Boom!: Book summary and reviews of Boom! by Tom Brokaw

Boom!

Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today

by Tom Brokaw

Boom! by Tom Brokaw

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Book Summary

“Boom! One minute it was Ike and the man in the grey flannel suit, and the next minute it was time to Turn on, Tune in, Drop out. While Americans were walking on the moon, Americans were dying in Vietnam. Nothing was beyond question, and there were far fewer answers than before.”

Published as the fortieth anniversary of 1968 approaches, Boom! gives us what Brokaw sees as a virtual reunion of some members of “the class of ’68,” offering wise and moving reflections and frank personal remembrances about people’s lives during a time of high ideals and profound social, political, and individual change. What were the gains, what were the losses? Who were the winners, who were the losers? As they look back decades later, what do members of the sixties generation think really mattered in that tumultuous time, and what will have meaning going forward?

Race, war, politics, feminism, popular culture, and music are all explored here, as we learn from a wide range of people about their lives: Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Joan Growe, Ruth Simmons, Paul Simon, Garry Trudeau, James Taylor, Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, and many, many more. Tom Brokaw explores how members of this generation have gone on to bring activism and a sixties mindset into individual entrepreneurship today. We hear stories of how this formative decade has led to a recalibrated perspective–on business, the environment, politics, family, our national existence.

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R.F. Westendorf

Sexual Freedom is Self-Destruction
Recently I had the opportunity to listen to a reading of “Boom.” As one born in 1933, I observed, mostly from a distance, the history-making events of the 60’s, and I found the analyses accurate and impartial. I appreciate the wisdom that went into that report.

Except for one glaring omission.

Among all the events of the 60’s, the sexual revolution had the most lasting and destructive effect upon today’s culture. Brokaw mentioned it regularly but never described or evaluated it (which seems to be the rule by which the media operates).

Thanks to the sexual revolution, we have

1. More clients for the abortion clinics;
2. An epidemic of STD’s, both debilitating and fatal;
3. An elevated divorce rate;
4. A plague of fatherlessness. (In 1965 Patrick Daniel Moynihan noted with alarm that 24% of black children were born out of wedlock. Today that number is 73% for black children and 29% for white children).
5. Billions of tax dollars spent to relieve the pain of dysfunctional families.

But the most devastating effect of the sexual revolution is not so easily identified. If it could somehow be measured, the self-esteem of today’s generation would be found to be significantly lower than that of the “Greatest Generation” that survived the Depression and won the Second World War.

The strength of self-esteem derives from multiple sources, but the greatest single source of self-esteem is security in early childhood. We know our worth because Mom and Dad loved us and cared for our needs just because we were their children. Sexual freedom has denied many children the benefit of that security.

Ignoring, for the moment, the infinite variables involved, we and our children, black and white, would have a much better world today if the sexual revolution had not been allowed to succeed. But Brokaw did not think that this was worth discussing in his book.

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Author Information

Tom Brokaw Author Biography

Tom Brokaw, a native of South Dakota, graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in political science. He began his journalism career in Omaha and Atlanta before joining NBC News in 1966. Brokaw was the White House correspondent for NBC News during Watergate, and from 1976 to 1981 he anchored Today on NBC. He was been the sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw from 1983 to 2004, and has been a Special Correspondent for NBC News since 2004. Brokaw has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including two DuPonts, a Peabody Award, and several Emmys. He is the author of several books, including The Greatest Generation, An Album of Memories, A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland, and Boom!: ...

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Name Pronunciation
Tom Brokaw: bro-cor

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