Onward toward Fi’ty

25. The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

Brokaw’s book works from his basic thesis that the WWII era generation was a truly great group of people, and attempts to ask how and why. He profiles dozens of people, from men and women who are backbones of their small communities to famous politicians who got their starts in that era. It is humbling and interesting to read many of the stories. Brokaw could be accused of nostalgia, but he does try to admit that the era wasn’t all heroic sacrifice, but that in many places and instances, women and minorities were still treated as second or third class citizens. Of course, Brokaw’s spin on this is that it is because of the heroes of that era that things have changed to whatever extent they have.

I enjoyed the book, even if Brokaw’s attempts to gentle up the conversatism of his subjects seemed to be pandering. Of course, George Bush didn’t think WWII soldiers needed any special advantages. It’s good that he could move the silver spoon in his mouth long enough to tell Brokaw so. Of course, people who are 70-80 years old view marriage as sacred and inviolate and are uncomfortable with divorce. Refusing to acknowledge the problem is real rather than always being a result of whiny self-centered people doesn’t make it go away.

I enjoyed the book, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if Brokaw let his subjects speak more, and editorialized less himself. I’m working on another book right now that does a similar thing to much better effect, and I’ll be discussing that shortly.

T minus 28 days (till due date) on my daughter!



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4 Responses to “Onward toward Fi’ty”

  1. dvance Says:

    You’ve inspired me with your reading quest.

    I think tailor it to my own abilities and go for….. 15 books, and I’ll include audio books (Light in August is on the Ipod right now) and books written at a 6th grade level.

    Wish me luck!

  2. barboo77 Says:

    Sometime I might have to get around an reading that. I thought I would note something interesting that may have in fact made that the “Greatest Generation” which I doubt Brokaw touches on. Literacy rates declined dramatically after WWII (according to basic tests given to all soldiers enlisting or drafted starting with WWI). This coincided with the introduction of “whole language” reading education in replacement of phonics. The “Greatest Generation” may have been the last American generation that was relatively untainted by the social controls and psychological experimentation that has run rampant in compulsory education since then.

    That’s your nerd report for the day!

  3. barboo77 Says:

    28 days!! Plus or minus two weeks! 😉

  4. eljoe1235 Says:

    Barbara, to the extent that Brokaw looks forward (which is fairly small– he tends to focus in the moment of his chosen era), he seems very miffed at the lack of civic interest and awareness. That seems to be his chosen point of blame, and I think it’s fairly well taken.

    For instance, my grandfather, who fought at Normandy, had an 8th grade education, which probably was more like a 4th grade education in modern terms. He was not a man of intellectual pursuits, but he read the newspaper religiously and prided himself on his interest and knowledge in politics and civic affairs. I have no doubt that he kept up with that information much more than I do– notwithstanding my 5 years of private lower education, 8 years of public lower education, 4 years of college, and 3 years of law school.

    I certainly do think that the lack of civic engagement has had some fairly dire consequences in our society. Could this include lack of literacy? I suppose it could, particularly in light of the post WWII boom of our immortal idiot box, the television. The modern sentiment, to grossly overexaggerate, seems to be, “Who needs to read books or go out and actively pursue changing the real world?” And now, I’m sounding as conservative as Brokaw!

    Anyway, not a bad book to check out…


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