Tom Brokaw has done it again with Boom! He has taken the people and events of an era and created a lively, engaging picture of a cataclysmic period in American history.
The 60s may be over but forty years later we are living with the aftershocks of this era. Race and feminism remain mired in prejudice and our culture is almost schizophrenically divided. Politics are increasingly ugly, personal and divisive. Music and popular culture have become virtual cartoons. And Space is a fading frontier as once again we are engulfed in an unpopular war.
No one would say that rebellion and activism started in the Sixties. And yet, no other generation in the last hundred years has transformed culture in quite the same way.
We saw the rise of the peace movement, personal expression in music and arts, environmentalism, civil rights and recreational drugs. We also see the legacies of addiction, AIDS, conservative politics and religious fundamentalism.
Brokaw's interviews famous and "regular" people and through their stories captures the excitement, vibrancy and dissolution of those who were there. He is a skilled and talented interviewer who talked to a wide range of people from Pat Buchanan to Bill Clinton, musicians, journalists and former activists.
The cover shows a patchwork of famous faces. This seems to be appropriate and symbolic. The book intersperses historical narrative, his personal experiences and interviews with baby boomers (famous and not) to create an almost quilt like affect.
The individual pieces are important and finished, but the overall product is much more than the sum of the actual pieces.
Here is the publisher's synopsis:
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?
About the Author
Tom Brokaw is the author of four bestsellers: The Greatest Generation, The Greatest Generation Speaks, An Album of Memories, and A Long Way from Home. From 1976 to 1981 he anchored Today on NBC. He was the sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw from 1983 to 2004.