Never Give Up: A Prairie Family's Story
In this moving story, the New York Times bestselling author of The Greatest Generation chronicles the values and lessons he absorbed from his parents and other people who worked hard to build lives on the prairie during the first half of the twentieth century.
“A spare, elegant masterpiece.”—Ken Burns
Tom’s father, Red, left school in the second grade to work in the family hotel—the Brokaw House, established in Bristol, South Dakota, by R. P. Brokaw in 1883. Eventually, through work on construction jobs, Red developed an exceptional talent for machines. Tom’s mother, Jean, was the daughter of a farmer who lost everything during the Great Depression. They met after a high school play, when Jean played the lead and Red fell in love with her from the audience. Although they didn’t have much money early in their marriage, especially once they had three boys at home, Red’s philosophy of “Never give up” served them well. His big break came after World War II, when he went to work for the Army Corps of Engineers building great dams across the Missouri River, magnificent structures like the Fort Randall and the Gavins Point dams. Late in life, Red surprised his family by recording his memories of the hard times of his early life, reflections that inspired this book.
Tom Brokaw is known as one of the most successful people in broadcast journalism. Throughout his legendary career, Brokaw has always asked what we can learn from world events and from our history. Within Never Give Up is one answer, a portrait of the resilience and respect for others at the heart of one American family’s story.
Praise for Never Give Up: A Prairie Family's Story
“Sometimes, when the evening is winding down, when the dishes are done and the little ones asleep, memory guides the conversation, gently pushing away the cares of the moment. As a portal to past times, that memory retrieves the missing among us and brings them and their values and examples to the fore. Brokaw’s spare, elegant masterpiece is just this kind of time machine, resurrecting one family’s prairie experience and, like all good alchemy, transforming it into pure gold usable for anyone who knows they always have and always will stand on the shoulders of giants.”—Ken Burns
“The prairie values of his parents that Tom Brokaw celebrates in this heartwarming memoir are the girders of the American Dream. In our fractured times, this inspiring book reminds us how we can rise to meet our current challenges by honoring the fortitude of the generations before us.”—Walter Isaacson, author of The Code Breaker and Leonardo da Vinci
“Tom Brokaw tells the story of his parents’ beginnings and the foundation they built for his own big American life. In his easy, conversational tone, he weaves a narrative full of rugged individualists who worked hard without complaint, made countless sacrifices for their families, and united in common cause for the country they loved. Brokaw honors their lifelong commitment to the greater good and rightfully nudges us to embrace this tradition as our own.”—Connie Schultz
“The venerable news anchor narrows the Greatest Generation to the folks back home. . . . With his customary evenhanded tone . . . Brokaw pays homage to the sacrifices of his parents’ generation—and finds their successors wanting by comparison.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this affable memoir, former NBC Nightly News anchor Brokaw draws a line from his parents’ perseverance through world wars and the Great Depression through to his own values. . . . Brokaw recounts Red and Jean’s courtship and reflects on the work ethic he gleaned from them, masterfully bringing them to life through fond recollections. . . . Brokaw constructs this memorable family history with all the concision and color of a good journalistic profile. It’s hard not to be moved.”—Publishers Weekly
“With an economy of words but a wealth of emotion, Brokaw evokes his parents’ hardscrabble childhoods, their solid and storied marriage, and their struggles to create a secure home for a growing family while confronting the challenges of the Great Depression and WWII. . . . Brokaw’s candid and heartfelt memoir offers a timely reflection infused with his trademark sincerity and unabashed appreciation for the bedrock inspirational values that always deserve attention.”—Booklist