Tom Brokaw has turned his popular book The Greatest Generation
into a trilogy. After that first success came The Greatest Generation Speaks
. Now there's An Album of Memories
, a collection of letters and photos sent to Brokaw by readers who grew up during the Depression and came of age during World War II.
An Album of Memories simply overflows with nostalgia. "We were privileged to grow up in a time when honor, truth, loyalty, duty, and patriotism were real and meant something," writes Robert Cromer. Another correspondent, Douglas G. Fish, describes his own wartime experience--and that of many others--with an elegant simplicity: "I went in the service as a boy and came out a man." There are poignant letters from the dead. One reader submitted this one, sent home in 1942: "Dear Mom, I got your package and Dot's letter today. Boy, the cookies were swell, all the boys send their thanks. Not a one of them was crushed either." Almost exactly a year later, the writer was killed on a bombing run. Another man shares "the last letter my father wrote, three days before he died." It reads: "Tomorrow is D-Day at Iwo Jima--right on Japan's front doorstep--we will go in and lay nets sometime during the assault.... I have faith in God to help us through to victory but am prepared to die for America and face our Lord if He so wills it." The son who sent this letter to Brokaw wasn't even born until after his father had been killed: "I read [this letter] every year on Memorial Day, cry a lot, and think of what a hero he was," he writes.
It's hard not to agree with that assessment, and it applies to so many of those who fought bravely in Europe or the Pacific, as well as those who maintained the home front. All of them have their say in this attractive volume. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
Ever since he released his tribute to The Greatest Generation, Brokaw has been inundated, happily, by a generous and appreciative outpouring of responses from those who built modern-day America. Their voices in his sequel, The Greatest Generation Speaks, triggered even more memories of the American experience in WWII. To honor both these additional stories and the new WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. (proceeds from the book will help fund it), Brokaw has compiled this new collection of letters and photos in an arrangement that is, appropriately, both familial and formal. Most of the selections were written by men who served in the armed forces, but Brokaw also includes letters from veterans' wives, children and grandchildren who have inherited a legacy they want to share. Brokaw divides the contributions into categories such as "The Great Depression," "The Home Front" and "The War in Europe," and provides a brief overview of each period. Although his historical introductions are somewhat simplistic accounts of well-known events, he does include more controversial information on the internment of Japanese-Americans and the racism within the armed forces. But the strength of this collection lies in the engrossing and evocative letters. They document the actual experiences of men and women who risked their lives and endured great hardships for what they strongly believed was a good cause. Women widowed by the war provide haunting memoirs of the young men they loved and lost. Running through the correspondence are the values of patriotism, self-sacrifice and courage under fire that so characterized this wartime generation. 90 b&w photos, time lines and maps. Agent, Ken Starr.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.