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The Greatest Generation

ISBN: 0 8129 6521 3 / 0 8129 7529 4
Review Date:

This book had been in print for ten years by the time I read it for the first time. Those who described the book back then as a pivotal book of its time were right.

While World War II was one of the central characters, to be sure, The Greatest Generation is not about the war. The book is about the Americans who grew up in the Great Depression, came of age during the war years, and then came out of that experience to build their nation into the most thriving and prosperous society the world has ever known. As such, the book is largely an American story; written about Americans and for Americans.

Within this framework, Tom Brokaw demonstrates his superb storytelling abilities by re-telling the individual stories of several members of the Generation from all corners and all walks. He chronicled each of their stories from childhood, through the war, and how those experiences shaped their adult lives. From how these people lived their lives, several qualities shared by all of them emerged fairly conspicuously: a sense of service over self, commitment to family, love of country, sense of community, and a common moral code. These things, along with their wartime experience that anything is possible if the nation pulls together, led these people to come out of the war and lead their nation forward to greatness.

The subjects Brokaw chose to showcase may have done something as seemingly ordinary as raising a family and promoting local Little League Baseball, or they may have done something as seemingly grand as going to Congress and sponsoring landmark legislation, and all points in between. All together, once they made their nation safe in 1945, they went on to make their nation great - from the grass roots up.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Alan says:
16 May 2011 12:14:55 AM

I have to say that it rankles somewhat to have a television news anchor-man tell me what I can or can not read. Mr Brokaw need not worry-If he is going to insist that his book is for 'Americans only', then he can be quite sure that his publishers are soon going to discover that their export sales are becoming somewhat restricted.
2. Ultradog says:
22 May 2011 03:24:03 AM

I read "The Good War" by Studs Terkel in the late 80s. It was a fine piece of writing. When Brokaw's book came out I read that too. I was a little ashamed at Brokaw's work. Same idea, same theme as Terkel and not as well written at that.

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Related People:
» Bush, George
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Famous WW2 Quote
"All that silly talk about the advance of science and such leaves me cold. Give me peace and a retarded science."

Thomas Dodd, late 1945