The Greatest Generation
is a term for those Americans
who fought in World War II
, as well as those who kept the home front
intact during it. Some of those who survived the war then went on to build and rebuild United States industries in the years following the war. It follows the Lost Generation
of the 1920s and precedes the Silent Generation
of the 1950s.
Howe and Strauss's terminology
In the theory of Howe and Strauss
in their book Generations
, the term means those born in the United States
from about 1901 through 1924, and who form the second half of that theory's "G.I. Generation".
Tom Brokaw's book
Broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw
wrote in his 1998 book The Greatest Generation
, "this is the greatest generation any society has produced." He argued that the soldiers fought not for the fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. The book was a great popular success. Some critics and historians found the phenomenon overblown, or simplistic. Others felt an implied criticism of the Baby Boomer
generation, and defended that generation's social values against those of the Greatest Generation.
Seven consecutive U.S. presidents were from this generation: George H. W. Bush
, Ronald Reagan
, Jimmy Carter
, Gerald Ford
, Richard Nixon
, Lyndon Johnson
, and John F. Kennedy
. President Jimmy Carter
was a midshipman
in the United States Naval Academy
during the war.