THE AMERICAN DREAM: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation
"Where is the American Dream today?" asks celebrity broadcast journalist Rather in this spinoff from the popular CBS Evening News feature on this question that ran for more than a year. Interviewing people all over the country, he finds a resounding answer: the American Dream is everywhere. By turns inspiring and awesome, the stories of people achieving their dreams of family, education, service, financial success, happiness and even celebrity make a fine tour of the territory. Rather's everyday heroes and heroines overcome illiteracy and become cookbook writers; escape religious persecution to come to the United States; and overcome grinding poverty to become CEOs. Those who fear that a steady stream of such success stories may become saccharine fast will breathe easy once they see Rather shining the spotlight on people like Wayne Ward Ford, who rose from Washington, D.C., juvenile delinquent to Iowa state legislator and testifies, "I could read. I could lead... I could write proposals. Damn, I was scared of myself." Rather himself, by contrast, tends to drone a bit ("[Education] is rightly considered a foundation or point of embarkation for any dream"). Still, with a newscaster's keen eye for an arresting story and engaging characters, Rather brings a surprisingly fresh approach to an old question. (On-sale: May 8)
Forecast: While Rather doesn't come close to matching the passion and emotion that Tom Brokaw brought to The Greatest Generation, Rather's popularity, the commercial success of his previous books and his reputation for journalistic integrity will no doubt propel him onto the bestseller lists, if only briefly.