The next step after establishing a popular website or social-media presence is a book deal. That's just how online fame works.
That's apparently true even for old-media types like Dan Rather, who is enjoying comeback thanks to his Facebook essays on the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump. (His resurgence comes over a decade after he resigned in disgrace in 2004 from his post as the anchor of CBS Evening News for his role in a hastily-reported and erroneous 60 Minutes story about then-president George W. Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War.)
On Thursday, the 85-year-old journalist announced that he is working on a book of essays about patriotism titled What Unites Us, due Nov. 7 from Algonquin, telling his readers, "I couldn't have done it without all of your encouragement."
Rather says that while most of his postings have reacted to the daily news cycle, his book will reflect a "wider perspective." (That said, Algonquin tells USA TODAY he might expand some of his Facebook postings into longer essays for the book.)
"I want to share my sense of the basic tenets that I see as the foundation of the country I hold so dear," Rather explained on Facebook. "It is patriotism, as I define it, not as a divisive cudgel but a common purpose. It is also a patriotism that will not ignore the sins of our nation, but challenge them honestly and head on. So in the book, I will be exploring themes that I see as fundamental to holding together this great experiment in democracy."
Those qualities, he says, are What Unites Us, hence the book title.
“Dan Rather is not just a national treasure. He has become a courageous voice of reason with both a sense of history and a true moral compass," Algonquin publisher Elisabeth Scharlatt said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We are so happy to help him keep the conversation going with this book that will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what’s important about America and being American.”
In classic Rather fashion, he made an observation about how the book-selling world has changed since wrote his first book more than 40 years ago.
"Apparently, you can now pre-order a book today, and thus pledge to read it before I have even finished writing it," he noted. "I'm not sure how I feel about that."