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)
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.