cover image Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today

Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the ’60s and Today

Tom Brokaw, . . Random, $27.95 (662pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6457-1

There’s less heroism in Brokaw’s profiles of the baby boom cohort than there was in his salute to The Greatest Generation, but there’s still plenty of drama. Almost everyone the author interviews (famous boomers like Arlo Guthrie, Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove along with many unsung contemporaries) describes a personal journey through the upheavals of the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, women’s liberation, the counterculture, the rise of the New Left or the birth of the New Right. Callow students became radicalized, restless housewives forged careers, musicians spiraled into addiction, disgusted erstwhile liberals trekked rightward, everyone—except Dick Cheney, Brokaw mentions—questioned authority. Unlike Brokaw’s celebratory and elegiac previous book, this one is steeped in retrospective ambivalence; conservatives look back on the era with disdain, and even unreconstructed lefties feel misgivings about its excesses. As an NBC correspondent, Brokaw was a keen (if careful nonparticipant) observer of the ’60s and contributes his own neutral but engaging gloss on developments, along with personal recollections of everyone from Bobby Kennedy to Hunter S. Thompson. He may not always know what to make of it all, but Brokaw’s profiles do convey the decade’s diverse experiences, its roiling energies and its centrality in the making of modern America. Photos. (Nov. 6)