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A seventeen-year-old who enlisted in the army in 1941 writes to describe the Bataan Death March. Other members of the greatest generation describe their war in such historic episodes as Guadalcanal, the D-Day invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, and Midway as well as their life on the home front. In this beautiful American family album of stories, reflections, memorabilia, and photographs, history comes alive and is preserved, in peoples own words and through photographs and time lines that commemorate important dates and events. Starting with the Depression and Pearl Harbor, on through the war in Europe and the Pacific, this unusual book preserves a peoples rich historical heritage and the legacy of the heroism of a nation. Tom Brokaw has turned his popular book The Greatest Generation into a trilogy. After that first success came The Greatest Generation Speaks. Now there's An Album of Memories, a collection of letters and photos sent to Brokaw by readers who grew up during the Depression and came of age during World War II.
An Album of Memories simply overflows with nostalgia. "We were privileged to grow up in a time when honor, truth, loyalty, duty, and patriotism were real and meant something," writes Robert Cromer. Another correspondent, Douglas G. Fish, describes his own wartime experience--and that of many others--with an elegant simplicity: "I went in the service as a boy and came out a man." There are poignant letters from the dead. One reader submitted this one, sent home in 1942: "Dear Mom, I got your package and Dot's letter today. Boy, the cookies were swell, all the boys send their thanks. Not a one of them was crushed either." Almost exactly a year later, the writer was killed on a bombing run. Another man shares "the last letter my father wrote, three days before he died." It reads: "Tomorrow is D-Day at Iwo Jima--right on Japan's front doorstep--we will go in and lay nets sometime during the assault.... I have faith in God to help us through to victory but am prepared to die for America and face our Lord if He so wills it." The son who sent this letter to Brokaw wasn't even born until after his father had been killed: "I read [this letter] every year on Memorial Day, cry a lot, and think of what a hero he was," he writes.
It's hard not to agree with that assessment, and it applies to so many of those who fought bravely in Europe or the Pacific, as well as those who maintained the home front. All of them have their say in this attractive volume. --John J. Miller