• Samantha

Top Shelf: What Unites Us by Dan Rather & Elliot Kirschner

With a new administration in the White House and our country deeply divided, I found What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner a refreshing book to start this new year.


What Unites Us is a collection of Dan Rather's essays focusing on the United States' guiding principles -- such as voting, the press, immigration, science, public education and courage -- that have carried us through the highs and lows of our nation's history to present day. He defines America's best qualities with the message that much more unites us than divides us.


Rather's personal stories -- as a young boy growing up in Houston during the Great Depression, through his successful career at CBS, to now as an influential voice on social media -- provide wisdom and insight on America's story and our nation's ideals.



Published in 2017, What Unites Us discusses issues, institutions and democratic symbols on many Americans' hearts and minds today. For example, he focuses on the importance of vaccination safety and education as well as the successful eradication of small pox -- that is estimated to have killed 300 million around the world -- attributing to an investment in science. He dives into the history of our nation's Capital city and the Capitol itself -- its beauty, architecture and reverence. (I read this part the day after the insurrection at the Capitol.) In addition, he indulges us with behind the scene stories as our country dealt with war, death and scandal. This book really hit home.


I encourage everyone and anyone to read this book of reflections and beautiful storytelling. You may want to consider listening to it on audiobook -- it's read by Dan Rather. I enjoyed several chapters while driving; and just as I remembered, his voice was deliberate and engaging.


After finishing this book, I walked away with a deep sense of patriotism, hope for an America I want for my children and me, and the urgency to do my part to ensure our country and democracy can overcome the current tides of division.


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