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The Greatest Generation Paperback – 11 Oct 2005
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"A moving scrapbook...a tribute to the members of the World War II generation to whom we Americans and the world owe so much."
-- The New York Times Book Review
-- General Colin L. Powell (ret.) "Entirely compelling."
-- The Wall Street Journal "Written with love and grace ... a book I will keep forever on my shelves."
-- Frank McCourt, author of 'Tis "Heartfelt ... A sweeping tribute to Americans who saved the world. It offers welcome inspiration."
-- The Washington Times Don't miss the heartwarming New York Times bestseller that gives voice to The Greatest Generation The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections
Coming in July 2001 from Dell
From the Inside Flap
"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 bloodiedlandscape 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 hisassignments 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.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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I was sent a package last Christmas. One I had been looking forward to receiving. Lots of good stuff in the package, and an unexpected item. In the bottom of the package was a book; "The Greatest Generation", and yes, you guessed it; Tom Brokaw wrote it. At least it was a first edition. Oddly enough, I had heard about this book. Some even said it was a pretty good read. That it paid tribute to a generation and a people that largely go about their business without accolades. Only now is their work being recognized. Only now are the sacrifices they made coming to the full realization of the generations that have come after them. So I decided to give Tom Brokaw a chance to impress me. Haltingly, I admit that I was somewhat impressed. By presenting this book to the public, Tom Brokaw has accomplished something of far greater value than to impress me, or anyone else, for that matter. What he did do was trigger the mechanisms that start us on the path of pondering. I have to give him that, even though I don't really like him.
When I was finished with "The Greatest Generation", I put the book down and just stared at the air for a time. Slowly and ever so surely, thoughts of people exactly like those he wrote about in his book began to flow through my consciousness. A smile came to my face. Memories of the sweetest sort broadened the smile. And even though I was smiling, sometimes the smile was a sad one. Many of those helping to create the memories now flowing through me were gone. Dead. Their voices never to be heard again; their firm handshake never to be felt again; the probing look of their eyes, gone forever. No longer am I able to smell the rich smells of grandma's kitchen. Nor hear the big belly laugh of my grandfather. I am very pleased Tom Brokaw reminded me of their contributions, even though I don't like him very much.
"The Greatest Generation" is an easy book to read. It oft-times fills you with pride when acknowledging the deeds and sacrifices of others. Of those that came before us. They did what they did because of a solid value system. A universal belief that right, equals might and will, no matter what it takes, be the victor, claiming the right to hoist the flag of human dignity, up the petard.
I don't have to like Tom Brokaw to thank him for causing me to ponder.
He lived until three weeks before the birth of his first grandchild, my oldest daughter. At that time I was almost twenty-five, and in the quarter of a century I had spent being his daughter, he had been for me kind, loving, stubborn, opinionated -- a mildly prejudiced, yet honest, man who could spin a mesmerizing story, tell hilarious off-color jokes or rant about a perceived injustice, depending upon the swing of his mood. And, it was his moods we were taught to tiptoe around - there was often about him a resigned air of despondency and cynicism. There was the perception of a man who had tilted at windmills and lost, badly and often.
After a tough bout with multiple hernia surgeries and emphysema sidelined him into an early retirement in his mid-forties, he reluctantly gave up his beloved,unfiltered Lucky Strikes. Until his death at sixty-two, he would often absentmindedly reach for a cigarette from his top pocket after a meal. At fleeting moments, his penetratingly beautiful blue eyes would gaze at something far away. "What are you thinking of daddy," I wanted so to ask. I always hesitated; the asking seemed an unforgivable offense, a trespass onto the privacy of the place to which he had withdrawn. He viewed the world as a tough place, trying too hard was not his recommendation nor his example to his four children. You accept your lot in life, whatever it is, and you just hang in there until life is over. End of story. I failed to learn anything about motivation, ambition or perseverance from my father then. It was not until years after he was lost to me that I realized his iconoclastic independence could teach me volumes.
There remains in my older brother's possession, an army trunk filled with the memorabilia of daddy's days in the Civilian Conservation Corps and infantry unit. Once, on a rare occasion when he opened it, daddy teasingly held up photographs of luscious Italian beauties he met during his stay overseas. I, fanatically romantic, tossed aside yellowed letters and his prized pictures of the Third Reich, staring in consternation at photos of buxom, blonde beauties lovingly pressing against the bodies of thin, young American servicemen. It was then I learned that not every Italian woman was of the Neapolitan, Sophia Loren breed. No, my father noted, his blonde hair and blue eyes were his ticket into many family meals from friendly Southern Italians eager to open their homes to a lonely, simpatico Americano.
Upon his return home, his stoic, but very Irish Catholic mother admitted burning candles for her three older sons daily before her statue of the Blessed Virgin Mother. Her relief that he had not surprised her with an Italian daughter-in-law was soon stifled with this revelation: "Mom," he told her, "do you have any idea how many Italian mamas decimated the Italian candle supply, praying equally as hard that they would not get stuck with us as their new sons-in-law? Mary, good Jewish mother that she is, must be so confused from all these requests."
Brokaw's The Greatest Generation is a compilation of many heartwarming and heart-wrenching tales of the Big One, both abroad and on the homefront. Far from a glorification of war, he instead gives us glimpses into one special generation of American men and women. Arriving in Normandy in the spring of 1984 to prepare a documentary for the 40th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, Brokaw admits he was "simply looking forward to what I thought would be an interesting assignment." Instead his epiphany prodded him to anthologize the stories he heard walking the beaches with American veterans who "...faced great odds and a late start, but (they) did not protest. 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, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible, across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria. They fought their way up the necklace of South Pacific Islands few had ever heard of before and made them a fixed part of American history - islands with names like Iwo Jima, Guadacanal, Okinawa. They were in the air every day, in skies filled with terror, and they went to sea on hostile waters far removed from the shores of their homeland."
These are tales of ordinary people, made extraordinary by events beyond their control, events that earned them an unrequested place in history. Here was a people who, fully realizing they lived in an imperfect democratic experiment, came to do combat with the absolute evil of two regimes seeking to destroy human rights and indulge in ethnic cleansing. Veterans, like Andy Rooney, then a young reporter for The Stars and Stripes who went to Buchenwald to witness firsthand the rumors of atrocities there. He later wrote: "I was ashamed of myself for ever having considered refusing to serve in the Army. For the first time I knew that any peace is not better than any war."
Brokaw's book is one you'll want to access often for all its poignancy, tragedy, triumph, humor, pride, sacrifice and unbelievable courage. The men, women and families who choose to share their reminisces are but a handful, yet their accumulated experiences will lend an understanding to why Brokaw felt compelled to offer us a collection like this. Further, you will close it knowing why Brokaw, like his readers, have no choice but to conclude: "As I came to know many of them, and their stories, I became more convinced of my judgment on that day marking the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. This is the greatest generation any society has produced. ###
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