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by Dan Rather

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16566-4
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

The well-known and respected television anchorman-correspondent shows a flair for essays in this collection that presents snapshots of our life and concerns in the 1990s. Rather has previously demonstrated his ability for memoirs in The Camera Never Blinks Twice (1994) and I Remember (1991), and although a few of the 99 short compositions in here were written by his colleagues, most are Rather’s. They appeared originally as either a newspaper or magazine article or as a broadcast from Rather’s daily radio program, and are categorized here into five chapters: “In the News, Across America,” “Foreign Policies, Global Perspectives,” “The Washington Scene: Politics and Politicians,” “Tributes,” and “The Lighter Side.” The book isn—t arranged chronologically, so the flexibility allows the stories to flow easily from one subject to another, one year to another. The subjects range from hard-hitting matters (human rights, foreign affairs) to lighthearted lifestyle stories (fishing, cartoons, entertainment, personalities), and there are seven essays—philosophical and not sensational—commenting on Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Clinton. Throughout, Rather provides helpful follow-ups and additional comments to keep the reader up-to-date about characters and events since the story’s original appearance. His writing may not be as magically poetic as that of other news personalities, such as the late Charles Kuralt (the subject of one of the essays), but his strength for journalistic details serves well not only the serious stories but also the anecdotal ones. Even Rather’s most personal and emotional essay, “The Last Grandmother” (written in 1985 and the only one not from the 1990s), is sweet while avoiding sentimentality because of his skill for straightforward reportage. Rather loosens the necktie of his television persona and chats amiably about our times, offering readers a glimpse of his point of view, his likes and dislikes, his fears, and his humor.