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The Greatest Generation

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  15,196 ratings  ·  992 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, 464 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published December 1st 1998)
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Jenny I purchased the Kindle edition from Amazon in January this year for $1.99.

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Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aric Cushing
Jan 29, 2014 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,
Kyle Magin
Sep 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Ronda Sheldon
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have. even greater admiration & respect for the amazing generation of my grandparents. Thank you, Mr. Brokaw, for the stories, the history, the incredible look into the lives of the men & women in this book.
I was especially shaken by the look into marriage & commitment. Sadly, our world has taken a nonchalant, all-about-me view of marriage. I pray, as weal love need to, that we will see the dire need to restore our faith in each other & our commitments till death do us part.
Oct 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
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
John Nevola
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Isabelle Oviedo
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Greatest Generation is a very moving non-fiction novel that contains real life fascinating stories of WWII and the Great Depression that give you a look into the lives of veteran soldiers telling their story to Tom Brokaw. Former anchor on NBC News, Tom Brokaw, searches for veterans from WWII and the witnesses of the Great Depression to tell their story about their day in what Brokaw calls The Greatest Generation. The Greatest Generation is filled with many facts about the war and struggles ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: do-not-recommend
This book recently resurfaced for reasons that escape my comprehension but I suspect have to do with the current US president. I read this when it was first published and wish I could have back those wasted moments. Brokaw was a media man, a talking head and his writing ability made this painfully obvious. The book was written on an elementary school age level - or perhaps that was the intelligence of those he was attempting to reach.
Additionally, as with most talking heads, this book was nothi
Nov 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Steve Spence
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read about a most excellent generation. While the underlying theme is the same for each person reflected upon in this book, it is their personal stories that make this book so interesting. For the history buffs, this book will confirm your suspicions of the WWII generation. For everyone else, it will explain that unique characteristic that set your grandparents or great grandparents apart from the current generations that you know.
Frances Bonardi
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, it gave real insight into the lives and values of my parents, who were mostly silent on the things that they had gone through as children, and through the war years of WW 2 . A must read for history buffs, and anyone who is lucky enough to have parents from that the Greatest generation
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading the book was like listening to Tom Brokaw in my head. Enjoyed this tremendously, loved the "life perspective" that each person gave and Tom interpreted at the end of each chapter. Not a surprise that I agreed with most of them. I have not had an acceptable appreciation for the sacrifices made in WWII. Thank you Mr Brokaw, I will learn more and seek to right my wrong.
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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).
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
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
Judith Singer
May 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is the single most disappointing book I have ever read. There were no insights. There was no consistent theme. There was no analysis beyond "Aren't they wonderful?" It was nothing but a series of 2-3 page vignettes. Brokaw seemed to make a point of people coming out of exactly the same experiences with very different beliefs about politics, religion, race, etc., but never speaks of it, much less discusses why that occurred. He included a high proportion of elected officials - does he think ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, history, nonfiction, wwii
Pretty good set of mini-biographes, which seek to show by example the range of virtues and lives that members of "The Greatest Generation" lived. They all had very impressive lives, of course. The writing style is a bit uneven and doesn't do them all justice, but still a very informative read.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I enjoyed this book, many good stories. But I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands of equally heroic stories, perhaps even better and more exciting. I feel like Brokaw may have skipped a few great ones, perhaps already written about, but they would still have been fine in this collection.
Scott Hanni
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good read... It really helps you understand why your grandparents acted the way they did if you're a part of my generation.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful collection of stories about the Greatest Generation, those that survived the Great Depression and WWII.

I feel completely indebted to them. The amount of work they did to save our country and allow it to prosper is incredible. I feel inspired to make a difference as big as they have. Their stories should never be forgotten.

The one downfall to this book is, as others have mentioned, Brokaw's writing style. While he is certainly a storyteller, I often found the writing to be s
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Underwhelming. I guess maybe it's because my parents pretty much epitomized virtually every story in this book: grew up poor in the Depression, served overseas in WWII, married their hometown sweetheart, went on to live good lives and really never wanted to talk about the war. Don't get me wrong. I think my parents and their generation were pretty great too. It's just that all the stories were basically the same. For instance, is WWII the only war where no one came home with PTSD? No one got a " ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this because it was too boring. A couple times some of the stories began to be interesting but that was about the best of it. No wonder I trip over these in the thrift stores, which is where I got mine. However, I don't want to discourage anyone from reading it.

I picked it up because I deeply respect the WW2 vets and that era. The book just never got off the ground for me. Maybe I was excepting too much, or watched too many interesting WW2 documentaries.

The 1/3ish of the book I
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
They were called the Greatest Generation for many, many reasons. It seems people were more hopeful then, more willing to put in hard work and create a life on their own. It cannot be ignored, however, that through higher taxes on the wealthy, the USA invested more in the country's infrastructure than ever before, as well as opportunities for those returning from war.
Carolyn Parker
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book of 400 pages would have made a great 200 page book. It was interesting and provided some good insights, but seem to drag on a bit too long. Some books I hate to see end and some I am glad to have finished. I'm afraid this fell into the latter.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Tom Brokaw is a better broadcaster than writer, but I'll forgive him for that because these stories were so incredible, admirable, every-positive-adjective-I-can-think-of. Such powerful examples of courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and patriotism.
Ethan Martin
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some very touching stories ,that make you really appreciative for what we have.
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Mentor Texts: Mentor Texts 1 1 May 01, 2016 08:15PM  
Other WWII Non-Fiction Must Reads? 3 8 Jan 25, 2016 05:42PM  
Other WWII Non-Fiction Must Reads? 1 1 Sep 11, 2015 01:35PM  
  • The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945
  • To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian
  • Duty:  A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War
  • Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches
  • We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
  • War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars
  • Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
  • The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion
  • My War
  • A Reporter's Life
  • Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis
  • What Ifs? of American History: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been
  • Up Front
  • Abandon Ship!: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the Navy's Greatest Sea Disaster
  • American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation
  • Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers
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
“A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility ” 8 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.” 8 likes
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