This vastly entertaining and edifying history book is by David Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. We are treated to a multi-colored glimpse of the Baby Boom generation who grew up during the 40s and 50s when people were quite pleased with the salutary results of "government activism on behalf of all Americans."
After World War II, the G.I. Bill of Rights gave soldiers the wherewithal to go to college, purchase a house, and enjoy the perks of being part of the upwardly mobile middle class. Goldfield does a commendable job with his treatment of the three postwar presidents who orchestrated these cultural developments: Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson. The latter had the most success with antipoverty programs, the advancement of civil rights, and healthcare but was completely undone by his handling of the toxic Vietnam War.
Kudos are also due to the author for his spiffy treatments of several key cultural icons during these prosperous times: Mary Tyler Moore's popular TV show about a working woman and the challenges she faces; Dr. Benjamin Spock's child care book which its advocacy of laid-back parenting and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique which changed the consciousness of many women and men.
Goldfield describes the main message he wants to convey with The Gifted Generation:
"The gifted generation came to adulthood confidently, in a confident generation. They possessed the freedom to learn, to experiment, even to fail. Ultimately, they each discovered a life that provided a livelihood and fulfilled a passion. Their stories were told many times over across the country. Good government aided that process of discovery. Together, they helped to build the nation."