"In the spring of 1984, I went to the northwest of France, to Normandy, to prepare an NBC documentary on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day, the massive and daring Allied invasion of Europe that marked the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. There, I underwent a life-changing experience. As I walked the beaches with the American veterans who had returned for this anniversary, men in their sixties and seventies, and listened to their stories, I was deeply moved and profoundly grateful for all they had done. Ten years later, I returned to Normandy for the fiftieth anniversary of the invasion, and by then I had come to understand what this generation of Americans meant to history. It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced."
In this superb book, Tom Brokaw goes out into America, to tell through the stories of individual men and women the story of a generation, America's citizen heroes and heroines who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. This generation was united not only by a common purpose, but also by common values--duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself. In this book, you will meet people whose everyday lives reveal how a generation persevered through war, and were trained by it, and then went on to create interesting and useful lives and the America we have today.
"At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting in the most primitive conditions possible across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the coral islands of the Pacific. They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, instruments of conquest in the hands of fascist maniacs. They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front. They won the war; they saved the world. They came home to joyous and short-lived celebrations and immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers. A grateful nation made it possible for more of them to attend college than any society had ever educated, anywhere. They gave the world new science, literature, art, industry, and economic strength unparalleled in the long curve of history. As they now reach the twilight of their adventurous and productive lives, they remain, for the most part, exceptionally modest. They have so many stories to tell, stories that in many cases they have never told before, because in a deep sense they didn't think that what they were doing was that special, because everyone else was doing it too.
"This book, I hope, will in some small way pay tribute to those men and women who have given us the lives we have today--an American family portrait album of the greatest generation."
In this book you'll meet people like Charles Van Gorder, who set up during D-Day a MASH-like medical facility in the middle of the fighting, and then came home to create a clinic and hospital in his hometown. You'll hear George Bush talk about how, as a Navy Air Corps combat pilot, one of his assignments was to read the mail of the enlisted men under him, to be sure no sensitive military information would be compromised. And so, Bush says, "I learned about life." You'll meet Trudy Elion, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, one of the many women in this book who found fulfilling careers in the changed society as a result of the war. You'll meet Martha Putney, one of the first black women to serve in the newly formed WACs. And you'll meet the members of the Romeo Club (Retired Old Men Eating Out), friends for life.
Through these and other stories in The Greatest Generation, you'll relive with ordinary men and women, military heroes, famous people of great achievement, and community leaders how these extraordinary times forged the values and provided the training that made a people and a nation great.
The New York Times Book Review - Michael Lind
It is a tribute to Brokaw's skill as a reporter that he has managed to elicit so many memorable stories from reticent people.
The New York Times - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
Mr. Brokaw's motives...seem heartfelt....And the stories he tells...are diverting enough, occasionally even inspiring...
An extremely moving portrait of a generation of remarkable Americans -- our better angels.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Thoroughly terrific, deeply felt, passionate. . .The stories Brokaw tells are so powerful that a spell is cast upon the reader, reminding us, in our more cynical and fragmented age, that with enough collective energy and spirit anything can be accomplished.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Jim P Forget it This is a perfect book for people of questionable intelligence that haven’t a clue about actual history and are too lazy too examine the historical records to obtain the truth about World War 2 or to put it more bluntly it’s a feel good book for... Read More
Rated of 5
by Ranae The Greatest Generation Reading this book started as a assignment to write a review about in world geography, but to me it went much farther than that. There was a book selection to choose from and most people in my 9th grade class chose this book or The Millionaire Next... Read More
Rated of 5
by Ron Hartman Tom Brokaw Needs To Write One More Book I have the title for his next book, "How America's Greatest Generation Has Screwed Their Grandchildren", subtitled...."Social Security and Medicare, The Two Greatest Ponzi Scheme's Ever".They worked hard but never had the guts... Read More
Rated of 5
by Thomond O'Brien Tom's Fairy Tale Not enough credit given to allies, especially the USSR. Two weeks after D-Day, Soviets launched Operation Bagration, destroying three Nazi armies; if they had been in France we would have been destroyed in the Normandy hedgerows.
Check... Read More
Rated of 5
by JoeFromMN Great stories, occassionly marred with bits of Brokaw's liberal slant. The book is actually well written, captivating, and deeply moving. There are only occasional flashes where Brokaw's liberalism shows itself. He should be commended for the restraint he practiced in putting together a piece that is objective on... Read More
Review (not rated)
by Thomas E. Sofranko Merchant Marine Comments Concerning The Merchant Marine in WWII
The only mention was one Para on Page 18 and it was an uneducated derogatory one at at that.
You should not even comment about them without some intelligent research. The AMM had the greatest per capita... Read More
Essays written by some of the most respected and well-known military historians of our time (Stephen Ambrose, John Keegan, Caleb Carr, William Manchester etc.), describe the horror and heroism of World War II.
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