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Books and Speaking Engagements

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News - “Indispensable!  The list has become one of the highlights of the year in our newsroom. It’s excellent -- at teaching us history -- and making us feel really old....The Mindset List has taught us all -- journalists, pollsters, historians -- that we've been tracking the wrong trends and covering the wrong things!"

The Millennial Promise: 40 Tips From The Mindset List (Paperback)

by Tom McBride (Author), Ron Nief (Author), Charles Westerberg (Author)

The Millenial Promise coverIn The Millennial Promise the authors of the famed Mindset List offer 40 practical tips for better Millennial education. They give educators, counselors, and administrators a solid understanding of Millennial attitudes--from politics to economics to gender--and show how specific Millennial emotions and tech savvy are the real keys to Millennial learning. Included here are creative ideas for promoting intellectual joy--and even using such Millennials habits as tweets and texting to help them acquire analytical skills that will last a lifetime. The Millennial Promise shows educators how to give the new generation academic gifts that will keep on giving. 

The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think is Normal

John Wiley and Sons, 2011

Book Cover for The Mindset Lists of American HistoryThe Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think is Normal is an outgrowth of the annual Beloit College Mindset List. The Lists, distributed each August since 1998, reflect the world view of 18 year-old entering college students each fall.

Ron Nief and Tom McBride have created a book that looks at ten generations, from the time of their grandparents, born about 1880, to a speculative look at the world that awaits a generation born in 2008.

“One reason we began the List was to remind faculty members and the general public that entering college students have a particular and limited range of experiences,” notes McBride. “This was no less true of the high school classes of 1918 or 1944, and it’s the sort of deliciously ironic thing that our book will showcase. It’s a neat new way to trace American social history. What was it like, for example, to be the first generation to enjoy the luxury of zippers on clothes?”

“A rewarding aspect of the annual Mindset List is the way in which it has prompted conversation, in the classroom, at conferences and in the media,” Nief adds. “We hope the book will do the same thing, particularly among generations in the same family. We anticipate multiple generations of families gathering once again at the breakfast or dinner table to talk about what people did before remote controls, email, and touchtone phones. We may revolutionize mealtime and bring back Tang and Ovaltine.”

The Mindset List of the Obscure: 74 Famously Forgotten Icons from A to Z

Sourcebooks, 2014

Book CoverRemember Beulah the Buzzer, or the police drama that had a theme song that everybody knew as “Dum-De-Dum-Dum”? How about “Who’s on First” or the cluttered closet of Fibber McGee? Ron Nief and Tom McBride, co-authors of the annual Beloit College Mindset List, have captured these and scores of other mid-20th century iconic cultural experiences in their new book The Mindset List of the Obscure: 74 Famously Forgotten Icons from A to Z published by Sourcebooks.

The informative, entertaining tour of American culture over the last century consists of 74 short essays. It is an affectionate look back at what was once famous, an honor roll of what every American once knew but has now largely forgotten -- or never knew in the first place. It offers insights into the once-famous people, shows, film genres, phrases, politics, and technology, extending from the A&P and Arthur Murray to “Your Hit Parade,” Watergate and the Zapruder film.

The book is an outgrowth of the author’s first book, The Mindset Lists of American History, that examined the past century through the eyes of the evolving 18 year old. Nief notes that “our new book takes some lost but golden oldies that shaped society in our youth and rescues them from oblivion. At a deeper level, it’s a droll meditation on oblivion itself. It is pure nostalgia.”

According to McBride, “At a time when college students have no idea who Charles Lindbergh was, this book, informatively and whimsically, examines the days when The Lone Ranger and Tired Blood, for instance, were equally celebrated, as heroes or maladies.

“A civilized country does not just forget the departed. We put up gravestones or plaques and have funerals and museums. The Lone Ranger may have Tired Blood—our way of saying that both the formerly famed masked man and the once-famous geriatric affliction are now largely forgotten—but civilization demands that we try to remember them. Therefore this must be a civilized book.”

More About the Mindset List and Books

The Mindset Lists of American History and Mindset List techniques are now being used in courses at the secondary and post-secondary level. An educational guide has been developed and is available at Many teachers have also made use of the daily questions that appear on the Mindset List Facebook page.

See the Beloit College Mindset List webcast (viewable in the Microsoft Silverlight player)

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Books are available online and wherever books are sold. For an autographed copy, please call the Turtle Creek Beloit College Bookstore at 608-363-2375.

Critical Comments

If you're up for a trip down memory lane, or want to learn more about your parent's generation, this book is for you... READ IT IF: You're feeling nostalgic. Your parents like mentioning things and people from the good ole days. You're curious about past American cultural icons and phrases. ” - Second Bookshelf on the Right

Tom McBride and Ron Nief have never failed to open my mind while making me smile. The Mindset List has been an annual treasure. The Mindset List of the Obscure opens the way to pleasurable discovery of Americans lost but not to be forgotten.” - Jim Fleming, former host of PRI's To the Best of Our Knowledge and host and producer of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter A Day

Exquisitely mindboggling entertainment.” - Jim McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street

“Wonderfully entertaining, irreverent and insightful...McBride and Nief should be hailed as America’s cultural timekeepers.” - Jim Simon, Seattle Times

"No one keeps closer tabs on our evolving sense of history and popular culture than Tom McBride and Ron Nief. The Mindset Lists of American History will startle you with what the members of each new freshman class have never (or always) known. For the Class of 1910, children had always worked seven day weeks in factories. A century later, students have never heard of Cassius Clay. A wall through Berlin? Apartheid in South Africa? Who knew?" - James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street

Speaking Engagements

Each year, the authors speak around the country to education, library, professional, civic, and business groups and are available for workshops, conferences, and book signings.

Some recent presentations include:

  • Education - Utah State University; Murray State (Ky.) University; Madison (Wis.) Area Technical College; Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society; The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI); Highland (Ill.) Community College; Framingham (Mass.) State University; University of North Texas; Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy; Alpha Gamma Rho;
  • Library and Museum Groups - The American Library Association; Missouri Library Association; The New England Library Network; The Chicago History Museum
  • Admissions - The ACT National Compass Conference; Association for College Admissions Counseling conferences in Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New England; CFES: College For Every Student.
  • Professional and Civic Groups - NASA; NCAA; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; NCHELP National Debt Management Conference; Rotary International North American Youth Exchange Network; The National Association of State Retirement Administrators