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The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy Paperback – March 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baby boomers have been vilified as noisy, self-centered, childish, elitist and self-indulgent. Steinhorn forcefully and gracefully defends his age cohort against these stereotypes in a paean to the generation that has forever altered the face of American culture. The so-called "greatest generation," he says, imposed a cultural complacency whose worst elements included racism, sexual inequality and anti-Semitism. Boomers rebelled against their parents' values, striving to create an inclusive society that would recognize the contributions of all of its members. Defying and denouncing authority, the baby boomers protested against an unjust war and challenged an unethical political system. Even after the clamor of the 1960s quieted down, boomers refused to tolerate environmental violations, continued to challenge racial and sexual discrimination, rejected religious intolerance and defied racial and sexual taboos. And despite an apparent conservative turn in America, says Steinhorn, boomer values have in fact permeated our society to the point where a younger generation takes them for granted. This powerful book by Steinhorn, a professor at American University's School of Communications, reminds us that boomers continue to provide the methods and the impetus that are moving many young people today to challenge political arrogance, deceit and jingoism.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

“Lenny Steinhorn presents compelling evidence that Boomers significantly shaped—and improved—their times. This is a counterintuitive examination of a generation that is far more complex and far more influential than is commonly believed.”
—Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington bureau chief
 
While the Greatest Generation deserves our praise for surviving the Depression and fighting in World War II, the Baby Boomers, this book argues, are in many ways as great a generation—if not greater—for how they have advanced equality and freedom at home. It’s fashionable to mock Boomers as self-involved and materialistic. But what really is the true legacy of the Boomers?

To understand how Boomers have changed America, think back to the 1950s—but without the nostalgia. Women were kept at home, minorities were denied their dignity, homosexuality was a crime, and anyone who marched to a different drummer was labeled un-American and viewed as a threat.

Today we live in a far more open, inclusive, tolerant, and equal America than at any other time in our history. And that’s because Baby Boomers, from the Sixties onward, have fought a great cultural war to free America from its prejudices, inequalities, and fears. The Greater Generation tells the story of this generation’s accomplishments—and finally gives Boomers their due.

The Greater Generation reminds us that today’s legacy of social justice, diversity, and individual freedom didn’t just fall from the sky; it’s a consequence of a hard-fought progressive struggle fought on the home front by a morally engaged American generation.”
—Marty Kaplan, Air America radio host and director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern Califormnia Annenberg School for Communication


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (March 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312326416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312326418
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Brent Crane on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As a Generation Xer, it would be easy to buy into the unfortunate media cariacture of Baby Boomers as a largely materialistic and self-indulgent generation bent on exploiting the American dream for their own selfish desires.

But that is simply not the truth.

In a wonderfully written and meticulously argued book, Mr. Steinhorn has thoughtfully described how Baby Boomers have done more to hold America true to its values than preceding generations. On issues ranging from civil rights, womens rights, environmental standards, the workplace and education, the battles fought and won by Baby Boomers have made America a more open, free and egalitarian society.

I read with great interest this important, provocative book. While it may create controvery among those who Mr. Steinhorn describes as "cultural Luddites", nobody can dispute the facts presented by the author.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Nyren on March 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was on my desk for a few days before I dug in. The title had annoyed me a bit. Did the Baby Boomer legacy really need defending? I lived through all of it, was a part of it. Absolutely astounding accomplishments over the last forty years. Sure, I've heard the boomer-bashers, but does anybody take them seriously? They're clueless. Someone like Joe Queenan can be very funny, I've laughed out loud at some of his comments - but basically his whole shtick is to shock - and he's most well-known as one of Howard Stern's second (or third, or forth) bananas. You don't take someone like Queenan (or most conservative and all neocon boomer-bashers) seriously.

The book was still on my desk. I'd glance at it three or four times a day. 'Will this fellow talk about this and this and this? I bet he won't mention this and this and this. And I'm sure he won't talk about this or this or this, because those things aren't on the radar anymore. And I really want to know why this book even had to be written.'

I dig in. Professor Steinhorn is so far ahead of me. He discusses everything - including scores of topics and accomplishments that never occurred to me - even as I lived through them in the 60s, 70s, 80s. What a great read. Why did he feel the need to write this book? It's answered on the first page.

Obviously, I agree with most of the other readers posting here (and all the good reviews are taken) - so I'll simply give you some gut reactions:

Every chapter was a catalyst. I lived my life over and over again -- growing up in the 50s and 60s, politics, culture, social interactions, workplace issues, music, television, religion, women's rights - all dissected and discussed - and brought back all sorts of memories.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Kupke on December 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have not read this book in its entirety. However, speaking as a member of Generation X, or Millenials as we now are more commonly called, I see both positive and negative points in what I have read so far.
The arguments the author makes in defense of the Baby Boomers are most definitely valid. When you look at the greater picture, the Baby Boomers were a revolutionary generation that altered American more than any before. They were a generation that redefined patriotism as meaning something other than total loyalty to political leaders. They were the generation that changed the standard of living, and raise the bar for greater personal freedom and independence of the individual. And they were largely the generation that overcame social upheaval the likes of which had not been seen in nearly a century, to create a nation more diverse yet unified than it had ever been.
However, I feel the author tends to spend so much time trumping the triumphs of the Baby Boomers that he largely ignores their failings. Speaking as one of all too many who grew up in a broken home, the Baby Boomer's ushered in a divorce explosion that will effect those of my age group and our own children, and hence, generations yet to come. They also raised the bar of personal living perhaps a little too high, and for those my age, reality is proving a little more cruel. Indeed, going to college no longer guarantees a great career, no one can ever have their own way all the time, and indeed, sometimes your best is just not good enough.
As the Baby Boomers now enter their twiligh and my own generation bit by bit steps up to start shaping our own legacy, I have come to appreciate the great things the Baby Boomers did. But I am also starting to see the ways they failed. And while this book is definitely true to its topic-defending the Baby Boomer generation as a whole, it is by no means a fair and balanced look at what they leave behind.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By History Buff on March 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is really a fascinating and stimulating book that not only challenges conventional wisdom on boomers but also offers an important perspective on our society and political culture. It'll no doubt anger the self-rightous boomer bashers, and it will certainly raise the blood pressure of social conservatives who wish a return to the social order of the Fifties. But for all the rest of us, this book speaks to our lives and experiences, and it does so eloquently and powerfully. Steinhorn's essential point is that we're a more inclusive and tolerant country than we were before the boomer years - that boomers brought about social change based on the essential values of equality, personal freedom, pluralism, and environmental protection. Unfortunately, we too often take these gains for granted. Boomers have their problems, and Steinhorn acknowledges them, but which generation didn't have problems? And does anyone realistically want to go back to the old ways? So read this book. It'll be an eye-opener.
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