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Into It: Dan Rather

The legendary broadcast journalist reveals what he's reading, watching, and listening to.

... Reading?

I am rereading – I have not read it in at least 40 years – H.G. Wells's The Outline of History. I have a two-volume set, which I've had since sometime in the 1950s, I think. He attempts to distill the history of the world. I'm just about finished with Volume I and about to begin Volume II of that. I did finish Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I've now read all of his books. I'm not a book reviewer, but I think he's one of the most important American novelists since Faulkner. Get a lot of argument about that, I suppose. "The Road," as you know, is a fairly short novel. To be able to pack that much into it, every word counts. I've reread a little bit about it for style. How does he do this? And I still don't know. (If you find out, call me collect!) My wife has cautioned me to stop saying this, but I'm a Bible reader and I read some of that every day.

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... Listening to?

I am rarely without [my iPod]. When I traveled to and from Greece and India recently, I was looking for a way to recharge it – it's such a long way there and back. I have on my iPod a collection of music which is heavily what most people call country and western music. It's heavy on Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. But I also have some [John Philip] Sousa music, which will get a fair number of chuckles, I suppose. Sousa was the master of the march. I particularly like "Semper Fidelis" and the second movement – someone who is schooled in music might say, 'It's not quite a movement,' but I call it a movement – I have isolated in and of itself ... so I can just go to it for short bursts of inspiration. I also have, on the iPod, Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Until I was probably 25 years old, if Hank Williams didn't sing it, I didn't know it. Also, The Blind Boys of Alabama. Oh, I love them. I did a story on them on "60 Minutes II" when I was still at CBS and met them. I do have some R.E.M. I've not listened to it lately. Particularly their earlier stuff and "Monster." Isn't it incredible that they're still going strong? They have the added advantage of being very smart. I should have mentioned that one of the early things I put on the iPod was R.E.M.

... Watching?

I saw La Vie En Rose, which is a biopic – as they call it – of Edith Piaf, the French artist. It was a tour de force of acting. I thought they did a good job with Ray, the biopic of Ray Charles, and I thought [Walk the Line] was particularly well done, but this is in a class by itself. I tend to watch, I would say overwhelmingly, news and sports. In no particular order – probably just about even – football, I am after all a Texan by birth and by choice; baseball, which I have a lifelong love for; and basketball. But, as my wife would be quick to tell you, from her viewpoint, I watch almost everything on the screen. It's not unusual for her to come in at 2 o'clock in the morning and say, "I can't believe you're watching a hockey game from the west coast of Canada." And I don't even understand hockey that well. The only thing – and, again, Mrs. Rather is responsible for this – I have ceased to watch is women's beach volleyball.


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