The Greatest Generation. Tom Brokaw. New York: Random House, 1998. 412 pages.
The author argues that the generation of Americans who fought World War II, maintained society at home during World War II, overcame the Great Depression and rebuilt the nation of America after the war are the "greatest generation any society has ever produced." The author argues that this generation is often undervalued for their contributions, when they did in fact, give us the lives we live today and create an American society with more to offer than any in the past.
Evidence to Support Thesis.
The book is designed to pay tribute to and make people aware of just what this generation of men and women did for America and how they contributed to the society we have today. The author describes how these men and women battled through World War II, including the battle of war and the battle at home to keep the country functioning. These men and women then returned home and fought to rebuild the nation, uniting in their efforts and never expecting recognition for their efforts. The author describes how the actions of these men and women resulted in the rebuilding of America, giving current society the benefits it enjoys today.
The author makes these points by presenting the personal accounts of a variety of people involved in World War II and the Great Depression. These accounts are primarily of well-known individuals and individuals who became leaders or made great achievements, though there are also some accounts of ordinary people. In all cases, the stories told represents some achievement, whether it be becoming the first woman to find a career other than homemaking, the brave and heroic action of a soldier, or the actions of an individual in contributing to rebuilding society.
The story of Charles Van Gorder, who set up a medical facility in the war and then created a hospital in his hometown in America, is one that shows what people did in the war, as well as after the war. An example of someone who became a leader is George Bush who talks about his time as a pilot in the war and how it impacted on his career. The stories of women are also told, such as Trudy Elion, who found a career in medicine because of the war and later went on to win the Nobel Prize in medicine.
These stories combine ones that show the battles fought in the war itself and those fought at home, both before and after the war. The author presents these stories as a "cross-section" of the actions and achievements of all Americans in the time of World War II and the Great Depression. By this cross-section of stories, the author attempts to show how this generation fought for and won the freedom we have today, and built the foundations for the society we have today.
IV. Personal Reaction
While the author does show how this generation impacted on current society, and does describe the battles some individuals fought, it cannot be said that he proved his thesis. There are several reasons for this.
The nature of the book in the form of personal accounts is one reason the book can be questioned for its accuracy. While the book does use many accounts, the question must be asked, how many accounts did the author have to select from. With his purpose being to show what Americans of this generation did, it is natural that he is going to choose the stories of either those that became famous in some way or those that have heroic stories to tell. While the book proposes to be a cross-section of stories, this cross-section does not really represent the generation as a whole, instead it represents those that did the most. The book does not contain the stories of those that did nothing during the war or the Great Depression, or those that tried and failed.
Putting this issue in perspective, it can be seen that a book based on these techniques can never really offer a clear view of the benefits of an entire generation.…