Labor Day weekend kicked off with a strong start at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Now in its 15th year, the festival featured a discussion with Tom Brokaw. The veteran journalist, a longtime host of the NBC Nightly News, was also there to sign copies of his latest book, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope. He spoke at length in a packed convention hall about his difficulties from multiple myeloma or blood cancer, a condition he was diagnosed with back in 2013.
The “excruciating” ordeal left him flat on his back at the worst periods, phases that he endured with the loving support and patience of his wife, Meredith. It was also a time filled with some humor in the form of his grandchildren, in trying to get them to understand to keep the “decibels” or noise down on their visits. “They call me ‘Tom’ because they’ve seen me on television,” Brokaw remarked fondly, eliciting a wave of laughter from the audience.
At the age of seventy-five, Brokaw is optimistic about his treatment regiment. He credits his upbringing as being instrumental in his will to persevere through these trials. His parents and others were part of a generational cohort with the mindset that you “took what came to you and dealt with it.” He’s already made similar observations about that group in his 1997 bestseller The Greatest Generation.
When asked why he left NBC Nightly News, Brokaw admitted that the job came with “a short leash,” emphasizing it’s probable at times that he was “home no more than two days in a row in 1989.” He says that he took his reporting seriously, bringing to light any mistakes he uncovered at the soonest broadcast possible. He’s immensely proud that he “got it mostly right” in his tenure.
However, he felt ready to move onto a new chapter of his life in the spheres of family, outdoor hobbies, and career. He dedicated his time to writing books, pursuing documentary projects, and advocating tirelessly for both veterans and individuals in active service. One can expect Brokaw to push forward in the same vein of work and to continue promoting his new memoir in the weeks ahead, as he looks forward to a busy fall season.
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