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The Greatest Generation Speaks [Hardcover]

By Tom Brokaw (Author)
Our Price $ 16.96  
Retail Value $ 19.95  
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Item Number 158526  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   464
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.91" Height: 1.42"
Weight:   1.41 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 31, 1999
Publisher   Random House Large Print
ISBN  037540922X  
EAN  9780375409226  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"I first began to appreciate fully all we owed the World War II generation while I was covering the fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries of D-Day for NBC News. When I wrote in The Greatest Generation about the men and women who came out of the Depression, who won great victories and made lasting sacrifices in World War II and then returned home to begin building the world we have today--the people I called the Greatest Generation--it was my way of saying thank you. I felt that this tribute was long overdue, but I was not prepared for the avalanche of letters and responses touched off by that book.
Members of that generation were, characteristically, grateful for the attention and modest about their own lives as they shared more remarkable stories about their experiences in the Depression and during the war years.
"Their children and grandchildren were eager to share the lessons and insights they gained from the stories they heard about the lives of a generation now passing on too swiftly. They wanted to say thank you in their own way. I had wanted to write a book about America, and now America was writing back.
"The letters, many of them written in firm Palmer penmanship on flowered stationery, have given me a much richer understanding not only of those difficult years but also of my own life. They give us new, intensely personal perspectives of a momentous time in our history. They are the voices of a generation that has given so much and wants to share even more.
"Some of the letters were written from the front during the war, or from families to their loved ones in harm's way in distant places. There were firsthand accounts of battles and poignant reflections on loneliness, exuberant expressions of love and somber accounts of loss.
"It seems that everyone in that generation has something worthwhile to contribute, and so we have included some pages in The Greatest Generation Speaks for others to share memories at once inspirational and instructive.
"If we are to heed the past to prepare for the future, we should listen to these quiet voices of a generation that speaks to us of duty and honor, sacrifice and accomplishment. I hope more of their stories will be preserved and cherished as reminders of all that we owe them and all that we can learn from them."             --Tom Brokaw

Front-jacket photo: "She said yes!" An American G.I. had proposed marriage to his girlfriend back home, and when her letter arrived, saying yes, he propped her photograph up in his helmet and had a buddy take this picture.
"When I wrote about the men and women who came out of the Depression, who won great victories and made lasting sacrifices in World War II and then returned home to begin building the world we have today--the people I called the Greatest Generation--it was my way of saying thank you. But I was not prepared for the avalanche of letters and responses touched off by that book--more stories and wisdom from that generation and time. I had written a book about America, and now America was writing back."
        --Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw, a native of South Dakota, graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in political science. He began his journalism career in Omaha and Atlanta before joining NBC News in 1966. Brokaw was the White House correspondent for NBC News during Watergate, and from 1976 to 1981 he anchored Today on NBC. He's been the sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw since 1983. Brokaw has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including two DuPonts, a Peabody Award, and several Emmys. He lives in New York and Montana.
Few children relate easily to the young lives of their parents. Events that precede our own births automatically fall into the category of "history," a distant time however few years have actually passed. For the baby boomers, the army of children produced by the men and women who began their families once the war was over, the disjunction between their world and the world of their parents could hardly have been greater. One represented deprivation, sacrifice, and hard-won prosperity; the other, greatly expanded opportunity and, even during Vietnam, more personal choices.

Those differences led to some historic and well-documented rifts -- indeed, to a cultural revolution that since has cooled. Now, based on many of the letters I received, as the boomers grow older they also become much more aware of what their parents had endured and the legacy of their early challenges.

In watching her father care for her mother after a debilitating stroke, Janet McKeon of O'Fallon, Illinois, realized that the strength of their relationship grew out of their war experience.

As a member of the early Baby Boom generation who lived through the Vietnam years, I thought we were the group who had been wronged, with our boyfriends/husbands fighting in a faraway place in a war that nobody wanted to be a part of, and with no appreciation by others of what we went through.

Your book certainly gave me a different perspective on that. But that's not all your book did for me. It made me wonder about my own parents' participation in and life during the war. Of course I knew my dad had served and that my older sister was born during the war, but he never talked about it and I guess I was never interested enough to ask.

Sad to say, but during the past year my dad and I have had a lot of time to talk since my mother had a stroke and required constant care. I made a three-hour trip home every week to help with her care and it was during this time that he started telling me about their life during the war.

What an eye-opener these stories were to me. It was hard to believe that in all those years since the war they had never complained about those hardships, the separations and the fear of the bombing missions (my dad was a bombardier who flew missions out of England). I had always seen my parents as good, hardworking people but the year that we cared for my mother showed me their strength, which they obviously also had during the war years. My dad cared for her 24 hours a day, never complaining, always appreciative of the help my sisters and I gave, but never demanding or expecting it. My mother endured the helplessness and, at the end, the hopelessness with quiet dignity until she died in May...

My real reason for writing to you is to urge you to use your public voice to remind members of my generation who are still lucky enough to have one or both parents alive, to listen to their stories before they are lost forever.

Mike McReaken, of Manvel, Texas, wrote to describe a similar experience:

My father passed away last year after a three-year struggle with the effects of a severe stroke. He was at home because of the love and devotion of my mother, his wife of 55 years. My dad was at Pearl Harbor on one of the few ships of the line that was able to escape the sneak attack. For many years I tried to get my dad to tell me what it was like on that Sunday morning. He never would -- or could -- talk about it....

It was difficult to read The Greatest Generation without tearing up or being emotionally choked up to know of the hardships, loss and joy that my parents' generation suffered through. After watching my mother care for Dad since the day of his stroke, I always knew it was because of her unconditional love for him, and his deep-seated fear of being placed in a nursing home. But after reading about the many others in The Greatest Generation, I also understand and appreciate more why my parents made the choices and decisions that they did throughout their entire lives together.

Some children of the Greatest Generation have their own memories of the war years. John E. Smith of Soldotna, Alaska, was living in California as a young child.

My first memories are of my grandfather, grandmother, aunt, and mom gathered around the radio at night listening to the news. Night after night this took place. No talking on my part was allowed as every word was listened to with a gravity I have never since felt. Sometimes the broadcasts were very hard to hear, as there was a great deal of static noise. I still remember looking around at my family and seeing faces so serious that I was afraid.

Over time, I learned that my dad was in England getting ready to fight Hitler. I didn't learn until after the war exactly what he did. I did not find out from him, either; my grandmother had to tell me. My father never spoke to me in any detail about the war. I learned that he was part of the Red Ball Express hauling mostly fuel to Patton. He went to Europe six days after D-Day as a buck sergeant and came home a battlefield-commissioned captain. After the war, the Army Air Corps became the Air Force and my father went with the Air Force.

The reason we moved to California was also for the war effort. My mother drove a wrecker for the military. My aunt and grandmother were building airplanes, and my grandfather was a tool and die maker also involved with building airplanes. One of the things that I to this day remember clearly is that I once saw a poster for Rosie the Riveter and she had a blue and white hankie tied around her head. That night when my aunt came home she was wearing the same hankie around her head, and I thought the poster was of her.

I also remember shortages. My grandmother complained the most. Grandma liked to bake and the two most essential things, butter and sugar, were always in short supply. Many people also talk about gasoline being rationed, but rubber, i.e., tires, was also in short supply. My grandfather was something of a genius in repairing tires that were no good. He had built a little "vulcanizer," he called it. He would recap portions of old tires that other people said were not repairable. I remember people coming over at night with an old damaged tire asking Grandpa to please fix it, and he would.

When I was four years old I went from house to house with other kids asking people to donate any old aluminum pots or other aluminum they might have so it could be made into airplanes....

I remember V-E [Day] as very confusing. My mother and aunt broke down and cried. My mother was essentially out of control and no one was able to make her stop crying. I was very scared, and everyone tried to tell me it was because she was so happy, but I could not believe this until much later when she did stop. My dad finally came home in 1946! I didn't even know him.

My father never really spoke to me (or anyone) about the war. When I asked him about his being commissioned an officer in the field, he only said that they were short of experienced men and that he was most experienced so they "appointed" him. He did not like being an officer and resigned his commission in 1946 to become a master sergeant.

My father passed away in 1972. His civilian funeral was held in Riverside, California. We then placed his flag-draped casket on a train. My mother was not in good health and could not go with him on the train. I rode with him in the baggage car to San Francisco, where he had a military burial with full honors. This is where I learned about some of what he had done in Europe. I still do not know how his fellow soldiers learned about his funeral but there were about fifteen men [there]. We spoke a little after the ceremony and they informed me of his bravery and leadership under fire. Most of these men were in tears and there was a lot of emotion displayed for a few moments. Then it was suddenly over, and they all (to a man) began to change the subject and start telling jokes. Each seemed to be embarrassed that they had spoken at all.

I will never forget that day, or those men. I have tears in my eyes now, just writing about it. Like you, I was raised by those men and women who rarely spoke of their sacrifice and heroism. Thank God they were there!

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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More About Tom Brokaw

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Tom Brokaw is a legendary TV journalist, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004, he is the only person to host each of NBC News s major news programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. He has won several awards, including a Peabody Award and seven Emmys. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, among other books. He and his wife, Meredith, have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Robert T. Barrett is a professor of illustration at Brigham Young University and has served as associate dean of the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications. He holds a BFA from the University of Utah and an MA and MFA from the University of Iowa. He is a member of the Society of Illustrators and was awarded the 2010 Distinguished Educator in the Arts Award. He has illustrated such books as The Story of the Walnut Tree; Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of the Christmas Truce;andObama: Only in America. He and his wife, Vicki, are the parents of ten children.


Tom Brokaw currently resides in the state of New York.

Tom Brokaw has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Tom Brokaw

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Compilation of Worthwhile Memories  Oct 20, 2006
This is just a great book containing letters from some of this nation's finest people. It's all about WWII heros, not only on the battle field but also on the home front. It's all about a generation that faced the depression and then WWII with bravery, character, and resolve rarely seen.
Sequel and the Normal drop you Expect  Dec 26, 2004
I thought The Greatest Generation was an American treasure and could not recommend it higher. But this book tries to mine more of that gold and not quite as well. The Great Generation told stories by Brokaw. This book is a sampling of letters written based upon reading the Greatest Generation. And while many of the letters are touching, it doesn't read as professionally as the first book and in many cases becomes redundant. A worthwhile read but not nearly as good as the first.
Responses from the "Greatest Generation"  Aug 4, 2004
In this follow-up to "The Greatest Generation," the members and children of the generation that came of age during World War II describe their experiences, in their own words. This is a first-hand look at the hardships faced and overcome by these individuals, as well as the impact these experiences had on them and their children. Many of these letters were written during the war, and are invaluable in connecting us to that period. I can't help wondering, though, how our age of e-mail, cell phones and instant messaging will be remembered without a permenant record of letters to speak for us to future generations...
Not Just Brokaw  Dec 19, 2003
I was terrifically moved by this recording, and Tom Brokaw was the least of it. The supporting cast really throws themselves into the letters from The Greatest Generation. Nothing is hokey or excessive, but the honest human sentiment is tough to resist.

By contrast, Tom Brokaw sounds like he's phoning in his part of the script. But he has comparatively little to do here. The heavy lifting is done by the professional narrator and actors. A stunner. It's impossible to recommend this edition too highly.

The Greatest Generation  Nov 28, 2001
As the daughter of a Korean War Marine veteran, I must say it was the best gift I ever purchased for my father. This book brought light into the eyes of those who lived during this incredible time and who understood the consequences of war. I believe my father felt relieved to read the stories and letters-to see the images and to realize that his experiences as a soldier and a civilian were very similiar. I am so glad our children have a book of reference such as this; especially after the tragedy of 9/11.... it will help them to understand and appreciate the price of freedom and to better understand the stories of their grandparents. Hats off to you Tom Brokaw!

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