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Outline ReviewThe popularity and credibility of charismatic news anchor Tom Brokaw ensured bestseller status for The Greatest Generation, Brokaw's homage to the Americans who survived and overcame the depression and World War II. The Greatest Generation Speaks expands his thesis that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those tough and courageous men and women for ensuring the freedoms and comforts that Americans enjoy today. Their stories, culled from letters, interviews, and personal histories of the Greatest Generation and their family members, are anecdotal but extremely powerful, showing how men and women were sustained by simple ideals of patriotism, family, and fair play. This individualistic portrait is exactly how Americans saw themselves: Brokaw's book is a valid reflection of the times.
During a period of economic hardship and in a country united by the war effort, choices were simple; few people questioned why America was fighting Germany and Japan. Adversity brought out the best, especially in an optimistic culture like America's. As the soldier who found Beethoven's pianos in a Weimar house says after his unit is shelled, "Nothing like a close call to make the morning more beautiful." The greatest impression that war veterans seem to carry back from war is a sense of comradeship that, in spite of pain and loss, render their war years the most rewarding of all their life experiences. Modern life doesn't necessarily have the same certainties. The Greatest Generation Speaks is a healthy reminder of the foundations on which American society is built. --John Stevenson
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