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Review: Rather Outspoken

August 21, 2012

Dan Rather worked for CBS News for 44 years and was the anchor of the CBS Evening News for 24 of them.  When he, and those he worked with, decided to run a story on President George W. Bush’s military service (or lack thereof, as he claims) on 60 Minutes II, it cost him his job and he found himself having to reinvent himself.

Since I enjoy memoirs, I thought Rather Outspoken, by Dan Rather, would be a good fit for me, and I was partly right.  The book started out rough for me and I even wondered if I’d be able to finish it, but once I got past the first two chapters, I found that I enjoyed it.  The end of the book was a little difficult to get through as well.

In the first two chapters, Rather goes over his team’s reporting of Abu Ghraib and President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard in meticulous detail.  He gives so many details and mentions so many people that it was hard to keep it all straight.  It’s obvious that he’s passionate about the reports they aired on those subjects but it also felt like he had an axe to grind at times.

After the first two chapters, Rather tells of his childhood, his college years, and his start in the news business – that’s when the book became what I had been expecting.  Rather was born in Texas to a pipeliner father and a waitress mother.  Times were tough but they were lucky enough to always have an income.  His parents had a great respect for the news – reading the paper from cover to cover and then discussing its contents.  Their respect of reporters made Rather want to be one.

Rather worked hard to be able to go to school and worked even harder to have the career he had.  I enjoyed reading about the beginnings of television news and Rather’s journey in it.  After years of putting the news first, he found himself without a job and had to decide where to go from there.

I felt the end of the book was somewhat introspective and maybe even a little preachy.  It got a little long for me, but one passage did stand out:

I believe that the free press is essential to the balance of powers in our government.  Our system of government was born of a love of freedom and a fear of power concentrated in the hands of one, such as a king, or a few, such as an aristocracy.

I agree with him that a free press is essential to our freedom but also felt he had a personal agenda in much of the book.  Overall, this was an okay book for me but news junkies will want to read Rather Outspoken.

Review copy provided by Media Connect.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
28 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    August 21, 2012 6:30 am

    I have always admired Dan Rather but I was hesitant to read his memoir because I was afraid that it be more about the news than about him. I may still read it, but I’ll be prepared for the first couple of chapters.

  2. August 21, 2012 7:35 am

    I think the title is clever. 🙂 I like the news, but the details might be a bit much for me.

  3. August 21, 2012 10:13 am

    I never did care for Dan Rather because he seemed arrogant to me. I always felt that he had forgotten the fact that a good journalist is objective; his reports seemed biased to me. This one isn’t for me even though I do like memoirs ordinarily.

  4. August 21, 2012 10:15 am

    I liked him as a newscaster but I can’t see reading a memoir!

  5. August 21, 2012 10:40 am

    It is rare I pick up a memoir. I usually have a hard time getting through them. Still our news outlets get a lot of flak for reporting this or that, or being biased one way or another. I think more and more people are watching news stuff to see which way they go. I really like the quote you pulled from it!

    Beth ^_^

  6. Stepping Out of the Page permalink
    August 21, 2012 11:04 am

    This is a really great review. Not a book that I’d personally pick up, though. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Steph @

  7. swright9 permalink
    August 21, 2012 11:05 am

    Yeah at times he seems interesting and other times a bit insufferable. Reading his memoir I bet would be sort of tough. I’m sure it’s quite a mix. I heard him on NPR talking about it.

  8. August 21, 2012 12:22 pm

    Thanks for this review. I always think that the reason we write is because we have something to say, hence, an agenda, whatever it is. Another statement I subscribe to is: there’s no neutral reporting.

  9. August 21, 2012 12:34 pm

    I’m not a big Dan Rather fan, but I totally agree about the need for free press. Reporters should be able to to investigative reporting without having to worry about losing their jobs. If they are lying about something that’s a different matter – there should be accountability for that. But people shouldn’t be fired for uncovering uncomfortable truths.

  10. Literary Feline permalink
    August 21, 2012 12:56 pm

    This isn’t the type of book I care to read, admittedly, but I am a bit curious about it. Like you, I agree about the need for free press. It’s such an essential part of our society.

  11. August 21, 2012 1:03 pm

    Excellent review of this memoir, Kathy! I’m sure it would be interesting in many ways.

  12. talesofwhimsy permalink
    August 21, 2012 1:09 pm

    I get that personal agenda vibe too. Great hones review.

  13. August 21, 2012 2:22 pm

    Memoirs are generally not for me, but Dan Rather was a journalist I admired as a kid, until his latter years. I feel that he may have had a personal agenda in writing a memoir, but I can’t say that I blame him after all his years of service.

  14. August 21, 2012 2:24 pm

    I’m not a BIG fan of memoirs, but I do read them from time to time, also not a huge fan of Dan Rather, however, the fact that he lost his job for doing it, bothers me. I may suffer through the first two chapters and give it a go. Thanks for your honesty.

  15. August 21, 2012 4:13 pm

    I do like memoirs, but I don’t know if I’m enough of a news junkie for this one. Sounds fascinating though.

  16. August 21, 2012 4:18 pm

    I never really watched Dan Rather that much, but think his getting fired was a bit harsh.

  17. August 21, 2012 4:24 pm

    I must have been living in a hole of some sort, but I didn’t even realize that he had been fired. Sounds like I could learn a lot by reading this one. 🙂

  18. August 21, 2012 4:26 pm

    It kind of seems weird that he started the book that way. It seems that that stuff would have come at the end of the book.

  19. August 21, 2012 4:33 pm

    I never really watch or listen to the news, so this might not be the book for me, but my stepmother would probably love it. She loves Rather, and has the news on all the time, even in the background while she works. This was a great review. You really nailed your feelings of trepidation that the book would not satisfy you, and I am glad that you found that was not the case!

  20. August 21, 2012 4:44 pm

    Great review. Although this is not my type of book, it sounds interesting.

  21. August 21, 2012 5:44 pm

    I didn’t realize he’d been fired. Geez.

  22. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    August 21, 2012 9:01 pm

    I’ve read similar thoughts from other people who read this one. He doesn’t really interest me so I probably would’ve closed the book.

  23. Patty permalink
    August 21, 2012 9:23 pm

    I love reading about other people reading memoirs…I once read a memoir by accident…I wish I could read them but I just can not!

  24. August 21, 2012 10:15 pm

    I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. This was one of the books that the author’s ego got in the way for me.

  25. August 22, 2012 2:40 am

    I don’t generally love celebrity memoirs (the name dropping drives me nuts), but this one sounds pretty different in a lot of ways.

  26. August 24, 2012 8:17 am

    I agree with Jenners that it seems odd to begin the memoir the way he did. I get concerned when members of the press become “stars” so Ryan’s comment about Rather’s ego getting in the way makes me think I wouldn’t enjoy this book. Thanks for telling us about it.

  27. August 25, 2012 3:03 pm

    I think Rather did get shafted by that report on Pres. Bush, but it sounds like he’s still trying to prove that he was right. Glad most of the book was good.

  28. bookingmama permalink
    August 26, 2012 11:11 am

    This might sound awful but I have absolutely no desire to read this one. Having said that, kudos to you for giving it a try.

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