Reflections on America and the American experience as he has lived and observed it, by the bestselling author of The Greatest Generation.In this beautiful memoir, Tom Brokaw writes of America and of the American experience. From his parents' life in theThirties, on to his boyhood along the Missouri River and on the prairies of South Dakota in the Forties, into his early journalism career in the Fifties and the tumultuous Sixties, up to the present, this personal story is a reflection on America in our time.
"For as long as I or anyone in my family can remember, I have been a chatterbox, someone with a verbal facility and an eager attitude about exercising it," writes news anchor Brokaw in this follow-up to An Album of Memories: Personal Histories from the Greatest Generation. The author's tendency to fill space with words comes across loud and clear in these pages, as the book is essentially a soup to nuts oral history of an all-American kid's years growing up in the Midwest. Brokaw was born in 1940 in Webster, S.Dak., and lived in the area for the first 22 years of his life. The son of upstanding farmers who lived by the motto of "waste not, want not," Brokaw had a squeaky-clean childhood and adolescence, ruled by work, sports and family. His memoir reflects that straight-arrowed monotony, with chapters entitled "Games," "Boom Time" and "On the Air." And although the prose and subject matter are largely dry and mundane, Brokaw does occasionally reflect on the bigger picture, recalling, for example, that while he was going to high school basketball games, Rosa Parks's bus boycott was making history hundreds of miles away. His sweet recollections of his early journalism career-he got his start volunteering at a small radio station-will probably interest nostalgic readers more than young journalists. Peppered with photographs of "Mother and Dad helping out at Yankton's Teen Canteen, 1958" and other similar images, this tribute to an idyllic childhood should please Brokaw's loyal fans. Photos. (Nov. 5) Forecast: Ubiquitous media will get Brokaw's book going, and holiday sales should be strong. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from A Long Way From Home by Tom Brokaw
In 1962, I put my home state of South Dakota in a rearview mirror and drove away. I was uncertain of my final destination but determined to get well beyond the slow rhythms of life in the small towns and rural culture of the Great Plains. I thought that the influences of the people, the land, and the time during my first twenty-two years of life were part of the past. But gradually I came to know how much they meant to my future, and so I have returned often as part of a long pilgrimage of renewal.
When I do return, my wardrobe and home address are New York, my job is high-profile, and my bank account is secure, but when I enter a South Dakota caf ' or stop for gas, I am just someone who grew up around here, left a while back, and never really answers when he's asked, "When you gonna move back home " I am caught in that place all too familiar to small-state natives who have moved on to a rewarding life in larger arenas: I don't want to move back, but in a way I never want to leave. I am nourished by every visit.
On those trips back to the Great Plains I always try to imagine the land before it was touched by rails and plows, fences and roads. I can still drive off the pavement of South Dakota highways, find a slight elevation in the prairie flatness, and look to a distant horizon, across untilled grassland, and with no barbed wire or telephone poles or dwellings to break the plane of earth and sky. It is at once majestic and intimidating. More than a century after the first white settlers began to arrive, the old Dakota Territory remains a place where nature rules.