Tom Brokaw left the “NBC Nightly News” anchor desk seven years ago, but he’s still digging up hard truths about our world. In his latest book, “The Time of Our Lives,” Brokaw looks at some of the problems facing the nation today — waning education standards, vitriolic politics and lagging technological innovation — and encourages Americans to be part of the solution. “Immodestly, I thought my experiences as a husband, father, grandfather, journalist and citizen may provide some lessons as we go forward,” he said in an email exchange ahead of his Thursday reading at Politics and Prose.
Was there one particular moment or event that inspired this book?
I interviewed President Obama in Dresden [in 2009] as he was en route to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day, and as I left Dresden, I thought of all the momentous events of my lifetime and the fresh challenges of a new century.
Are today’s problems more troubling than those of the past?
The big change for America is the nature and magnitude of the competition from China and other emerging nations, such as India, Brazil and Russia. We’ve met larger challenges and survived in the past: the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam and the ’60s.
In what ways are the problems faced by Americans today different than the ones we faced in the past?
This generation will be living on a smaller planet with many more people competing for economic and natural resources. Their counterparts in much of the world are now much better educated and have access to the same tools of information technology.
Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of our country?
I am the eternal optimist. How could I not be with the good fortune I’ve enjoyed?