The Time of Our Lives by Tom Brokaw

75 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.

I’ve read several book lately about our current economic crisis, and I probably enjoyed Tom Brokaw’s book more than any of the others. I think Thomas Friedman’s was the most informative, and Tom Brokaw actually refers to it on a number of occasions. I just enjoyed this book more because it evokes a greater sense of nostalgia for the kind of country we all think we’ve grown up in.

I also like Brokaw’s book because he points out that we only feel like we have come so far down because we’ve been on an economic roller coaster that took us farther up than we’d ever been just before it brought us back down. We can’t make ends meet because we are trying to live in ways no one has lived before.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As I struggle to make my mortgage payments, I think about how unusual it is, when considering the history of civilization as a whole, that a single woman would live alone in a three bedroom house to start with. Even in my own family, in the past, multiple generations lived in one house. Now, I live alone in a house that, while very modest by today’s standards, might still be bigger and nicer than some of the places my great-greats had whole sprawling families crammed into. It’s harder to live like this today than it was ten years ago. Still, it’s more possible for me to live like this today than it would have been at any point in history up to the past fifty years or so.

This is the kind of thing Brokaw reminds us of. A little perspective can be a very good thing.

His advice about how to go forward from here is not so terribly different from anyone else’s advice. I just finished this book feeling more optimistic than I have at the end of other books. I think because I spent so many years listening to Tom Brokaw tell me what was going on in the world, I feel a little more comforted listening to his voice tell me we’re still who we’ve always been.

We might have a lot of work to do yet to get back on track, and we might need some major attitude adjustments yet, but we haven’t lost all hope yet. This is good to imagine.

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