Tom Brokaw - Boom!: Voices of the Sixties

Not having previously read The Greatest Generation, I didn't know what to expect in Boom!. I'm not a huge Tom Brokaw fan. I thought his coverage of the Vice Presidental debate on October 2, 2008 was horrible. It sounded like he (and the other news commentators) had a pre-packaged, post-debate review they were going to give, and in fact did give, regardless of what the debate sounded like. The public didn't seem to be fooled by the assessment that Palin held her own and the debate was even. McCain/Palin proceeded to dive in the polls before their November loss. (I'm writing this on October 21, 2008, but their November loss is a foregone conclusion even now.)

Even though Brokaw comes off as even handed on the TV, he is anything but in this book. He is quite liberal in his views in writing. He says many things in print that I can't envision him saying on TV. This is a good thing. Hearing his real views is refreshing compared to the stuffy attitude he puts across on camera.

Boom! is essentially dozens of mini-biographies with Brokaw's commentary mixed in. I learned more than a thing or two about the late sixties and early seventies, a time I was too young to remember. Whether you lived through the sixties and are ready for a recap or just want to understand that time in American history better, Boom! is an interesting place to start.

from the publisher:
In The Greatest Generation, his landmark bestseller, Tom Brokaw eloquently evoked for America what it meant to come of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Now, in Boom!, one of America’s premier journalists gives us an epic portrait of another defining era in America as he brings to life the tumultuous Sixties, a fault line in American history. The voices and stories of both famous people and ordinary citizens come together as Brokaw takes us on a memorable journey through a remarkable time, exploring how individual lives and the national mindset were affected by a controversial era and showing how the aftershocks of the Sixties continue to resound in our lives today. In the reflections of a generation, Brokaw also discovers lessons that might guide us in the years ahead.

Boom! One minute it was Ike and the man in the grey flannel suit, and the next minute it was time to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” While Americans were walking on the moon, Americans were dying in Vietnam. Nothing was beyond question, and there were far fewer answers than before.

Published as the fortieth anniversary of 1968 approaches, Boom! gives us what Brokaw sees as a virtual reunion of some members of “the class of ’68,” offering wise and moving reflections and frank personal remembrances about people’s lives during a time of high ideals and profound social, political, and individual change. What were the gains, what were the losses? Who were the winners, who were the losers? As they look back decades later, what do members of the Sixties generation think really mattered in that tumultuous time, and what will have meaning going forward?

Race, war, politics, feminism, popular culture, and music are all explored here, and we learn from a wide range of people about their lives. Tom Brokaw explores how members of this generation have gone on to bring activism and a Sixties mindset into individual entrepreneurship today. We hear stories of how this formative decade has led to a recalibrated perspective–on business, the environment, politics, family, our national existence.

Remarkable in its insights, profoundly moving, wonderfully written and reported, this revealing portrait of a generation and of an era, and of the impact of the 1960s on our lives today, lets us be present at this reunion ourselves, and join in these frank conversations about America then, now, and tomorrow.