Politicians aren’t the only ones who have strong opinions this election year. Agree or disagree, it’s always interesting to hear a case that’s backed with intelligence and confidence.
If you value a free and independent flow of information as being vital to our democracy, Dan Rather’s RATHER OUTSPOKEN will knock your sox off. Written with Digby Diehl, this is part memoir, part revelation of the way things really work at network television. Rather has been a reporter for sixty years. Forty-four of them were spent at CBS News, and for twenty-four of those years, Rather was the anchor and managing editor of the CBS “Evening News.” Never one to shy away from controversy, on “60 Minutes II” he created an uproar when he reported that George W. Bush (43) had been guilty of dereliction of duty during his stint with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war. Rather was dismissed by CBS News, and here tells the behind the scenes story as only he can.
Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Bill Maher has titled his published rant THE NEW NEW RULES, with the subtitle “A Funny Look at How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass.” Not surprisingly, this paperback irreverently discusses subjects that the late night host considers fair game, namely “all that America holds sacred.” Maher is the host of HBO’s “Real Time,” and hosted Comedy Central and ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” for ten years. He’s received twenty-seven Emmy nominations, created nine stand-up comedy specials, and produced “Religulous,” a documentary. So anyone who’s shocked by his attacks on Congress, the teaching system in this country, and even packaged food that contains more than one serving, just hasn’t been paying attention.
Stephen Colbert is also no stranger to late night TV, but fans may be surprised by his latest book, I AM A POLE (AND SO CAN YOU). A picture book that’s eminently suitable for young readers, with illustrations by Paul Hildebrand, Colbert dedicates it “For Poles everywhere- keep dreaming.” Written in easy verse, the text ponders different type of poles, from barber to tadpole to political pole. Just when it seems the whole litany is a set up for “pole-ish jokes,” Colbert turns serious, and even patriotic, during the last few pages.
AMERICA, YOU SEXY BITCH is what Democrat Michael Ian Black and Republican Meghan McCain call “A love letter to freedom.” The two road-tripped across the country to see if it were possible for two people with radically different politics to find common ground. They talked with a variety of people, and found that many of their preconceptions proved false. In Salt Lake City, Meghan meets a real anarchist; while in Sedona, Michael not only gets a better understanding of the NRA, but also fires a gun for the first time in his life. Exotic dancers in Las Vegas air their ideas about sex education; a Little Rock mom, who’s a trucker, gives her views on feminism in the workplace; and a Detroit imam expresses his viewpoint on religious tolerance. McCain’s motto was “buy the ticket, take the ride;” Black, a stand-up comedian, brought his own unique point of view. Together, they found a sense of hope, and came to understand that Americans love their country and want to work together to see it succeed.
In June, 2004, David Goldman took his wife, Bruna, and their four-year-old son, Sean, to the airport. Mother and child were going for a two-week visit to Bruna’s home country, Brazil. Little did he know that only A FATHER’S LOVE would keep David going when he got the news that both Bruna and Sean would be staying in Brazil. For three-and-a-half years, David battled alone to get his son back. His now ex-wife had married into a powerful Brazilian family, which thwarted all legal efforts to return Sean to America. David never wavered in his belief that he and Sean would one day be reunited. After a long period of apathy from everyone to whom he appealed for help, he was finally able to attract the interest of the media, and to enlist United States officials to help him. It took five long years for David and Sean to be together again, and on Christmas Eve, 2009, the father who never gave up was once more able to hold his son. How David rebuilt his relationship with his boy is an inspiring story; it’s even more profound when we remember that 200,000 children a year are abducted by family members.
THE BLUE CASCADE is Mike Scotti’s story of his journey from being a soldier who was determined to reject all weakness, to a veteran’s advocate for those dealing with post-traumatic stress. His message to fellow sufferers is “It’s OK if you are not OK.” Scotti was a Marine on the front lines in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When he returned stateside, he was determined to earn an MBA, get a high-paying job in finance, and to retire young and rich. He tried to ignore his encroaching depression, his numbness, and his general sense that all wasn’t well. His episodes of drunkenness and rage escalated to the point where he contemplated taking his own life. After fighting his way back, Scotti realized he could help others, and founded the NYU Stern Military Veterans Club; he also serves on the board of directors for ReserveAid, and speaks to veteran’s groups across the country.
Each of these authors has a powerful point of view; it’s the essence of our democracy that right or wrong, we all have the freedom to write about what we’ve experienced, and what we believe.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com