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What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism

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4.31  ·  Rating details ·  4,196 ratings  ·  699 reviews
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“I find myself thinking deeply about what it means to love America, as I surely do.” —Dan Rather


At a moment of crisis over our national identity, venerated journalist Dan Rather has emerged as a voice of reason and integrity, reflecting on—and writing passionately about—what it means to be an American. Now, with this collection of orig
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Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Algonquin Books
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Cheri
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Anthem – Leonard Cohen

” Unchecked nationalism leads to conflict and war. Unbridled patriotism can lead to the betterment of society. Patriotism is rooted in humility. Nationalism is rooted in arrogance.”

“Patriotism—active, constructive patriotism—takes work. It takes knowledge, engagement with those who are different from you, and fairness in law and oppo
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Diane S ☔
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have watched this amazing man, journalist from my television set for many years. This man who had traveled extensively, seen much, reporting to the world what he has experienced. A man I deeply respect. Even though this was not an audio book I could imagine his voice reading his words. For me this was an amazing book, a book that covers so much, that put so eloquently the thoughts I have had since our election, more ably than I could.

He explains how far our country has come, where we have been
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Steve Sarner
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are approximately 245 million adults in the United States. I wish all of them would read this book.

And if you were born after, say 1985ish, I definitely recommend you read Rather’s stories. It illustrates that this country has been through a lot of rough times in the distant and recent past and has managed to press on.

Rather was on the front lines of some very turbulent history. His perspective provides reason and hope that we will get through this period too.

Steady.

(Thank you to Algonqui
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Amy
(I read this on July 4th for a postal book swap but could only post about it now.)

While I am weary, so weary, of politics, I can appreciate the power of Dan Rather's rationality. I specifically appreciated his differentiation between "patriotism" and "nationalism."

I like the commentary on the arts, on the placement of prominent, uncensored arts as the clearest indicator of a healthy and well-funded democracy. The arts, uncensored, alongside a truly free press can make an excellent democracy.

Stea
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Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
update 2020: I was looking though this book yesterday — what I’ve highlighted & pages I’ve dog-eared. If you need bit of comfort during this time, I highly recommend you pick this up.
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“I find myself thinking deeply about what it means to love America, as I surely do.” — What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, Dan Rather
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Hopeful. That’s what I felt after finish reading Dan Rather’s “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.” Hopeful that things will get better. Hopeful that we will prevai
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Amy
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dan Rather is a national treasure and a true patriot (not a nationalist, an important differentiation as he points out). I loved hearing about his childhood and landmark stories he covered like Watergate, but he does not go deep on these. I'll have to pick up Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News to get the juicy details!

The anecdotes in the book are organized by broad themes like "science is real!" and "art is important!" Unfortunately, there aren't really any strong calls to action or new idea
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Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Dan Rather’s What Unites Us is a book of consummate steadiness in a world rolling among considerable waves. As a child of the 1960s, it was Rather whose voice I heard during my childhood and early adulthood. We always turned on the television news after dinner, and his reporting skill and calm voice were right there. That he has remained active in his profession for so many decades, and continues to be a voice of reason just makes me like him more.

Rather never gives our elected officials a pass,
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Gary Moreau
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the often-hardscrabble world of the newsroom, Dan Rather has always stood out as a bit, well, sentimental. And he readily admits it: “Like so many, I love my country and its people. I do so with a sentimentality that may seem anachronistic in today’s more jaded world.”

The thing that has always made Rather such an American force, however, is that he comes by the sentimentality honestly. Whatever you conclude about the man after reading this book you will and must conclude that he is authentic.
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Donna
“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” – Alexis De Tocqueville

A couple of months ago I had the honor and pleasure of hearing Dan Rather speak here in our mutual hometown of Houston and I received a copy of this book at the event. I’ve long held Mr. Rather in high esteem, not only for his journalistic abilities, but for his rational, steady voice over the years during times of turbulence and uncertai
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Shannon Appelcline
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I just love Dan Rather's articles for News & Guts and for his own FB page. They're incisive, they're biting, they're honest. They're everything that news is supposed to be and has largely stopped being in the last generation. Thus, I was really looking forward to his book.

And, it's just OK. I really believe in his definition of patriotism and its constituent parts. I think he describes an American that I'd love to live in and that we could aspire to be.

But with all that said, I find this book du
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Elizabeth
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
I like Dan Rather but I didn't entirely like this book. It felt really uneven to me. Some chapters had way too much history for me and that is not a subject I enjoy. But other chapters felt much more personal and I loved them, like how he stood up with the Black people who didn't have the right to vote to show his support and how his family brought encyclopedias into the home to encourage reading and learning. While he addressed the fact that many of us are feeling ill at ease about the current ...more
Serena
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The thing I love most about Dan Rather, and there are a lot of things I love about him, is his ability to speak to a frightening, chaotic, distressing time in the history of our country, and leave you feeling calmed and soothed. And hopeful. Most importantly, hopeful. These are dark times in our country where we are being told that up is down, black is white, wrong is right. Dan speaks to it, and somehow, he calms your anxiety with his thoughtful, steady words on what it means to be an American- ...more
Chris S.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a compilation of stories. It has some fair anecdotes, but let's be honest, it's also an octogenarian journalist preaching about how things used to be worse/harder/darker/etc. It's definitely misrepresented as any kind of Ethics text, beyond the old trope of "If only people today would participate..."
jeremy
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i worry about how important norms of american life are being shattered, along with a unity of purpose. i see the chasms of entrenched partisanship, growing inequality on income and opportunity, and the lingering injustices around race, gender, and sexual orientation. i think of my children and my grandchildren. how will they and their generations answer the call?
among the titans of american journalism and reporting, dan rather looms large. with a career spanning six decades, rather embodies
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Peter Tillman
Speaking plainly, this is a terrible book. I didn't read much of it, but I'd forgotten who Dan Rather is (was), and why I dislike(d) him. The few pages I read are full of blather & empty platitudes, just like his bad TV "newscasts". If you, too, have forgotten him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Rat...
-- which is the episode that ended his CBS career. Rather credulously retailed some obviously fake news to make then-President GW Bush look bad, apparently without doing any due diligence, and t
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Laura Hoffman Brauman
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well-written collection of essays on the traditional values of our country -- voting, dissent, inclusion, responsibility (including science and public education), innovation, service, courage, audacity, and more. While Rather is clearly not a fan of our current administration, he focuses on the issues -- both challenges and opportunities -- facing America today and looks at how we have faced similar issues in the past. I particularly appreciated the distinction between patriotism and nationalism ...more
Julie Suzanne
This collection of wisdom was a Christmas present from my husband that hit the spot. I enjoyed meandering through the nostalgic reminiscences of Rather's childhood and life and the message he used them to convey. This is an overall positive and hopeful view of America, focusing on what supposedly unites us while I'm seeing an awful lot of what divides us, so it is refreshing reading. At times, I felt a bit skeptical about his Pollyanna view on things, but that is why I needed these words. My fav ...more
Leah K
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This is an absolutely amazing book. So well written and Dan Rather's thoughts were right on (at least in my opinion). Obviously when talking about politics, patriotism, etc - not everyone is going to agree. Rather is respectful on all sides. He doesn't name names (unless talking about an actual historical event), he doesn't drag anyone through the mud, he just tells it how it is. If I could have highlighted my favorite parts (alas, it's a library book), practically the whole book would have been ...more
Melissa
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
What a perfectly wonderful book that couldn’t be more timely. This is a collection of essays about what unites us as Americans, with examples pulled from his childhood, personal experiences, and years of reporting. I’ve missed the voices of brave and honest reporters speaking truth to power on many topics, Rather’s voice is one I’ve missed, and I didn’t even really see how much until I listened to this audiobook.
Karen Atwood
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible-books
A remarkable career. I enjoyed the history lessons and found his details of his memories extraordinary.
Stephen Henninger
I went into this book with a decent amount of excitement. I had heard Dan Rather talk about the book and the topics discussed and was hoping to read specifics on what he views unites the country and how we get there. Yet, what I ended up reading was Dan Rather waxing on his life and the stories he covered with loose connections to what unites us. While they were interesting anecdotes, I was hoping for more; a call to unite and a manifesto on what it means to be patriotic in modern United States ...more
Ethan
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump seemed to usher in a new era of division amongst the American people. President Trump has become known for his unfiltered, off-the-cuff remarks that leave many within the country feeling alienated and offended. Our country has always featured differing ideas and been the better for it, but now it seems like there are is only my side and your side. We seem to have lost the in between space. At a point in history where Americans seem more divided than ...more
Joshua
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dan Rather writes patriotically in a way that does not leave the reader with a feeling of indigestion. It's a tragedy that that sentence needs be written at the start of a review, but the sentiment remains true. A great many pundits an would-be television personalities get paid lots of money to write about "America" and what is right or wrong about it depending on their right or left perspective, and the end result is that any and all discussion of politics becomes fraught with the nasty partisa ...more
Rosemarie Donzanti
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Written by Dan Rather, this book is wonderfully engaging. Each chapter contains his thoughts on a variety of topics. These include Patriotism, Empathy, Dissent, The Press, Books, Science, The Arts, Audacity, Courage, and so much more. He draws on his knowlege of history, his experiences growing up in Houston in the 1940’s, and his exposure and insights as a reporter for decades. He thoughtfully builds a case for the resiliency of this nation and how even the darkest of times have lead to positiv ...more
Jacob Vahle
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dan Rather shares his personal stories and observations in a way that is vulnerable and constructive - his form of patriotism is honest and sincere. The book is an encouraging challenge. I've been drawn to books like Rather's, Meachem's, and McCullough's lately in an attempt to battle cynicism about our current political climate and instead find purpose in it, and Rather's book was just what I needed.
Melissa
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“When we live in a self-selected bubble of friends, neighbors and colleagues, it’s too easy to forget how important it is to try to walk in the shoes of others.”

To put it simply, a very important read covering where we’ve been, where we are, and where we have the potential to go if we can get out of our own way.

4.5 stars
Stephanie
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dan Rather is a national treasure. I am grateful for his thoughtful optimism. As he would say, “Steady”. What a wonderful mantra to repeat during these times.
Kim Clifton
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always had a great admiration for journalists-- it seems like the closer someone is to a story, the better they understand it-- and Rather proves that a lifetime of that work builds knowledge, perspective, and empathy. He writes with the same passionate, but measured commentary as on Facebook, but here pointing to a single thesis-- that our country's core values that are in danger of being (or already are) politicized, but shouldn't be. So many chapters perfectly defended our nation's ide ...more
Richard Hartwell
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dan Rather's new book, What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism (co-authored with Elliot Kirschner), is an extraordinary reflection on what is right (and wrong) with modern America. These are his personal reflections on the state of our political experiment, tempered by decades of observation, investigation and reportage. These essays should be read by every high school student in History, Civics or Government classes. My copy of this book will be shared far and wide and I can only hope that it ...more
Kathrin
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
„It is important not to confuse “patriotism” with “nationalism.” As I define it, nationalism is a monologue in which you place your country in a position of moral and cultural supremacy over others.“

Recently any criticism voiced about the USA is being deemed unpatriotic. Rather’s book shows criticism and patriotism is not mutually exclusive. He touches all pillars of society and provides historical background. I also feel like he tries his hardest to stay objective.
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With a famed and storied career that has spanned more than six decades, Dan Rather has earned his place as one of the world’s best-known journalists. He has interviewed every president since Eisenhower and, over that time, personally covered almost every important dateline in the United States and around the world. Rather joined CBS News in 1962. He quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1981 he a ...more

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“It is important not to confuse “patriotism” with “nationalism.” As I define it, nationalism is a monologue in which you place your country in a position of moral and cultural supremacy over others. Patriotism, while deeply personal, is a dialogue with your fellow citizens, and a larger world, about not only what you love about your country but also how it can be improved.” 22 likes
“We are a nation not only of dreamers, but also of fixers. We have looked at our land and people, and said, time and time again, "This is not good enough; we can be better.” 9 likes
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