Illustrated by Tim Foley
Dan Rather's original prose book, What Unites Us, is a collection of essays, musings and observations with lots of autobiographical details, about American history and political climate. This graphic novel adapts many of the essays from the prose version. The historical events are not told in any sort of chronological order. Instead, Rather uses his perspective on key historical moments to illustrate bigger ideologies; things like "courage", or "patriotism." Rather attempts to explain what is special about America, what brings us together as a nation, but also what has worked to separate us, especially partisan bickering and political turmoil.
There is a lot of text in this book. Not having read the original prose book, I'm not entirely sure how much was edited from the original essays, if anything. There may be fewer chapters or ideologies discussed, but this adaptation strives to include much of the original work, and that can be overwhelming at times. The book is also quite long, so this is definitely more suited to readers with some stamina. Rather presents his views in a factual manner, but his left-leaning bias is present in many of the retellings of the past, especially when it comes to Republican lawmakers. The bias is subtle, but important to note. Taking these things into account, this was a fascinating examination of American history from World War II to present. Having limited education on post-Vietnam America, I always appreciate anything that can offer perspective on American History from 1970s-present. Rather was a trusted name in news media for so long, and this gave him access to some of the most important events of our history. His perspective and retelling of American history is interesting and thorough. Rather has some really poignant lessons for us all about what it means to be an American.
The color palette is exclusively red, white, blue, and black, right up until the last two pages, where Rather walks away across an American Flag into a purple "sunset". Instead of clashing as Red and Blue tend to do often, Foley expertly mixes the two in some really beautiful ways.
For the age rating for this title, I have chosen upper high school grades, not because there is any content within the pages that would be too graphic for younger audiences, but that I think the concepts in this book are more elevated and would partner well with a US History or Government class in the ways it discusses American History and the American Experience.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 11-12
This review was made possible with an advanced reader copy from the publisher through Net Galley. This graphic novel was released today, March 9th, 2021.
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Graphic Nonfiction, Memoir, History, Adaptations, War,
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