Professor Lenny Steinhorn came to my attention through a firey article he wrote for Slate.com. I then became aware of his upcoming book, connected with him by email, and eventually got to know him better through several telephone conferences. We share an unyielding commitment to correcting inaccurate and destructive media images of Boomers. Lenny sent me a galley copy of his upcoming book, and I was honored to write the following review:
The Greater Generation is an articulate defense of the Baby Boom generation, and it is a trenchant offense aimed at the generation's many critics. It's about Boomers, and it's for Boomers. This provocative journey into a generation's soul is tightly-crafted pattern recognition, consensus validation, memory restoration, and achievement exaltation. It is defiantly uplifting while cautionary, interleaving historical insights with perceptive, sometimes stinging commentary. Reading this book will give every Boomer a clearer, more generous, and better substantiated generational self-image.
For too many years, Boomers have been attacked by countless naysayers and domineering factions committed to perpetuating demeaning generational myths. Boomers have been ridiculed for their lack of patriotism, for undermining traditional American values, for inculcating cultural and moral degradation. Ironically, this nation's wealthiest and most economically influential generation has been accused of self-absorption and solipsism, a narcissistic cohort bereft of concern for consequences and noted for self-indulgence over self-sacrifice. In contrast to their parent's idealized standing as the "greatest generation," Boomers have been gamely diminished as the "worst generation." And this book shouts enough.
Author Leonard Steinhorn deftly debunks divisive myths. With clear and resonate analysis, buttressed by substantial research evidence, he unravels the thread-bare fabrication of the generation's alleged misdeeds. Challenging conservative hegemony and countless vituperative critics, this communications professor at American University filets the hypocrisies and fear-mongering that dominated post-World War II America. While paying due respect to the courage and sacrifices of the GI Generation, he also holds Boomers' parents accountable once again for their treatment of minorities, women, and the environment, for xenophobia and institutionalized paranoia. He reminds readers of the precipitating dissonance between America's founding ideals and the everyday facts of life that edged young Boomers toward democratic mobilization and cultural revolution.
The author posits how, contrary to popular perceptions, Boomers triumphantly re-established the nation's founding values in contemporary value consensus: privacy, choice, pluralism, tolerance, self-expression, environmental awareness, and egalitarian institutions. Simply, America is a better country today because of the transformational nature of this idealistic and committed generation. Boomers have not been charlatans, but change agents. Steinhorn also reminds younger readers that egalitarian workplace and housing practices taken for granted today were earned first in the battlefield of thought and then the intractable institutions of media and government.
Boomer readers will discover their formative zeitgeist springing from every chapter -- a narrative validation of their unique culture, arts, defining moments, and social movements. All readers will gain insights about how and why Boomers' past struggles for social justice are being demeaned today, long after these conflicts have corrected so many wrongs -- from racial segregation to sexual stereotyping. Further, readers will understand why "cultural Luddites" continue to marginalize others in their vain attempts to roll society back to a time when everyone knew their place, and social mobility was almost impossible.
Finally, Professor Steinhorn stresses that Boomers are not yet finished in the battle for a better America. The agenda of the generation remains incomplete, with pressing needs today for environmental activism, increasing diversity, women's rights, and civic engagement. Reflecting the song title of one of this generation's favorite bards, Steinhorn's book insists that Boomers Carry On.