The longtime Today Show correspondent offers a collection of heartwarming stories about ordinary citizens, “people who live the values our country cherishes.”
For more than three decades now, Dotson (Make It Memorable, 2003, etc.) has specialized in Charles Kuralt–like stories about people “whose values were never preached, just lived.” Thus, we learn about the photographer whose 10-year project memorializing the giant cedars of western Washington led to the creation of Lewis and Clark National Park; the physician who recruited other retired doctors and nurses to establish a health clinic for the poor on Hilton Head Island; the first African-American in the U.S. Navy to earn a rank that took him out of the galley; the sawmill owner in Oregon who for years handed out $500 scholarships to any senior in town who wanted to go to college; the New York artist who traveled the country, exchanging his paintings for room and board. Dotson has found the last living member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, the migrant mother captured forever in Dorothea Lange’s iconic photo and a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl, still dancing at 105. The author mixes in a little autobiographical information, but he focuses on a succession of quiet achievers, people whose imagination, grit and goodness might otherwise have escaped the news, had he not gone in search of their stories.
Many of the characters require more than the three or four pages Dotson allots them to make any lasting impression, but the sheer multitude of tales underscores his argument about an America chock-full of unassuming people whose lives enrich the nation.