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

by Tom Brokaw

Hardcover, 2007




Random House, (2007)


Redefines the tumultuous 1960s, a decade that saw the rise of the rebellious children of the greatest generation, to reveal how American social, political, economic, and cultural institutions were transformed by an era of dramatic change.

User reviews

LibraryThing member mrstreme
Tom Brokaw - one of the most respected American journalists of modern times - drew from his journalistic expertise and love of history to create another poignant look into our American past. This time, in Boom! Voices of the Sixties, he focused on the 1960's, which for this book began with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1963 and ended with the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974. In this span of eleven years, America saw great political and social change - the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War protests, the women's right movement and a redefining of the Democratic and Republican parties. As a young journalist during this time, Tom Brokaw saw it all in a perspective that was about as objective as a young man could have from this time.

It's 1968 that really struck Brokaw as a year of greatest significance. It was the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy; the year a Republican took over the White House and the year that political protests reached its most violent of heights. Because 2008 marks the 40th anniversary of this year, Brokaw sought out a "virtual reunion" of sorts - interviewing dozens and dozens of people who were movers and shakers during the Sixties, including household names such as Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinem, Reverend Andrew Young and Kris Kristofferson. Brokaw also included men and women who embraced the new freedoms from this era and became successful in their pursuits: Dr. Judith Ronin who became the first woman president of an Ivy League college, attorney Jeffry House who fled to Canada to avoid the draft, and Dr. Shelby Steele, a prominent college professor and renowned speaker of black-white relations.

Why assemble such a cast? For Brokaw, America in 2008 is approaching a cultural and political apex, much like our country did in 1968. He writes "...many of the debates about the political, cultural and socioeconomic meaning of the Sixties are still as lively and passionate and unresolved as they ever were...The presidential election of 2008 in many respects may be an echo chamber of the election of 1968, with the lessons learned or ignored in Vietnam applied to the war in Iraq."

And in his exploration of the political, cultural and socioeconomic debates and their relevancy to our modern times is where Brokaw really shined in his book. His selection of interviewees, while admittedly the cream of the crop of the Sixties (very few of his subjects, for example, did not have a college degree and most were graduates of America's finest schools), and their bearing on 2008 was well-connected and well-conceived. It's probably not a coincidence that Presidential hopefuls Senators John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all have a place in this book.

I would recommend Boom! Voices of the Sixties to readers who enjoy contemporary history, especially fans of Tom Brokaw's other books. For others, this book may help them learn lessons from our past to help impact changes for our future. 2008 is a crucial year for my country, and I hope all of us embrace this opportunity to add a figurative "boom" to 2008.
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LibraryThing member gavatx
The sixties are like pornography: easy to recognize but hard to describe, and Brokaw does a mediocre job at trying to describe the undescribable And go figure, it's leftward-leaning: two interviews with Karl Rove and Pat Buchanan-- out of 30 to 40 total-- does not a balanced book make. Watch the Woodstock and Altamont documentaries and you'll understand more and have a better time doing it.… (more)
LibraryThing member KinnicChick
I finished reading Boom! I found this to be a fascinating and thought-provoking group of essays on many of the people who had impact because of their leadership in the counterculture or perhaps the politics or even because of their part in the war or maybe their decision to NOT be involved in the war during the sixties/early seventies. Also, of course, there were many people involved in the civil rights movement. While I technically don't fall into the classification of baby boomer (defined as the generation born between 1946 and 1964), I'm close enough to the group (I've always said I'm on the cusp - just as I'm an Aquarius but on the cusp there too - with the Capricorns) to feel in kin with them, far more than I've ever felt a part of the next generation really.

I loved the book. I have highlights and tabs throughout because there were quotes I wanted to remember and things that I didn't know from the past that I didn't want to lose track of. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn a little more about our history, the history of the boomers, and anyone who might want to know what some of those boomers think about that time in history now given what they know about where we've come. And what do they think about where our country is today?

Boom! Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the Sixties and Today
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LibraryThing member LivelyLady
What a wonderful review of the years 1968-2006 with Tom Brokaw. Through his review of history, its politics and its culture, Brokaw takes us down memory lane. Many icons are interviewed for this book in addition to Brokaw's memories of who and what he was during that time. This book is read by Brokaw in his voice which I find so calm and soothing anyway. An excellent audio!!!… (more)
LibraryThing member brianinbuffalo
What I liked most about Brokaw's breezy review of the sixties and early seventies is that it shed light on many of the issues and personalities that dominate today's headlines. As the author traces the actions of people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in earlier eras, he helps readers to better grasp some of the things that have been occurring in more recent times. "Boom!" showcases the deeds and views of a parade of notables ranging from James Taylor to Jane Pauley. With the exception of a few sections that dragged a bit, Brokaw has written a lively book that captures the turbulence of an intriguing era.… (more)
LibraryThing member cljacobson
Just finished listening to this book--I guess it was the abridged verrsion --so I'll need to get the book. Having started college in 1969 --I truly enjoyed hearing the recap--all the events that were happening--that in my own naive way I was unaware of-- largely becasue of my focus on family issues, lack of money and dealing with an alcoholic parent... listening to this --has given me a perspective I didn't have before.… (more)
LibraryThing member mldavis2
A must-read for anyone who lived during the 1960's. Brokaw is a top level journalist who looks at the impact that this time had on American history and the effect on current events and opinions.
LibraryThing member Rincey
This book started out great, but I didn't really like the way it ended. I kind of skimmed through a lot of the parts about Vietnam and the last section of the book because I was getting bored. The parts I liked the most were about the women's & Civil Rights Movement. But honestly, sometimes I wanted to tell those baby boomers to get off their high horse.… (more)
LibraryThing member capewood
I was born in 1951 so I'm a pretty early boomer. But most of my '60's experience is toward the end of the decade, say 1968 and later. I agree with Brokow that the '60's actually ended around 1974. The earlier '60's stuff, especially the civil rights movement kind of passed me by. Brokow interviews a wide range of people who participated in the events and have stayed active in one way or another. They offer their comments on the events themselves and their perspective 40 years later. And perspective is what is needed here. I also like that not all of the people he interviews are famous today or even famous then. One way or another, all of us have our story of the '60's and I think Brokow did a great job of gathering stories.

Does the book tell us ultimately what the '60s meant? Does it explain the continuing impact today? I don't think the book does a good job in this sense but I think we all have to make our own sense of those years and the book helps with that.
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LibraryThing member JenniferRobb
My mom gave me this book. It's apparently a follow up book to a book Brokaw wrote about the generation who lived through the Great Depression and WWII. A book I haven't read.

The format of the book is some of Brokaw's personal recollections and reflections interspersed with excerpts from interviews with various personalities. I most enjoyed reading those interviews from people that I'd heard of. My favorites were probably from the entertainment industry and the one with Jim Lovell. My least favorites were probably those from the political backgrounders, most of whom I'd never heard of.… (more)
LibraryThing member chrisod
Brokaw's series of interviews with various icons of the 60s is a deeply interesting way to gain insight into why the 60s were the 60s. I get a sense that as they look back, many of these folks are disappointed in where we are today.


Original language


Local notes

Inscribed by Brokaw. Non-Circulating


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