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A Long Way from Home: Growing Up in the American Heartland in the Forties and Fifties Paperback – September 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his earlier books, TV news anchor Tom Brokaw has leaned heavily on the experiences of others to remember and define what he calls "the Greatest Generation"--those who came of age during World War II and its aftermath. In A Long Way Home Brokaw turns inward to focus on his own experiences growing up in South Dakota, his early years a broadcaster working in a then-novel medium, and his still-deep connection to the Midwestern people, places, and values that shaped him. In this bluntly effective and homespun memoir, Brokaw argues that, no matter how far one may travel--say, to New York and through five decades of a successful broadcast journalism career--it's possible to remain a true creature of the heartlands. It's a message that is likely to resonate most emphatically with those of Brokaw's generation, though its basic premise can be applied more universally as well. --David Bombeck --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

"For as long as I or anyone in my family can remember, I have been a chatterbox, someone with a verbal facility and an eager attitude about exercising it," writes news anchor Brokaw in this follow-up to An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation. The author's tendency to fill space with words comes across loud and clear in these pages, as the book is essentially a soup to nuts oral history of an all-American kid's years growing up in the Midwest. Brokaw was born in 1940 in Webster, S.Dak., and lived in the area for the first 22 years of his life. The son of upstanding farmers who lived by the motto of "waste not, want not," Brokaw had a squeaky-clean childhood and adolescence, ruled by work, sports and family. His memoir reflects that straight-arrowed monotony, with chapters entitled "Games," "Boom Time" and "On the Air." And although the prose and subject matter are largely dry and mundane, Brokaw does occasionally reflect on the bigger picture, recalling, for example, that while he was going to high school basketball games, Rosa Parks's bus boycott was making history hundreds of miles away. His sweet recollections of his early journalism career-he got his start volunteering at a small radio station-will probably interest nostalgic readers more than young journalists. Peppered with photographs of "Mother and Dad helping out at Yankton's Teen Canteen, 1958" and other similar images, this tribute to an idyllic childhood should please Brokaw's loyal fans. Photos.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375759352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375759352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Green VINE VOICE on October 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I picked this up because I had a long commute and it was about the only thing that looked interesting in the library's collection of audio books on CD. What I found was surprisingly charming and entertaining. Mr. Brokaw gives us a biography of who he is, and starts out with his ancestors. He tells how they came to South Dakota, what was important to them, and how that eventually affected him. He includes proper historical setting for the events he relates and in some cases the reasons behind the values they held. He is clearly aware that a part of who he is comes from his ancestry.
He also tells about his own life; where he lived and the memories he has of the various places and people that were a part of his life. I was even impressed that he spent a considerable amount of time dealing with his shortcomings. One chapter tells how his pride and arrogance nearly cost him much of what he holds dear today, such as his career and his wife. I was impressed with the candor with which he discussed the events, rather than trying to excuse himself or simply hide a weakness. Another item that made me smile was telling about how the parents of a friend, who had gone through the Depression, had a difficult time using disposable paper towels, such a wasteful item.
While perhaps a nostalgic view of his life, I found it honest and sincere and I enjoyed listening to it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on December 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Just as my parents turned to Walter Cronkite to bring them the news when I was growing up, I have turned to Tom Brokaw. Through numerous presidential elections, world crises and the horrific days surrounding 9/11, his coverage has been the one I tuned to. To me, Brokaw has a way of delivering the news that makes it seem like a conversation among friends --- with a tone that has feeling and emotion, as well as authority.
A couple of years ago at an AOL Partners Conference, Brokaw was a guest speaker. He had just finished covering the funerals of Lady Di and Mother Teresa, traveling to both from his vacation at his home in Montana. His stories about two long trips to report on these high-profile events back-to-back gave new perspective on the high price that being in the news spotlight carries. His talk was personal as he referenced how the Internet has changed the way we receive news and what it --- and cable --- have done to the relevance of the kind of news he has delivered for the past couple of decades --- network news. Later I heard him moderate a panel about this same subject in the city with some leading journalists from Time, CNN and TheStreet.com. He was the consumate host, approaching the evening's discussion with one caveat. We would be finished by 8:00 as the Yankees were playing in the Playoffs and he was not going to miss the game on television. Sports, which brought him such joy when he was growing up, continue to be a passion.
While Brokaw is great to watch from the studio in New York, the pieces that he has done in Montana and South Dakota have been some of my favorites. He always seems more in his element there in the Heartland than he does standing or sitting at an anchor desk in New York.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Blues Fan on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Tom Brokaw is ten years older than I, but I can identify with many of his experiences in growing up. Like him, I came from a small state that is often ridiculed by those from more urbanized areas (Arkansas in my case). Like him, I was lucky enough to be born to wonderful parents that instilled the right values. Like him, I don't really want to move back to where I came from, but I am eternally grateful for it, love to visit, and continue to be nourished by it.
Brokaw is a thoroughly appealing character in this book. His introduction cites his mother's assessment of the book: that his ego was showing through in some places. True enough, but it's not the sort of display that irritates you--more like the sort where you shake your head and are more than a little charmed. He doesn't spare himself in his account. He was told at one point by his future wife to basically shove off, since he was obviously heading nowhere fast--an assessment that one of his friends cooly confirmed to Brokaw's face. Given where he has gone since then, it's a little comforting to learn that he wasn't some ambitious machine checking off the steps on his ladder to success.
I especially enjoyed his discussion of how his consciousness was raised as regards treatment of American Indians. Time and again, a somewhat cocky Brokaw is shown not to be as smart as he thinks. The response of an Indian woman to his self-assured statement that he knew a lot about Indians since he was from South Dakota--I'll leave that to you to discover. It's a gem.
I've always had a weakness for tales told by people who are out of the limelight, who aren't the immediate images called up when you think of a particular era, who weren't in what some would consider the "mainstream".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tom Brokaw gives us a vivid recollection of his formative years and with that a history of the United States that flows well from page to page. But, Tom, we know you have made a wonderful life for yourself and do not really need to be reminded every third page. Next book, just write about Park Avenue, lovely, elegant trips and celebrities you have met. This book should have been kept to life in the heartland.
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