Monday, November 26, 2007
Boom! Voices of the Sixties
Where were you in the Sixties? Tom Brokaw uses his latest book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today, to look back at that decade, the people who lived through it, and the results of those years. Knowing there are still unresolved debates about the politics, cultural and socioeconomic meaning of the Sixties, Brokaw examined his own life, and interviewed numerous others about their experiences.
He picks Nov. 22, 1963, the day of John Kennedy's assassination as the beginning of what we call the Sixties, and says it ended with Nixon's resignation in 1974. The people and events of the years between "challenged and changed almost everything that had gone before."
The Sixties were civil rights, women's rights, hippies, music, and, hanging over everything, Vietnam. Brokaw's book is a personal book in which he relates his own life and experiences during those years, and the changes he observed. He also interviewed people affected by those years, Julian Bond, Hillary Clinton, General Colin Powell, James Taylor and Garry Trudeau, among dozens of others, including students who opposed the war in Vietnam, and soldiers who went to war.
I'm a little young to remember the Sixties, but the decade still impacts our lives. Today, there's a woman, an African-American, and a Hispanic running for President. Those who remember Vietnam, watch Iraq, and comment on the similarities. Brokaw's book brings to life the events and people of the Sixties, and lays the trail to show how we arrived where we are today, with our politics and our culture. He's examined the country in a fascinating book, but he admits we still can't render a verdict as to the meaning of the changes, for good or ill. Brokaw's book is strong enough, with its variety of viewpoints, to be a text for studying that pivotal decade in our history.
In his book, The Greatest Generation, Brokaw dealt with people who shared an experience that brought people together. In Boom!, he's dealing with years that tore the country apart. The Sixties exploded onto the United States, and the repercussions of those years are still being felt. The country has never been the same.
Boom! Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today by Tom Brokaw. Random House, ©2007. ISBN 978-1400064571 (hardcover), 662p.