The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation

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9780060937706: The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation

At a time when we are once again talking and thinking about the meaning of America, bestselling author and award-winning journalist Dan Rather provides a powerful look at Americans who struggle to achieve their desires and ambitions. With the stories of ordinary men and women accomplishing the extraordinary, Rather demonstrates how the American dream brings us together and guides us, as it has for more than 200 years.

For some, the American dream is simply to own a home or rise out of poverty. Some wish to serve God, country, or community. There are those who want to learn to read or run their own business. Still others simply wish to exercise fundamental American rights: to openly practice their religion and to speak what is in their minds and hearts.

Stirring and provocative, The American Dream illustrates that the basic American desire for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is alive and well. It also confirms what our founding fathers always believed: that we are a country of visionaries, in ways big and small.

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Review:

Despite years of reporting on tragedies around the world, Dan Rather is clearly an optimist. His take on the American dream, as personified by more than 30 Americans, is an inspiring reminder that the ideals the nation was founded upon are still alive and well. Rather first looked at how Americans pursued the American dream in a yearlong feature for his CBS Evening News show. His book takes off where the series ended, with more in-depth stories of those successfully pursuing their version of the dream.

Nosrat Scott came to the U.S. in search of freedom of religion. She was so persecuted for her Bah'ai faith in Iran that she was moved to tears when she realized she could speak openly of her religion in her English-as-a-second-language class. For many, of course, the American dream is all about making it rich. Some traveled long distances only to be surprised by fortune, such as Trung Dung, who escaped Vietnam at the age of 17 and became a multimillionaire with his Internet start-up company. There are those who covet the pursuit of happiness as an end in itself, such as the couple who gave up their high-paying jobs in Southern California to move to a small town in Oregon in order to meet their "not rich criteria"--that is, time for family and community. And there are those who have to swallow their pride to get there, like the chef from Georgia who learned to read at age 26. Other dreams are organized under the headings of fame, family, innovation, and service, which could just as easily have been titled the pursuit of justice.

There are few recognizable names here, but the stories of these everyday heroes are a spirited antidote to a creeping national cynicism and a vigorous challenge to seize on the opportunities--and responsibilities--that the dream implies. --Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Dan Rather has received virtually every honor in broadcast journalism, including numerous Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award. He is anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News, anchor of 48 Hours, and correspondent for 60 Minutes II. He is also the authorof such bestsellers as Deadlines & Datelines, The Camera Never Blinks, and The Palace Guard. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jean.

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