do some good for him to put out a book with these sentiments. He might actually persuade some people. Instead, he just comes across as preachy and self-promoting. This is particularly futile because he also comes across as not that bright. He talks with pride about having attended an obscure Texas teachers’ college and being bad at science. He may find these traits endearing to the public but it serves only to undermine one’s confidence in what he has to say. I listened to the audiobook, which he narrates, and he often mispronounces words, just as he used to do as the CBS anchor. At least we are spared the cutesie Texas homilies he used to scatter in those broadcasts. In the end, though, it’s a quick read or listen and the content is probably worth being reminded of from time to time even if there’s nothing profound in it.

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