Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tom Brokaw, Boom!

Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation was more than an enjoyable read, it was a moving study of some of America's true heroes. Brokaw produced several other books and media on the topic and all are well worth reading.



But my Hurricane Gustav reading this week was Brokaw's later effort, Boom! Voices of the sixties. Boom is a mixed bag of deep social insight and self-indulgence, wonderful character study and shallow chatter, heartfelt admiration and cursory celebrity info. Being of a certain age, I absolutely loved wallowing in the characters of my youth, from the greatest man on earth during my lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King, to the goofy counter-culture guru Arlo Guthrie.



For many of the boomers, the nineteen-sixties were as much of a revolution as the seventeen-seventies. While this idea displays a certain amount of historical ignorance and self-importance, it does show how crucial many felt the changes happening at this time to be. Some of the changes of the sixties were long overdue, especially civil rights for minorities and women. Some of the revolutionary ideas were counter-productive, including illeagal drugs and increased economic dependence.



Brokaw doesn't pull punches. He shows the sixties as he lived them as a reporter and as a husband and father. His own job made it possible for him to know many of the important people of the time and this book presents them in a "then and now" format. Brokaw's writing flows effortlessy and his characters are absorbing.



Brokaw brings to life a time in our country's past when citizens felt that not only could they make a difference, but that they should make a difference.

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