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The Greatest Generation Hardcover – May 11, 2004

722 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tom Brokaw was born in 1940, but it wasn't until he was a famous newscaster that he began to contemplate what his parents' generation--those born between 1910 and the mid-1920s--had accomplished. Narrating his own book, he discusses the sacrifices those men and women made: the bodily harm they suffered in war, the diligence with which they built families and businesses, the courage they displayed in rehabilitating their war wounds, the integrity and values that infused their lives. "They never whined or whimpered," Brokaw notes. The stories these men and women tell Brokaw are consistently startling--triumphant, tragic, courageous, sad, miraculous. Although Brokaw never gets maudlin or sappy, most people will find it impossible to listen to this audiobook with dry eyes. (Running time: 4 hours, 3 cassettes) --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-Brokaw defines "the greatest generation" as American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America. The vehicle used to define the generation further is the stories told by a cross section of men and women throughout the country. The approximately 50 stories are listed in the table of contents under eight topics: Ordinary People; Homefront; Heroes; Women in Uniform and Out; Shame; Love, Marriage and Commitment; Famous People; and the Arena. The individuals are brought to life by photographs within each chapter. YAs will find this book to be a good resource for decade and World War II research. Unlike any era YAs have known, the 1940s are characterized by a people united by a common cause and values.
Carol Clark, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Har/DVD edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063147
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (722 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 144 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my children. I am so thankful that someone told this story. This Greatest Generation is slowly slipping away. I am a baby boomer and my father [their grandfather] was an Italian immigrant. He was very aware of the freedom he enjoyed in this country and was willing to fight against the tyrrany of a very sick dictator! Their other grandfather fought at Pearl Harbor. Their future wives worked hard here at home for the war effort. Both men thankfully survived to go on and help rebuild this country where their families could grow up safely and with more opportunities than they knew. These dear family members have now passed on. I wanted my children to understand what their grandparents endured and to be very proud of the unselfishness of that Greatest Generation. They didn't have state-of-the-art everything, but they had loyalty, integrity, determination and grit that far overshadowed any doubts or fears. Their example of selflessness was an honorable trait. We should all strive to emulate their noble character.
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132 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on August 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This very moving book teaches more lessons than I can include in one review. By now most readers probably already know the basic theme - it's the story of a number of representatives of the generation that lived through the depression, fought World War II, and built post-war America. Many of the stories will bring tears to your eyes and make you recognize how far we have fallen from the standard of sacrifice and non-whining patriotism that these people took for granted as standards to live by.
But perhaps I can point out an additional, less-commented-on lesson from the book: Despite the consistent themes of responsibility and duty which underlie almost every account, these people were far more diverse than we today have given them credit for. They were not monolithically conservative, worshipers of the Establishment, traditionally religious, obsessed with making money, conformist gray-flannel people with 2.6 kids and a stay-at-home mom in each family. For example, when the Viet Nam war and the associated 60s protests arrived, the reactions and tolerance levels of these people varied widely. Their values and lifestyles were about as diverse as those we find in our new century.
The one clear difference between that generation and subsequent ones can be summed up in two words: no whining. In the entire book, I don't recall a single individual even mentioning the word "rights" as they applied to himself or herself. No one believed that he or she was entitled to special privileges or to live at the expense of anyone else. No one expected the world to be fair. They took the world as they found it, and made the best of it.
The only failure that the Greatest Generation can be charged with is that they were so successful in building a society where everything came easily.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth G. Scheffel on December 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read the book and I've read some of the reviews. The book is an easy read. It is not a literary breakthrough, but a good story about a sometimes forgotten generation. The accusations by reader/reviewers of racism, bias, poor research, poor enunciation are surprising. It is too bad we cannot read and enjoy a book for what it is: A tribute to some of those who fought and preserved our freedom. I didn't expect to read a factual history, detailed analysis, of the period and I am surprised that others did. I enjoyed the stories, the point of view and even the parts that I found too wordy and somewhat boring. But, I guess I'm too tolerant.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on October 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The theme throughout the book is that the generation of Americans that participated in World War II rarely talk about it. My father might have been one of Tom Brokaw's examples. While I was regaled with tales of self-reliance and want during a depression, he almost never spoke about his experience in the African campaign, or the wound that nearly cost him a leg. The author made it a point of finding out a good many stories, not unlike Dad's, even as these veterans are now dying at the rate of 1800 a day. Each page was like going back to my childhood, and listening to stories I never heard before.

Brokaw leaves no stone unturned or class of veteran out in the cold. He starts with ordinary people, the people on the home front, heroes, women in uniform and out, [our] shame, love, marriage and commitment, and famous people.

The ordinary people were just that, ordinary in an extraordinary way. Parents and kids were compelled to survive by keeping the family unit intact. Parents searched for any job that would bring cloth or food to the home, and children disciplined by denial, accomplished a full day of work before going to school. They made do, they went without, or they made it themselves. These were the people who were already in training for their participation in World War II, but didn't realize it.

The people on the home front toiled eighty-hours a week to keep the troops in equipment and supplies. Farm boys were highly sought after by Boeing, builders of the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Super Fortress. The company knew that when the farm tractor broke down it had to be fixed, on the spot, without help. Their intuition paid off many times over.

The home front could also be said to be the start of the women's movement.
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