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Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service

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New York Times Bestseller: The moving, entertaining, never-before-told story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock 'n' roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose—or so it seemed. 

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary's career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community's embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary's realization that America's defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary's mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America's defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published February 12, 2019

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About the author

Gary Sinise

10 books175 followers
Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

in 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation's mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His "Lt. Dan Band" performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,116 reviews
Profile Image for PirateSteve.
90 reviews329 followers
May 14, 2021
An autobiography from Gary Sinise. Highlighting a childhood through teen years which led to he and a few friends creation of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Time spent in theatre leading to time spent in film. A career in film and the opportunity of being cast in a movie titled Forrest Gump, winner of 6 Academy Awards. In this movie Sinise plays the character of Lieutenant Dan Taylor and does so in an outstanding way.

Lieutenant Dan returns to the United States from the Vietnam War after having loss both legs in combat. He feels that he had rather died in battle than live with his disabilities. He sinks into alcoholism. By the end of the movie he has fought through his anguish and lives a productive, happy life. The real United States military veterans relate to Lieutenant Dan's plight with an affirming embrace. Someone has finally listened to their story and gotten it right. The rest of America understands a little better. Gary Sinise is overwhelmed at how our veterans have embraced him as Lt. Dan. He is overwhelmed at the veterans appreciation of his portrayal of Lt.Dan. To give back to our veterans Mr.Sinise forms a band to play U.S.O. tours around the world. They name it The Lt.Dan Band. Sinise is overwhelmed still again as even more appreciation is shone his way by our military and America as a whole. Mr.Sinise looks for more he can do for our veterans.

In 2011 The Gary Sinise Foundation was formed with the mission to serve and honor America's defenders. Each year the foundation raises over $30 million which it uses to benefit military veterans, including building smart homes for those who are disabled. This is something the United States should have already been doing but I thank you Gary Sinise for stepping up to the cause.

“There’s a message I want to deliver in this book: I love my country and I’m grateful to be an American. I know where my freedom comes from, and I do not take for granted the sacrifices of those who provide it. Because of that, I want to do all I can to ensure America’s defenders and their families are never forgotten.”
― Gary Sinise

To all those actively serving in the military now .... I Thank You.
To all those that have served our military cause in the past .... I Thank you.
To the families of those who serve ... I thank for your sacrifice.

Video of lots of people thanking Gary Sinise

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,923 reviews35.4k followers
August 30, 2019
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!
It rates in my TOP FIVE FAVORITE *****Audiobooks*****🎧
Gary Sinise is our author and voice narrator.


Big Thanks to my awesome local friend, *Margie* for telling me how ‘good’ this book is!!! Ya-darn-tootin-It-is!!!!

Now to have a little fun with this review.....
......something similar that I did with “The Martian”, by Andy Weir
I HIGHLIGHTED PREVIOUS REVIEWS....in other words I reviewed other readers reviews. In “The Martian”.... I included names and comments from the GoodReads community.

Here we go again.....
.....On Amazon there are “932 reviews. 90% are 5 star reviews”.
.....On Goodreads there are 2,072 rating, 581 reviews with a 4.43 overall rating

Readers before me have said things that I can’t say better:
.....DOUGLAS said.....”It’s ALL-ENCOMPASSING....in the life of Gary Sinise and how he arrived at this point in life.
.....Humble beginnings....humble man...A MAN WHO NEVER FORGOT WHERE HE CAME FROM
.....C Wm said.....”There is much that resonates within”
.....CATHERINE said....”I don’t usually read biographies, but I knew this was much more than the average biography. It is entertaining and funny at times. Then it is serious and heartbreaking at other times. But what struck me the most is the quiet spirituality that carries you along”.
.....CMcE said... it’s honest, raw, inspiring
.....Nick said...”As someone from Chicago, you’re familiar with Gary Sinise and his start with Steppenwolf Theater and how he went from Lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump to being on CSI: New York as a career arc of a local man who has done good work in his life. But as his statue in the acting world has grown, so has his desire to do great work and help others”.
.....JAN said....A MUST READ. His honest and sincere story of his life will make you laugh and cry. I knew he worked with our military and veterans, but I didn’t realize it extended to first responders and their families also.
JANICE said.... this is a wonderful story told in a friendly and down-to-earth way.

I could go on and on and on.... just sharing how inspired I am to connect with other readers who felt strongly about this book as I did....

But....most I want to HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone....
It’s powerful, honest, informative, about an incredible tireless advocate for first responders and our military...a husband, father, friend, dedicated worker with life purpose.
Gary is so easy to love. His storytelling about his life and things he has accomplished are astounding! His mistakes are human.

You’ll learn about what happened in Gary’s life after 911. His life purposed changed from focusing on himself to honoring our veterans, first responders, active military members and their families.
You’ll learn about his wife and kids...other people he worked with - stories from when he was an outsider, moving from school to school...
a kid with curly hair. ( he wanted hair like the Beachboys)...and his childhood struggles.
Gary loved sports and music - but wasn’t a natural born gifted student.

The 60’s were hard years for families and our country. Life wasn’t a picnic for Gary either. He knew he was headed down a bad path ....drugs- lying stealing....with a D average in school.
But like Pinocchio, Gary began to turn his life around after he came forward ... told the truth .... stepped forward... went to the police station to confess his crime. It’s an hilarious story, really.

The WEDDING & WEDDING NIGHT for Gary & his wife ( still married and in love for 40 + years - with 3 children)....is FUNNY & HEART WARMING! Absolutely a priceless story.
Gary spent $1.65 total for two plastic rings that he bought at Woolworth’s to get married later that day. The rings turned their fingers green...tossed them away in time. A few friends join at their wedding in front of a judge...who put on a cassette tape of Karen Carpenter singing
“We’ve Only Just Begun”.
YEP......Gary’s life —with his wonderful wife —had ‘seriously’ just begun!

Many readers will be laughing and crying at the same time. I raise my hand! Me! Me! Me!.....yep: guilty as charged… I laughed and I cried!

This Audiobook is a reader’s gift.
Anyone who enjoyed listening to “Becoming” by Michelle Obama....are sure to melt into this Audiobook in much the same way.

As others have said to Gary... I must add my thanks of gratitude also.
THANK YOU, Gary for the difference you have made for veterans, first responders, and their families.
I also want to thank you for being the type of actor who makes a difference in the rolls you play......and for all your contributions you made for community theater, and movies.
And thank you for this absolutely marvelous book.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 12 books147 followers
January 25, 2019
I expected to enjoy this book, and was excited to join the launch team and get to read an advance copy. I didn't expect it to make me laugh AND cry, sometimes within the same page. I didn't expect it to touch my heart.

In simple, direct, honest words, Gary Sinise lays out his life story. How he grew up in Chicago, a wild, rudderless teen who found direction and purpose in high school theater classes. How he and a bunch of friends started the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, now one of the most-respected theatre groups in the country, but originally a bunch of actor pals practicing their craft in a basement. How he dabbled in alcohol and drugs in the '70s, and drifted through his personal life even while his professional life gained momentum. And how he eventually found meaning by coming to faith in God and joining the Catholic church, and by finding ways to aid and support military personnel, first-responders, and their families.

Intertwined throughout the book is Sinise's lifelong respect for those who put their lives on the line to defend others. The military, police, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are often taken for granted in the United States, and Sinise insists we need to change that. He's made it his mission to let them hear his gratitude loud and clear, to know that they are not forgotten or taken for granted.

I'm not in the military, nor is my husband. But I have an uncle who served in Vietnam, two cousins who were/are in the Air Force, and some great uncles who served in WWII (one even hit Omaha Beach during the D-DAY invasion). I also have friends in the military, and many members of our congregation are active duty or retired military. And I've realized that I almost never thank them for their courage and sacrifices and willingness to preserve our freedom. I'm not sure yet how I can do that, but thanks to this book, I'm starting to look for ways. I used to send care packages to some friends and relatives when they were deployed overseas, but no one I know personally is deployed right now. Still, even if it's sending an encouraging note to a friend whose husband is deployed, or inviting another friend and her kids over for a meal when her husband is away at training, I'm sure that I, like Gary Sinise, can "do a little more" (p. 260).
Profile Image for Caran Walker.
63 reviews
February 13, 2019
I was blessed to be chosen to receive an advanced reader's copy. I do not want to include any spoilers, but Mr. Sinise makes an impact in the Veteran and First Responder community like no other and as his story unfolds, he talks about the work it took for this action to come to fruition. He shares stories of Veteran's and First Responder's he has helped through the years and discusses trips to combat zones in support of the troops. The book was well-written, thought provoking, and quite interesting. I highly recommend this book. #GratefulAmerican
Profile Image for Stan Stinson.
59 reviews8 followers
January 22, 2019
The role of a lifetime

If you think you know Gary Sinise you really don't. If you want to know how Gary prepared for the role he is now playing, that of one of the foremost supporters of our defenders, first responders, veterans and their families you need to get your copy of this book as soon as it is available. I was privileged to receive an advanced reader copy and have read that and am looking forward to the hardcopy and audiobook I have pre-ordered. It is available to all on February 12th. You can find out more at gratefulamericanbook.com.

Inside you will learn how a high school drama teacher planted the seed and challenge that have brought us the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Of Mice and Men, in which he acted, produced and directed, and characters brought to life on the screen, both large and small, of Harry Truman, George Wallace, Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, Mac Taylor in CSI New York, Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13 and the Lt. Dan Band and Gary Sinise Foundation. Along the way, you will learn the advice he received from Steven Spielberg, that he ignored, and why he was once kicked off the Warner Brothers lot, as he shares his life story. Obviously, there is a lot more inside that will make you laugh, cry and say ahh (light bulb goes on) from time to time.

Gary has played many roles so far in his life but the role he has played over the last several years and will be his legacy is a role he was called to play. The book shows how his life preceding The Gary Sinise Foundation prepared him for this role. He plays it like no one else with sincerity, humility, and gratitude. It's what makes him a Grateful American. After you read his story I suspect you will be too.

Much like his high school drama teacher challenged him I challenge you to read his story in this book. You will be glad you did.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,940 reviews722 followers
September 21, 2019
Gary Sinise is a man to be admired, thanked, and held up as a role model for what a person can do in their treatment and respect for the people who are veterans and first responders.

In his book, we learn about his journey to become an actor and eventually achieve the role he is most remembered by, that of portraying the character Lieutenant Dan, in the movie Forest Gump. He becomes identified as a diabled soldier because of this role and many see him as a standard bearer for those soldiers who were injured in their role as protectors of America's freedom.

We learn of Gary's many endeavors into ways in which he and others have aided our returning soldiers especially those who have been horribly wounded and strive to reform their lives around their families and their disabilities. From the building of smart homes to the entertaining and fundraising for the men and women of our military, Gary has done all he could to be a man who returns all that he feels God has given him. He demonstrates in so many ways how very grateful he is to be a citizen of America, and how he has and is paying back for that honor.

It would be wonderful if many of the members of Hollywood and the actors that have achieved so much with fame and fortune would follow Gary's lead and become advocates for our military and our first responders.

Thank you to Gary Sinise, his family, and the many organizations he has started and funded that raise not only awareness of the problems our returning military face, but also what one person can do to raise our sights on what is important and true about being a grateful American.
To contribute or learn more please go to this site.
January 4, 2019
I am so excited to read this book!! The publisher offered a chapter preview and I am hooked! First chapter had me laughing, crying and intrigued to read more!
Profile Image for Ricardo Fernandez.
Author 6 books5 followers
January 22, 2019
Sinise, Gary. (February 12, 2019) Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.

Gary Sinise opens his biography with an attention grabbing prologue that begins at the 1994 Disabled American Veterans convention in Chicago. He was there to be honored by the group for playing "Lieutenant Dan" in the movie Forrest Gump. He choked up as the disabled veterans enthusiastically stood to applaud his portrayal of a disabled Vietnam veteran. Gary was humbled at receiving their award for, as he says, merely portraying a character as an actor. He thought about how poorly our Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home from serving our country and became determined to "make sure our veterans are never treated that way again." Thus were planted the seeds of Gary's passion to start the Gary Sinise Foundation whose motto is: "We can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation's defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families who serve alongside them, we can always do a little more."
The biography describes his great grandfather, Vito Sinisi, arriving in the USA from Italy in search of his American dream. He writes about his grandpa Dan's military service in WWI, his uncles' and dad's military service in WWII, and his brother-in-law's service in Vietnam. You can see the family's long history and commitment to service.
Gary takes us on his journey about growing up in the Chicago area from Harvey to Highland Park. He candidly writes about his childhood and his struggles to make friends and graduate from high school. His early selfish focus was on himself. Fortunately, a teacher sees him in the hallway, tells him he looks like a gang member and asks him to try out for the school play, West Side Story. This participation gets him involved in something greater than himself and he is truly transformed after being accepted into the theater family at school.
He writes about co-founding Steppenwolf Theater and his career as an award winning actor and director. This brings us to his life changing role as Lieutenant Dan Taylor from the hit movie Forrest Gump. In the book, he states his character Lt. Dan is wearing only shorts and flip flops when you first see him because the director wanted us to see him with his legs he would eventually lose in the movie. Gary describes his role in the movie and also relates how he injured his hip during the multiple takes of Tom Hanks carrying him out of the jungle on his shoulder. This injury required three weeks of extensive physical therapy.
Then, September 11, 2001 happened which changed his life's purpose from focusing on himself to honoring our veterans, first responders, active military members and their families. Gary wrote, "I wondered what I could possibly do to support my country during this terrible time." He contacted the USO several times and asked to go on tour to personally thank those military members who were serving our country. He didn't get a response back until he said he was Gary Sinise who played "Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump." After a few fulfilling handshake tours, he formed the Lt. Dan Band, where he plays bass guitar, and has since performed over 400 concerts to raise money for charitable causes to support our troops and first responders. Additionally, while touring with the USO, he saw a need for school supplies for the poor children in Afghanistan and formed a charity, Operation Iraqi Children, that sent 340,967 school supply kits to our service members to deliver to Iraqi children in need.
On June 30, 2011 he officially launched the Gary Sinise Foundation which, among other major accomplishments, has built 50 smart homes for wounded warriors, donated 100,000 meals to our troops, took 2,000 Gold Star Families to Disney World in 2018, and performed hundreds of concerts of appreciation with the Lt. Dan Band for our service members all over the world.
He writes about all five surviving quadruple amputee service members from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He saw their need to reclaim their independence and went to work raising money so they could pick out a piece of land to build a smart home which Gary Sinise paid for at no cost to our wounded heroes. This act of generosity allows our wounded warriors and their loved ones to live most independently. Many of his other philanthropic activities are also highlighted in the book .
Gary humbly writes, "I just hope that I can be a good steward of the freedom that has been provided to me, and all my fellow Americans, because of the sacrifices of so many guardian angels. It is my wish to do that for the rest of my life." As you will learn, he is a man of action and he puts his faith and passion into making a difference in the lives of others. You will see that he and his family are not perfect and they too have had their challenges which he openly writes about in the book.
In the book, Gary writes, "I want to lead a good life, not just for myself, but also for my fellow man. A life of service, to try to make the world a better place. America has given me this opportunity, and for that, I will always be grateful." If you have an interest in learning about Gary Sinise and how his life evolved from "self to service," then this book is a must read for you. I have followed Gary Sinise's efforts to honor our troops, veterans, first responders and their families for years. I was hoping to gain insight into what made him a nationally recognized advocate for our troops and learn about how he became "our generation's Bob Hope." I learned a lot about Gary Sinise and found the book informative, entertaining and enjoyable.
I received an Advance Readers Copy from Gary Sinise and was able to read the book before the official release date to write this review.
Ricardo A. Fernandez
Profile Image for Cathrine ☯️ .
604 reviews330 followers
February 12, 2020
3.75 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸
As a man, husband, father, actor, & narrator of this memoir, Gary Sinise (AKA Lieutenant Dan) gets 5 stars. As a patriot and supporter of the men and women in armed service he deserves many more.
This is his story, told in his own voice, about how he came to be such a grateful (and I'm sure beloved) public servant to those in uniform.
Profile Image for Terry Cornell.
393 reviews35 followers
April 23, 2020
An inspiring read. Sinise is not only a great actor, but his accomplishments in supporting veterans and first responders is above and beyond. I first became aware of his support of veterans when his Lt. Dan band performed at our local minor league baseball stadium at a fund-raiser to build a special adaptive smart home for a local veteran paralyzed serving our country in Iraq. What an amazing night! That was 2014, and through his efforts and others' in our community spear-headed by a group of high school students, Jerral Hancock and his family now live in their specially designed home. Multiply this story and you still see only a fraction of what his foundation has managed to accomplish.

The book starts with Sinise growing up in Chicago without much direction or ambition. He inadvertently discovers the thrill and reward of acting, going on to co-found the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The book covers his personal and family struggles, as well as his successes in movies and television. There is always a connection to the military, and his role as Lt. Dan in "Forest Gump" eventually helps propel him into traveling the world with the USO, performing with his Lt. Dan Band and forming the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation continues to evolve to meet the needs of the veterans and first responders community. Today their newest program is providing PPE as well as financial support to military, veteran, and hospital workers and their families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019 Sinise held a live interview and book signing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. My wife and I were lucky to be able to attend. I am so awestruck by the accomplishments of such a humble man. Read the book, and if you can, make a donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Profile Image for Dean Hillestad.
1 review1 follower
January 22, 2019
As a voracious and eclectic reader, I’ve read dozens of autobiographies, but Gary Sinise hits it out of the ballpark with “ Grateful American, A Journey From Self To Service.”
I’m a naturally fast read, but I slowed down for this one, to savor each word.
From prologue to last paragraph, Gary’s compelling words evoke emotion, from awe, laughter and tears. His honesty, humility, dedication, and talent shows on each and every page.
I learned much of Gary’s past and of his personal life I wasn’t aware of. I was amazed by the number (and depth) of programs he’s been involved in to support and benefit our Troops, Veterans, first responders and their families.
One paragraph in the final chapter is in my opinion is the essence of Gary Sinise. “.....We need to make each day purposeful, and for the past several years I’ve discovered that much of that purpose for me is in serving and honoring the needs of our defenders. That’s why I’m still on a mission, a mission that’s the driving reason I’ve told my story. All my experiences—the places I came from, my years of formation, the people I’ve met along the way, the mistakes I’ve made and learned from, the challenges of my career and the ways I overcame—all my life has has culminated in my ongoing service work.”

Bottom line, Gary Sinise is a True American Patriot 🇺🇸
Preorder it, read it,tell your friends about it.
If ever a book should be required reading in all USA Schools, it’s this one.
2 reviews
January 22, 2019
This book has been one of the best to read. I enjoyed all aspects of the story. The book compelled emotions from laughter, anger, sadness, and a profound love of the USA. It was not a slow read book for me, in which, I couldn't put it down. I took the book with me everywhere and promoted it to whomever would listen. As to avoid spoilers, I will not disclose any parts of the book.

Not you ordinary autobiography and left me knowing I could do more. Amazing how one man's vision could accomplish so much and benefit so many people. It has become infectious and spread among Gary's friends, family, and peers to do more.
A truly wonderful book.
Profile Image for Dave.
2,981 reviews324 followers
March 22, 2019
Grateful American is one of the most inspiring books you'll ever read. In many ways, Gary Sinise is an unlikely story. He was the kid flunking out of every high school class. He was the longhaired counterculture guy who formed a drama troupe and who lived on Peanuts pursuing his dreams of acting. But, a magical thing happened and he found that Vietnam Veterans responded to his Lieutenant Dan character from Forrest Gump. No one remembered his real name, but they remembered this character. He got involved in the USO and meeting veterans and active duty troops. After 9/11 tore us out from our safe cocoons, he began touring in battlefield bases, visiting troops in Baghdad and Khandahar, showing them that America appreciated their sacrifices. As Sinise became well-known through CSI, he expanded his work to include backpacks of school supplies for children in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, later, visiting veterans (who all remembered him as Lieutenant Dan - only Dan suddenly had legs again) at Walter Reed, got involved in providing housing for veterans wounded - missing limbs- burned.

Written in an easygoing narrative voice that captures the reader first with his crazy childhood hijinks, this book serves as a reminder to us all of how we can help one another and pay it forward to those who need our help.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,929 reviews640 followers
October 3, 2019
Check out this video please #gratefullikegary

This is a full bio of Gary Sinise, started out as a young man in theater, and a nice section with behind the scenes of Forrest Gump onto CSI.
I've read Gary Sinise has been involved with helping veterans after he starred as Lieutenant Dan, little did I know that his patriotism started well before the 1994 movie.
I'm blown away by his lifelong dedication for our troops at home and abroad. The part about wounded warriors probably was most heartbreaking and brought a lot of tears. "Freedom is never free. Someone has to pay."
January 22, 2019
Book/ Grateful American
The books title basically describes the Author himself. Gary Sinise a dedicated man who loves America and who will do anything for our Men and Women who are serving or have served. This book is emotional,inspiring and so incredibly detailed. Gary describes his life from struggling teen to how he started his work with our veterans and troops. In 2001 the day our world was taken over completely by evil and devastation, The horrific ordeal drove Mr Sinise to start his extraordinary misson, The Gary Sinise foundation and his band The Lt dan band, where he travels all over the world playing for our Defenders. Everything he does and what he has done for our men and women is truly appreciated. His motto is While we can never do enough for our Defenders and their loved ones,We can always do alittle more.
Profile Image for Kathi Rauscher.
106 reviews1 follower
February 20, 2019
A wonderful book by a hero to our Nation’s Heroes. I purposely took my time reading this book. I didn’t want it to end. Gary is truly a man who is proud of his country and the Servicemen, Veterans and First Responders who serve this country. There You were chapters that had me laughing and some that had me in tears. He is truly one of a kind. The writing was beautifully done. Growing up in Northern Illinois myself I knew all the places he spoke of. This is a must read.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,216 reviews550 followers
February 13, 2019
Fast read and SO honest. His earliest life was 5 star for my read as it was also totally known. It was closely, very closely in the same style and places as mine. Actually exactly in my sister's time frame too.

But the entire is a sincere relating of all the ACTION. He's been a doer. And he went astray and has had periods of flaws and the usual too, meanderings out of antsy and searching mode distraction. Leading to bridge felony. You can tell, especially when he was young but even now- that he could /can never stay still. It's visible in his work and in the prose here too. The energy is huge, and has to be filtered for purpose.

I can't say that I usually like the movie or arts celeb memoir- but this one is exceptional. His road to the work he does now is not only an inspirational story, but also quite varied/ interesting in vast distances of travel and coordinated group approaches and countless other inputs that ended him up where he is now. He's an icon for giving back.

He is the "Bob Hope" of our time with the troops. And his story is definitely worth the read.

Knowing that he went from a South side Harvey kid (and does his cognition, judgment, reflections in this book show the heritage of that experience) to becoming a North side burb ritzy million choices kid who has also morphed into a Cubs fan! It didn't take away the one star, but it did make me consider his "eyes" for the bad boy years- how that happened. His father was exceptional in workplace skills too, which was a terrific role model for him. And gave him early entry into film process and access to the structures for productions.

Gary is sure a keeper in all he is and in what he does. Still moving and doing.

The title is apt. I like the last name with an i at the ending, better.
January 22, 2019
This book reads like a narrative and is a must read for every American. A celebrities journey through charity work with veterans. Warm and informative. A look into a world less visited from a perspective of giving and learning the struggles of others. It is really indescribable unless you read it.
Profile Image for Carolyn Harper.
202 reviews2 followers
February 12, 2019
Gary Sinise’s memoir traverses his career and his involvement with supporting American troops and veterans. While the book is interesting, it feels frenetic in the second half, sounding like a list of who’s who. Without taking anything away from the tremendous work that Sinise has done, the book sometimes comes across as self-aggrandizing, though I honestly don’t believe that was his intent. Kudos to Mr. Sinise for his work; the story might have been better told by a third party. I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher.
January 20, 2019
Honest and sincere, the stories from the author's life, at times humorous and sad, seem, retrospectively of course, to lead to a life of graciousness and service. It is at once loudly passionate and quietly humbling. Very well written, I wish to simply say to Mr. Sinise, thank you.
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
1,992 reviews208 followers
September 18, 2019
Lt. Dan. . .Gary Sinise is a hero. Advocating service to mankind and putting all he has toward that end. Remembering to say thank you (and mean it!) to those who have served our country and us to make sure we can read books, any books, to make sure we can go to school and ponder on our futures. . . .so many have given up their futures. The author wants us to always remember and never forget there is a reason we are where we are, have what we have and we need to be grateful for it.

This was a great read, by a great human. I'm thankful for his voice and actions.
January 22, 2019
A sincere, often amusing, often sad, very honest telling of this man's journey. I was surprised to find his high school years were not great. His honesty about his wife and children and then his huge desire to make things good for our veterans was so moving. Really liked his detail. Only negative was his back and forth in time sometimes. I am old and it confused me once or twice! I recommend it to everyone!!
Profile Image for Donna.
3,882 reviews8 followers
October 17, 2019
This is the autobiography of Gary Sinise, who according to this book, is only known to people as Lieutenant Dan. I think it is rare for someone to act on benevolent thoughts. Instead of saying, "Hey! People should do more for our nation's veterans." He actually does it....and not just a "one & done" type thing. He really has made it an integral part of this life. I admire that type of passion when it comes to acts of service & kindness, when he really didn't have to.

He starts off talking about the many poor paths he could have traveled being a kid of the 60's & 70's. But when he went to his first tryout for a school play, it kind of sealed his fate. However, he has managed to do more than just act, produce, and direct. He has tried to help others.....he gives back. Kudos to Gary. The last half was all about the veterans and also helping children with school supplies in the Middle East. I wish he had talked more about himself and how his family fit into it all. I gave this 5 stars, because it was refreshing to read about someone who finds his American dream and then turns it into so much more.
Profile Image for Lainey Simon.
1 review
January 25, 2019
I received an ARC copy of this book. I am a veteran of the United States Army and found my knowledge of Gary to be limited only to his military contributions, and of course, to his character as Lt. Dan. I met Gary in New Orleans in 2017 and thanked him personally for all that he has done for this country. I feel a bit of regret not knowing more about his life than I do now. I would have at least dropped in a joke or a reference to his past to make the encounter more personable.

There are a lot of names mentioned in this book and I found that it was helpful to look up the referencing names and get a picture in my head before continuing to read. It was a much more pleasant story after I was able to put faces to names. I think that's the point where any book comes alive, is when you start picturing the characters, rather than just reading names. Believe me, you will be pretty surprised by some of the names you come across that have made such an impact on his life.

Going in with no information whatsoever of his past before the movie Forrest Gump was a real treat! I felt like I was learning very intimate, personal things about Gary that no one else knew except for the ones close to him. You will read this book and fall in love with not only Gary, but also everyone that has guided him along his path to service.

Some very emotional moments throughout the book, but also a lot of funny ones too. He doesn't shy away from any subjects that might be considered taboo, because those things are what made him the man he is today. The book is very genuine and raw. I read it in 3 days, it consumed all of my free time. The chase of what was to come next was then ended with the last page...and for a bit of time, I felt like Gary was now a friend. I understood his life's story and message and felt so thankful to have been given the experience!

I knew this book would be a 5 star read about 10 pages in. Yes, folks, it's that great! Take the time to get to know a real American hero!
Profile Image for Margaret.
984 reviews6 followers
September 2, 2020
I always liked the actor's movies though I had no idea that he was so instrumental in helping veterans and first responders. He is one individual that truly inspires me. An amazing memoir of a stand up guy that is one of a kind.
1 review1 follower
January 23, 2019
This book is an eye-opener. We can all do more to help our fellow man, and Gary Sinise has paved the way. His loving respect for the men and women who sacrifice their comfort and safety to help protect all of us is evident. The events of Gary's life seem to equip him perfectly for the calling to serve our country and help the military in many ways. Inspiring and honest, Gary is an open book and we are the beneficiaries.

You will laugh and cry along with Gary as he leads us through the evolution of his life from "self to service."

This book gives an inspirational look behind the scenes during the USO tours across the globe, and in serving wounded veterans back in the states.

An enjoyable and painful vision into a world very few of us knows about. Yet, we can all learn something: "Do More."
January 27, 2019
When my wife got an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book, I thought it looked interesting so I borrowed it and finished it over a couple days after several repeated reminders that it was sent to her. Little did I know that it would capture my imagination, and I wouldn’t be able to put it down.
I am familiar with Gary Sinise as an actor from some of his high-profile roles as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump and Mac from CSI:New York and was a bit familiar with his work with the USO and playing in the Lt. Dan Band, but this memoir opened up a new world to me. Once I had read the first dozen or so pages, I just couldn’t stop. It was surprisingly infectious. Sinise comes across as so unassuming, as such an everyman, that the incredible stuff he does seems to be normal, attainable, like anybody could do what he does. Like I could do what he does. And maybe that’s the point.
Sinise also comes across as every bit the grateful American. He looks back at his life, the twists and turns and wins and failures, starting as a young, self-centered student actor with little motivation for school to a struggling but committed theater director and actor to Hollywood star and finally to realizing a life focused on service to others, especially remembering and honoring those who have served our country. He speaks candidly about his own battles for his marriage (how often do you get a Hollywood actor who has been married to the same woman for nearly four decades? Spoiler alert: there are some difficult times), but along the way he normalizes the struggles he faces and continues to face.
Coauthor Marcus Brotherton deserves credit, too, for allowing Sinise’s voice to be heard throughout the book. It was easy to imagine Sinise himself speaking every word, as if he was sharing his life and the wisdom he’d accumulated through good and bad decisions alike in a casual conversation. It’s well worth the read.
1 review
January 25, 2019
Excellent read! Good page turner! Engaging story about a life with no direction and a chance encounter that leads to his life’s purpose! Great book and an even better person!
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