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The Time of Our Lives: A conversation about America go now, to recapture the American dream Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Featured: A Letter from Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw

My fellow Americans,

When you hear that phrase from a politician, does it seem insincere or anachronistic? Wouldn't it be more honest if they said, "My fellow members of the Divide America club"? For that seems to be the objective these days across the political spectrum--divide, not unite.

For almost a half century I've been reporting on American politics, the American culture and the American dream. I don't remember a time when there was so much anxiety about our common values, vision, and legacy.

So, in The Time of Our Lives I set out to reflect on how we got here, how we may emerge from our current frustrations, and how much we owe future generations. It's at once a personal book, written from the perspective of my working class roots, journalistic background, and the lessons I learned in writing an earlier book--The Greatest Generation. I also wrote this book as a grandfather who felt a certain urgency about providing my grandchildren the same choices and opportunities I had.

You 'll meet a lot of familiar people--President Obama and Rush Limbaugh among them--but the real lessons come from ordinary Americans, past and present, who love their country and worry it has lost its greatest asset: its ability to make this immigrant nation stronger than its many parts by working together.

I begin with a simple question: what happened to the America I thought I knew? I end with an enduring lesson from the American wilderness. In between I encourage everyone to re-enlist as citizens and join me in a conversation about who we are and where we want to go.

I hope you'll join our discussion.

--Tom Brokaw


Praise for The Time of Our Lives

"With commonsense values, [Brokaw] appeals to Americans to recommit to family
and community, increase civic engagement, and make sacrifices in an effort to ensure some security for generations to come. An engaging recollection of the achievements of the past, the realities of the present, and the promise of the future."--Booklist

"[Brokaw] jumps into triage mode with this tenderhearted, nostalgic journalistic roundup, just in time for the upcoming presidential election ... Brokaw is especially good at working the human-interest angle ... An ever-upbeat message from the well-connected yet modest veteran journalist."--Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Boom!
“[Brokaw] approaches this magnum opus with warmth, curiosity and conviction, the same attributes that worked so well for his Greatest Generation.”—The New York Times
“Brokaw does an excellent job of capturing an exciting, controversial period in American history and Boom! is a worthy addition to his growing canon.”—New York Post
Praise for The Greatest Generation
“Offers welcome inspiration . . . It is impossible to read even a few of these accounts and not be touched by the book’s overarching message: We who followed this generation have lived in the midst of greatness.”—The Washington Times

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400064589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400064588
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Grover VINE VOICE on October 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Brokaw has written a thought-provoking and fascinating account of challenges America currently faces both as a society and as individuals. Problems we need to solve if America is going to not only survive but to thrive. He writes about the challenges we face in education as American students continue to fall behind their contemporaries in other countries. He talks about the need for national service as most Americans have never served in the military and as a result have little appreciation for what it took to make this country great, and to keep it great. He explains that there are options other than the military to serve your country.

Mr. Brokaw writes about how people have lost sight of living within their means, and how our politicians have failed to keep America living within its means. He believes more of us need to volunteer in our communities to make life better for all. The great technological advances made over the past couple of decades have opened up vast new opportunities that need to be explored.

If America is to have an honest conversation about some of its most perplexing problems, this book would be a good place to start.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tom Brokaw is from one of the ultimate "heartland states," South Dakota. He says that his lack of aptitude for science and math led him to journalism. He made it big: a face familiar to millions of Americans as an "anchor" on an evening news show. The voice was always one of reason. He has reached the "summing up" part of his life, with grandchildren under foot. Like many of us, he has wondered what has happened to the many virtues that America once had, and if we have the ability to reclaim our way. As he says in his Preface: "I believe it is time for an American conversation about legacy and destiny." From the "Amen Corner,": Past Time.

Brokaw uses the metaphor of the family clock, an heirloom that they have owned for over 100 years. Time continues to move along that singular vector: forward. Certainly the charm of the book are in the anecdotal accounts of his family's history on the High Plains, as well as the stories of various Americans who have tried to make a "difference," who haven't waited for someone else, but initiated their own actions and programs. The adversity of the climate, and the economic failure that was the Great Depression, engendered "community values," in the best sort of way. Bravo for the "good neighbor," but shouldn't we be asking why we need adversity to promote it; and in prosperity, we lose it?

Concerning the issues we need to address, Brokaw focuses on education, the need to downsize our material needs, restore public service, and properly and humanly manage the wonderful new world of interconnectivity. There are some pithy formulations about our abuse of the environment: "Will our freeways become our Easter Island giant statues?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Note - I am just slightly younger than the author, so I have lived through the same interesting times as he. I mention this because I think that it colors my perspective concerning the book, but more about this at the end of the review.

WHAT IS IN THE BOOK - This book consists of 18 chapters grouped into four parts:
1. Getting The Fundamentals Right. This part of the book deals with some of the fundamental problems of our time, namely:
o America's legacy and the complex realities of the 21-first century
o Education in general
o Science education and the needs of the 21st century
o Thrift and living above your means
o The housing crisis
2. Assignment America. This part of the book deals with our relationship with our government and is concerned with:
o America's support for its armed forces
o Alternate public service opportunities
o Public and private initiatives
3. Help Me Make It Through This New Age Dot Com. This part of the book deals with technology and society. It included chapters on:
o The impact of technology
o Journalism in the internet age
o The need for partners
4. What Now Grandma and Grandpa. This is the most personal part of the book. It deals with:
o Is the US ready to accept having only the #2 economy, and an attendant loss of power and prestige
o Can American society learn from its failures
o The idea of his becoming a grandpa

Each chapter follows the same format, which is best explained using one chapter as an example - in this case the one on Education. All the chapters begin with a highlighted box containing a Fact and Questions arising from this fact.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on December 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Time of Our Lives" by Tom Brokaw is an endearing but uneven ramble through space and time. On the one hand, Mr. Brokaw is a wise elder statesman who is keen to pontificate upon important national policy issues; while on the other, he intends to wrap a narrative about his own life including family and friends onto recent U.S. history. Unfortunately, Mr. Brokaw fails to write persuasively about matters of policy and shares but mere fragments of his personal life with us. This unfocused text simply takes on too much and delivers too little to make for a satisfying read.

What should rightly be viewed as the publisher's failure to control this project is too bad, because the affable Mr. Brokaw is at his best when he writes about the many friends and family members who have played a part in his remarkable life. These include loving anecdotes and reflections on his grandparents and parents as well as his own wife, children and grandchildren. The problem is that, like a nightly prime time news report, the story never digs very deeply. The moment we learn, for example, that "Gramp" in his youth had a brief confrontation with the legendary Calamity Jane, by the next paragraph we have zipped forward many decades to Gramp's profound sense of loss upon learning about the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Although Mr. Brokaw probably didn't intend it to come across this way, the people in his life too often serve as props to help illuminate us about national events or issues. In my view, Mr. Brokaw could do much better by bringing us closer to these remarkable people by telling their real stories in depth and on their own terms; and not simply share a few feel-good snippets with us from the family scrapbook.

More problematic, however, is Mr.
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