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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw presents a third volume of "personal histories" of what he has rightly dubbed "the greatest generation" -- World War II veterans -- and those of their surviving family members. The experiences and memories shared by these American heroes are sure to move, inspire, and educate our generation as well as those to come.
Brokaw has divided the book into five sections, each with its own informative essay and timeline of relevant events. The first, "From the Depression to Pearl Harbor," includes many reminiscences of the events of December 7, 1941, including those of Beverly Moore, who remembers that her five-year-old brother asked their mother, "Who won the war?" when he woke up on the following morning.
The second, "The War in Europe," includes a letter from Charlene Nicholls Gamble, whose Uncle Art and father, Charlie, both enlisted in the army after Pearl Harbor. Ms. Gamble shares with Brokaw a series of letters from her father as he competed with his brother to see who would be the better soldier. As Art becomes a bomber pilot in England, he loses track of his brother's whereabouts. But it is Art who loses his life in combat, and Charlie writes his mother:
Even if he is dead, we know he died for a good cause. You might think that it is a heck of a way to feel, but it's not -- it's something to be proud of. It's not like the Germans dying for Hitler, it's dying so that every person in the U.S. might continue to live the life that they have been. That's something to boast about.The third section, "The War in the Pacific," includes a letter written by communications officer John Lingenfelter to his infant daughter, Barbara Anne, who was born while John was overseas:
If everything goes alright, I expect to see you in the early part of next March, and I know it will be one of the happiest days of my life...God couldn't have given you a more wonderful mother -- I know. You see I, too, love her very much, and I know that you and she and I will always be rich in our love for each other.Section Four, "The Homefront," includes a letter from Dolores Leathers, one of those left behind to support her soldier husband and take care of their family:
He had left a 23-year-old girl really and came home to a 25-year-old woman who had to make decisions on her own for the first time in her life, keep things going while he was away and raise five children, take care of an invalid mother, and, on the small allotment from the army and my mother's S.S.I. check, feed and clothe seven people and deal with rationing, shortages and the worry of not knowing what was happening.The final section, "Reflections," includes Brokaw's own remembrances of his South Dakota childhood and how it was affected by the events surrounding the end of the war and the country's need to move forward:
...There was no time for grief and mourning.... This is the time in America that I and other members of my generation experienced and remember best, the time when the war was over and people wanted to get on with their lives, and did not talk about the war much, or at all.It's obvious Brokaw's efforts to present these memories have been a great service to the country and those who toiled so valiantly to guide it through the turbulence of the Great Depression and World War II. (Nicholas Sinisi)
Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes & Noble.com History editor.