The Greatest Generation Speaks
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 11 Apr 2015
In 1998, American journalist Tom Brokaw published The Greatest Generation that profiled a handful of Americans who lived through the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s. The book picked up mainstream popularity, and the title became, though cliché, a popular reference of utmost respect Americans paid to the generation characterized by patriotism and loyalty. Many readers communicated their experiences to the author, noting that the book opened up the memory vault of family elders previously locked by heavy emotions, that the book should have included stories such as certain ones passed down by a particular family, or that they would like to share the personal correspondences exchanged between their parents during war time. Brokaw organized many pieces of those communications and published them as the follow up work The Greatest Generation Speaks in 2005. Although this sequel gave me the feeling that the publisher, perhaps even the author himself, aimed at generating revenue more than documenting the achievements of that generation, the stories told were nevertheless inspiring. While the study of WW2 history could be impersonal, memoirs and personal stories often bridged that gap. Memoirs could never be viewed as history, perhaps especially like the stories in this very book that might had been over romanticized, but they gave us a glimpse into the minds of those who had actually participated in the key historical events.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. The audio book was billed as read by Brokaw, but that was only partially true; the author generally introduced each letter or chapter, but the narration of the main content of each segment was done by a team of voice actors. The readers did a great job with their performance.
While The Greatest Generation Speaks fell far short in comparison to its predecessor, I found this collection of many short letters and stories to be very entertaining.
Also see: The Greatest Generation reviewed by C. Peter Chen.
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