Book Review: The Greatest Generation
Updated: Feb 8, 2018
OK- first things first...#TheGreatestGeneration is the generation who grew up in the Great Depression and then fought in World War II. The name was made popular by Tom Brokaw's book titled: The Greatest Generation.
So at Christmas time, I was talking to a family member and she asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She was a history teacher for many years, and I told her to get me a book on history - whatever period...surprise me - I just wanted a book that she specifically picked out for me. I was super curious what she would choose.
She gave me Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation and I have to say it was a great pick.
In fact, I think every 20-30 year old should read this book. It is that important.
Why? Because this is a book that tells the stories of young men and women who are in that same stage of life. Today, it seems like the Greatest Generation and Millennials are worlds apart - unable to understand each other and the huge cultural differences. This book is a great bridge, and definitely worth the read.
#Millennials get a lot of flak (not to say that it isn't somewhat deserved). A simple search on YouTube will pull up all kinds of parodies and scripts making fun of Millennials. Like this one:
In our society, it's almost the easiest way to go viral. Like there must be some unwritten rule of #HowToGoViral that includes:
Step. 1 Make Fun of Millennials.
Step. 2 Post Cat Memes.
To be honest, making videos like that might be a great way to go #viral, and it might be an easy way to get some laughs...but it's not going to do anything to help.
As a Millennial who hates being lumped into the stereotype, can I give some advice?
If you want to make a difference, make history important again! Make it interesting. Make it personal. Remind Millennials that history ain't boring. Remind them that #historymatters. It's not enough to make fun or complain that the upcoming generation is selfish, lazy, or _______. I'm looking at you #babyboomers. And on that note, listen up #Millennials...HISTORY MATTERS! Mutual Respect is key.
Tom Brokaw captured the very essence of this in his book, The Greatest Generation . (Enjoy this great book - but know that it does contain stories of veterans from World War II and as such there's some language and vivid scenes of intense warfare described.)
Each chapter is broken up into several personal stories. The stories typically are only 4-5 pages in length so they are very easy to read. Each story is different in that they are personal stories, but over and over and over you hear the same themes:
Self Sacrifice. Personal Responsibility. Strong Commitment to Community. Helping Others. Hard Work. Honesty. Faith in God. Patriotism.
I mean, I think jut about everyone can agree that in general these are good things. This isn't a preachy book. But boy - it's difficult to read it without seeing the valuable lessons of the Greatest Generation. Politics aside...every generation needs to know these lessons, and it seems that perhaps the Millennial generation is lacking in these crucially important values.
I would venture to say that perhaps no other generation can share these values better than the Greatest Generation; because, they faced hardships that no one else has faced and came out uniquely strong because of it.
They went through the lack of basic necessities during the Great Depression, but they learned that they could get along without. They were young and wanted to have fun, but they learned the honor of self sacrifice during the war. They were scared wide eyed kids, but they learn courage and maturity as they stormed the beaches and flew through the skies to defeat an enemy that was systematically torturing and committing genocide. When they got home, they learned they were not afraid to take personal risks anymore - they dreamed big, and took action to make their dreams happen. When they failed, they had already experienced so much loss, that losing financially was not something debilitating - they just picked up and moved on. Failing in jobs, relationship difficulties and marital disputes...these were not the types of things that paralyzed them. They had been through the loss of everything, they had been through hell on earth and they were ready to move on with their lives and make up for lost time.
In a lot of ways, Millennials are at the same starting point: young, wanting to have fun, scared, wide eyed, afraid of taking personal risks but big dreamers...they just haven't found the bridge to the other side of that equation yet and unlike the Greatest Generation they haven't been forced over it. This book is perfect for the young person who is trying to figure out life. It helps you see the big picture.
Despite the name of the book, Tom Brokaw doesn't paint that generation as the golden poster boy on the pedestal who can do no wrong.
One thing I really appreciated about this book is that it didn't attempt to paint a false reality of a perfect "back in the good ol' days" time. Tom Brokaw writes the stories of shame, and the stories of difficulty along side the stories of heroism, which I think gives it more credibility. I think it makes history more interesting when characters are real, don't you?
I definitely recommend reading this book! And just for your convenience you can click here* to buy it now!
*disclaimer: I make a small commission off of purchases made through that link.