Has anyone read Tom Brokaw's new book Boom? A friend gave it to me for Christmas and I finished it a couple of weeks ago. It's not long and a pretty easy read. I previously had read Brokaw's Greatest Generation and liked it, so I was willing to give this one a shot. The book centers around the year 1968, although it also moves backwards and forwards in time and encompasses events that, strictly speaking, did not occur in that calendar year. The book focuses on interviews with a number of people prominently involved in the happenings of the day, and follows up with the usual "where are they now" stories. Some are quite moving; some are insipid.
There is no doubt that 1968 was a year that changed the landscape of the American experience: the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy a very short two months later, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the Women's Liberation movement in full throat, the Tet Offensive and the subsequent escalation of the Viet Nam War. Many of the interviewees ponder what the world would be like if, in particular, King and Kennedy had lived: how would they have changed the course of the Viet Nam War, the lives of African-Americans in the United States, the economic disparities between rich and poor, male and female, black, brown and white, the election of Richard Nixon and the Watergate debacle? Indeed, what a year that was.
But the question I am really interested in today is whether it's time for the Boomers to step aside and hand over the reins of power to the next generation. Now, whether that means Gen X or Gen Y or the Tweeners, or Gen Millennium, I'm not sure. But one of the central tenets of Brokaw's book is that we cannot get past the political devisiveness that currently envelopes the American political scene until the Boomers are toast. Why? Brokaw's thesis is that, for better or worse, the Boomers continue to fight the Viet Nam War over and over again, and that the reverberations of that conflict cast their shadow over everything that happens in American political life today.
What do you think of that thesis? True or false? Why?
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Boomer now in my 50th year. I know many of the BlondeSense readership likewise are Boomers. So, I am interested to know whether we are ready to let go and let the youngsters take their turn at gripping the horse's mane and seeing how far they can ride.