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Reviewed by Fred Phillips for Readers' Favorite
War Babies by Richard Pells covers well-trodden territory, but does so with a difference. America and the world went through a transformative period in the 1960s and 1970s. The history of this time has been written about extensively, but most of it has been told as if the events and changes were the product of the Baby Boomer generation. However, Pells rightly points out that many of the people causing the changes were actually members of the War Baby generation (born between 1939 and 1945). Though this generation covers a much shorter span of time, war babies were instrumental in changing culture, music, movies, and politics. Using several key figures from that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Marin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Faye Dunaway, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Dick Cheney, War Babies details their lives and careers, and the way they changed America forever.
War Babies is effective in conveying the early years of each person and showing how they rose to their prominent place in American lore. It covers history that most of us know, but provides key insights and information that gives us a fresher, and perhaps better, view of the Sixties and Seventies. Richard Pells is not only concerned with giving us a new perspective on this important era in American history, he is also proudly defending his generation. His main theme is that the War Baby generation created the cultural and political framework in which we live today. This is a long overdue book on a generation that seems to have slipped between the cracks, and it is both interesting and enlightening to a Baby Boomer like myself.