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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

A Classic

Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation is a classic. This is not sophisticated writing and the format is basic but Brokaw's interviews with dozens and dozens of veterans of World War II, their wives, their children and their comments on how the war affected them and the way they lived the rest of their lives is a loving tribute to his father's generation.

Brokaw has sections on regular footsoldiers and sailors, soldiers who went on to become famous such as Casper Weinberger, Bob Dole, Andy Rooney and Julia Child. He also addresses the racism and sexism of the time (and incorrectly asserts that only the Japanese were forcibly removed - several East Coast Italians were removed to western states and their fishing boast were confiscated, although clearly the Japanese were treated much worse as a group). He also talks to soldiers who were wounded during the war and how that affected them.

Interesting comment from former pacifist Andy Rooney about his witnessing the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp: "For the first time I knew that any peace is not better than any war." (p. 296)

Tom Brokaw
Commentary about the differences of values between generations abounds. I liked this observation about divorce from Peggy Assenzio: "It's too easy to get a divorce. We've had our arguments, but we don't give up. When my friends ask whether I ever considered divorce I remind them of the old saying, 'We've thought about killing each other, but divorce? Never.'" (p. 239)

I also like the observation of a black soldier who philosophically overlooked the racism he experienced: "When you get over there and the nation's in trouble you ain't got no black and white. You only got America." (p. 199)

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on January 30, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. This is a novel about a group of people who fought for their country and are now called the Greatest Generation. They are the Greatest Generation and they are humble about it. I am very interested in World War II. About the culture, the war itself, and the people. If you want to understand the people that fought for us in WW II this is the book to read. I highly recommend it.