The Greatest Generation
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The Greatest Generation

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  7,611 ratings  ·  643 reviews
In the spring of 1984, I went to the northwest of France, to Normandy, to prepare an NBC documentary on the fortieth anniversary of D-Day, the massive and daring Allied invasion of Europe that marked the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. There, I underwent a life-changing experience. As I walked the beaches with the American veterans who had returned for...more
Paperback, 412 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Random House Trade (first published 1998)
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I have a strong interest in history, so I found this to be a fascinating peek into the lives of the WWII generation.

This is a series of little real-life vignettes about various people who served in the war in various capacities, and the effect it had on their lives after they returned to civilian life. These are stories of profound loss, life-long love, deep and abiding friendships. There are stories about women who blazed trails in careers previously closed to women because they stepped in to...more
Aric Cushing
Feb 06, 2014 Aric Cushing added it Recommends it for: People who will buy a book for 1 chapter only
The African-American and Japanese coverage in the chapter 'Shame' was the only chapter worth reading. AND HERE ARE A FEW TREATS FROM THE REST OF THE BOOK:

1.) "Among other indignities, Holmes is persuaded that Fort Knox dentists experimented on BLACK (my capitals) soldiers.": I'm sorry Brokaw.... have you been drinking? Is Brokaw suggesting that Holmes made this up?

2.) "When my friends ask whether I ever considered divorce I remind them of the old saying 'We've thought about killing each other,...more
Apr 07, 2011 Suzy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Suzy by: Meagan
To be honest, this book wore thinner and thinner on me until I almost considered quitting (sorry Meg). I guess I liked it fine at first, but the nothing-but-profiles format became boring and pat. I was really quite surprised to find what a sophomoric writer Tom Brokaw is--is that the difference between broadcast journalists and print-media journalists? Or was he "dumbing down" his writing for mass appeal? The book would have been much better had he made some connections, braved some sociological...more
I really wanted to like this book- the idea of a memoir of the greatest generation is fabulous. Unfortunately, I though Mr Brokaw got a little- how can I say this nicely- dull in the telling of a fabulous tale.

But, if one has never met some of the amazing individuals that collectively make the greatest generation, it will do. I am just blessed to have met many folks who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War, and heard them speak for themselves.

My son won a copy of th...more
Sep 11, 2008 Ron rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
Such an engaging topic, too bad Brokaw wasn't up to it. The typical superficial twaddle we've come to expect from our broadcast journalist.
There are some fascinating stories in The Greatest Generation, many of which elicited "I didn't know that!" and "I'm glad I didn't have to go through that!" as I read them. At times, I found myself with watery eyes as I perused some particularly emotional account. I'm glad I read the book, really I am. However, the whole collection of mini-biographies left me feeling like I'd just experienced the USA TODAY McPaper version of these biographical accounts. So, if you're wondering why the rating is...more
Andrew Frueh
I was sadly disappointed in this book, I expected much more. I've found the work by Steven Ambrose and Ken Burns on the WWII generation fascinating and inspiring, but Greatest Generation comes up short. Brokaw's writing was stiff and lifeless, often reading like a high-school student's book report. The book seems to focus on quantity over quality. The short vignettes on each individual never really give the reader much time to appreciate the person or their story. And Brokaw seems to finish each...more
I think any book that gets people to read about history is a good thing. Using short, anecdotal descriptions of various people who contributed to the war effort in WWII Brokaw's book does an excellent job of illustrating the hard work and honor of many members of that generation. There is also a strong theme of providing perspective for our later, somewhat over-entitled generations. However, Brokaw communicates this in the first few pages and then repeats it over and over again throughout the bo...more
Kyle Magin
A mindless valentine to a generation who segregated, polluted, procreated and retired like there was no tomorrow. Thanks for leaving us holding the bag, *ssholes.
Here are my thoughts on reading The Greatest Generation (I apologise in advance for the verbosity):

Over sixteen million American men and women served their country during the second world war and estimates from the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration indicate that just over one million veterans of this war are still alive today. Some reports suggest that veterans of WWII are dying at rates near 1000 per day, which means it will not be long until there are no living memories of...more
John Nevola
Although I don't always agree with him, Brokaw deserves great credit for documenting and immortalizing some of the people who comprise the Greatest Generation.
As more and more of these great warriors pass on every day, we are losing the collective memories and recollections of these people at an astonishing rate. The fact that they were shaken from their near-universal silence to finally share their most disturbing memories and deepest fears is a tribute to Tom Brokaw. He made it "all right" to...more
I know that this book has been hailed as one of the "must-reads" for those interested in World War II, but I found The Greatest Generation to be fairly mediocre. I felt that too often Brokaw inserted his experiences rather than concentrating on the vets he was covering. I will say that Brokaw has a pretty good grasp of the fighting that was going on in both theaters, but he only covered them in vague terms when describing actions where these vets were active.

I did appreciate the fair shake given...more
I read this after the Elm Creek Quilts Sampler, mostly because so much of that series hinges on choices made by the main protaganist during World War 2. So, like following a rabbit trail, that book lead me to this book. It's a book about the many stories from the World War 2 generation. How they grew up in the 1930's during the Great Depression and how when the 1940's came, they were locked in a war with the German Nazis, the Japanese and the Italians. And, it's in their words, these are their s...more
Brokaw shares with us his deep respect and admiration for his parents' generation. As he relates the stories of dozens of people from WWII, he largely lets their lives speak for themselves. A lot of good old-fashioned values are reflected in one vignette after another: hard work, loyalty, commitment, humility, sacrifice, integrity, optimism, human kindness, etc. Each account tells not only of individual's wartime experiences, but also their life since the war; showing how the lessons learned in...more
In our generation, we can only grasp the idea what our grandparent's generation went through growing up through the age of the first world war, the depression, the dust bowl and the rise of Fascism in Europe and Japan, and the growth of a nation into a super power. Yet at the same time, each generation struggles like none other before. Famine on mass levels, mass genocides, corruption within the "systems" that we have to abide in order to even take a deep breath. My only problem is that we canno...more
Oct 21, 2007 Melanie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
my friend Joyce loaned me this book and I am having a hard time putting it down.. I have always been interested in WWII and this book allows a glimpse into the lives of the men and women who eagerly served their country either here or abroad. one thing I find so entrancing are the individual life stories. It starts with where they were in their lives when the war was raging, what was going on in our country at that time and before, how they participated and what happened to them after the war wa...more
I have wondered if my grandparents generation, the ones that were children of the depression and in their early twenties during WW2, were braver than my generation. I was talking to my dad about this and what he thought. He told me some things that Tom Brokaw said about this very topic and it lead me to want to read his book. I enjoyed reading this and have been able to form my own opinion in answer to my earlier question. Lets just say it's not really a matter of bravery but what we expect from...more
I really enjoyed this book. The generation he is referring to is the one that fought in WWII (so born in the late teens, early 20s). It was just a really uplifting read. The entire book is broken up into mini-biographies of countless veterans who participated in the war effort. The first half was much more interesting than the last half. I, personally, have an obssessive interest in WWII, so I really loved the first half - it was filled with the accounts of everyday soldiers - no one you would k...more
This is a lovely book dedicated to the many who served or were influenced by WWII. Each chapter is dedicated to one or two people who tell some of their history. I thought the book was okay because it lacked a lot of detail but considering how many people were mentioned in the book each story would have to be brief. I do think the book is worth reading though. It gives you an overall portrait of the people the lived during that time and all the sacrifices they made to become one of the greatest...more
Stories of those in my parents' generation who lived through the Depression, World War II and lived lives of service, honor and responsibility because of the lessons learned from these events. Difficulties like these build character

Why didn't Mr. Brokaw include those who contributed by serving their country as conscientious objectors? My dad fought forest fires in Glacier National Park for the Civilian Public Service. He worked for $2.50 a month and fought fires on foot that were as diffic...more
Kacie Drake
This book moved me and excited me to remember both of my grandfathers and the lives their generation lived with courage coming out of the Depression and into the War. I was taken back to the Normandy I visited a couple years ago, was hooked into the stories of immense loss but determination to survive. I felt like I was able to enter into the stories of war and love, success and failure, and above all, was moved to deep appreciation for a time in our country that exemplified unified action rathe...more
Arturo is reading this for his English class, so I thought I would read it too. Not great literature (some pieces read like a high school student essay), but if you take Tom Brokaw's enthusiasm with a grain of salt, enjoyable enough. The stories of hardships people overcame gave me some perspective on our difficulties. Is it possible to live without a cell phone? WiFi? A big house? Heat? I found it an engaging intro to this period of history, pre- through post- WWI. Maybe now I will go read some...more
I loved this collection of stories from the World War II generation, which included my parents. As a baby boomer, I never completely understood why my father hated my generation so much, and why the generation gap was so wide. Thanks to Brokaw's book, I feel that I finally get it. I'm just sorry that I didn't read it while they were still alive so I could discuss it with them.
Deb Lynch
Well....I really cannot recommend this one. Mr. Brokaw just never managed to bring this one home. Yes, it's a collection of stories about people who were young during the time of WWII. And he tries to tell stories (true stories) that demonstrate the collective character and overall mood of the country at that time. But he just never sells it. Waste of time. Sorry, Tom.
As both a child of the Fifties and an American Studies major in college, I have long been fascinated by the decade prior to my birth. In short, I am interested in understanding the societal factors that shaped me into what I am. I so admire the people of this greatest generation who often lived by the skin of their teeth with such extraordinary grace, optimism, and determination.

While I found the stories of the "ordinary people" interesting, the narratives of the familiar names became a bit tedi...more
I hate to give out five stars too lightly, but this book has a chapter about Margaret Ringenberg. It also helps that Tom Brokaw mentions Fort Wayne, Smith Field, and Morris (the Banker from Grabill).
Dave Tucker
You'd need to be either thick or thick-skinned to criticise the concept of this book - an established USA journalist decides it is time to honour the WW2 generation by interviewing many of those who went to Europe to fight for the freedom of other nations - so the many five-star reviews are inevitable. In fact, it is well written and draws us in by not only focusing on war activities - a turn-off for many - but on the whole lives of these warriors and their families. Not just a WW2 book, there i...more
Brokaw sucks as a writer. This should have been the easiest of subjects to make interesting & he made it a painful read. I would never read another book by this author.
the book hails people like caspar weinberger.
J. Else
"It is a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor..."

This book celebrates how amazing my grandfather's generation was. After reading it, I was saddened that this generation is almost lost to us, inspired by the stories, and grateful that this book was written to preserve a people so extraordinary and selfless.

"...wars are celebrated for what they achieved. For the warriors who live, the consequences of war become a lifelong condition."

Just read page 24, the last three paragraphs i...more
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Thomas John Brokaw is an American television journalist and author, previously working on regularly scheduled news documentaries for the NBC television network, and is the former NBC News anchorman and managing editor of the program NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. His last broadcast as anchorman was on December 1, 2004, succeeded by Brian Williams in a carefully planned transition. In the later...more
More about Tom Brokaw...
Boom! Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections The Time of Our Lives: A conversation about America; Who we are, where we've been, and where we need to go now, to recapture the American dream A Long Way from Home An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation

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“A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility ” 7 likes
“there on the beaches of Normandy I began to reflect on the wonders of these ordinary people whose lives were laced with the markings of greatness.” 6 likes
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