A seventeen-year-old who enlisted in the army in 1941 writes to describe the Bataan Death March. Other members of the greatest generation describe their war - in such historic episodes as Guadalcanal, the D-Day invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, and Midway - as well as their life on the home front. In this beautiful American family album of stories, reflections, memorabilia, and photographs, history comes alive and is preserved, in people's own words and through photographs and time lines that commemorate important dates and events. Starting with the Depression and Pearl Harbor, on through the war in Europe and the Pacific, this unusual book preserves a people's rich historical heritage and the legacy of the heroism of a nation.
Ever since he released his tribute to The Greatest Generation, Brokaw has been inundated, happily, by a generous and appreciative outpouring of responses from those who built modern-day America. Their voices in his sequel, The Greatest Generation Speaks, triggered even more memories of the American experience in WWII. To honor both these additional stories and the new WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. (proceeds from the book will help fund it), Brokaw has compiled this new collection of letters and photos in an arrangement that is, appropriately, both familial and formal. Most of the selections were written by men who served in the armed forces, but Brokaw also includes letters from veterans' wives, children and grandchildren who have inherited a legacy they want to share. Brokaw divides the contributions into categories such as "The Great Depression," "The Home Front" and "The War in Europe," and provides a brief overview of each period. Although his historical introductions are somewhat simplistic accounts of well-known events, he does include more controversial information on the internment of Japanese-Americans and the racism within the armed forces. But the strength of this collection lies in the engrossing and evocative letters. They document the actual experiences of men and women who risked their lives and endured great hardships for what they strongly believed was a good cause. Women widowed by the war provide haunting memoirs of the young men they loved and lost. Running through the correspondence are the values of patriotism, self-sacrifice and courage under fire that so characterized this wartime generation. 90 b&w photos, time lines and maps. Agent, Ken Starr. (May 8) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 29, 2002
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Excerpt from An Album of Memories by Tom Brokaw
For the past three years I have been immersed in the stories of what I call the Greatest Generation, those American men and women who came of age in the Great Depression, served at home and abroad during World War II, and then built the nation we have today. In two books, The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, I documented their stories of bravery and sacrifice, achievement and humility, loyalty and service.
The reaction to these books has been deeply gratifying. Members of that generation, characteristically, are modest and yet quietly proud of what they have achieved individually and collectively, and proud also to have had their accomplishments recognized at this stage of their lives. In turn, their children and grandchildren tell me that they are reexamining their own lives and values, measuring them against the legacy of their parents and grandparents. It is a kind of symbiotic effect in which the generations, by interacting, are giving new meaning to their lives.
It was a common trait of the Greatest Generation not to discuss the difficult times and how they shaped their lives, but now, in their twilight years, more and more members of that remarkable group of men and women are determined to share their experiences.