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Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his latest oral history, an appraisal of how the last 10 years have changed us, Pulitzer Prize-winner Terkel ( Working , etc.) uses the phrase ``great divide'' to symbolize the breaches which he claims are widening between young and old, rich and poor, among racial groups and within religious communities. He notes, too, a gap in our historical memory of even the immediate past, especially among the young, who tend to confuse celebrity with leadership. Eloquent, firsthand recitations from farmers who are losing their land, their solidarity, and their children to the city or by suicide, contrast starkly with that of an international Wall Street futures dealer, listed in the Forbes 400 register of richest Americans. Observations from a truck driver, a sports columnist, a laid-off steel worker, a striking flight attendant, a Ku Klux Klan member, a Gray Panthers activist and a couple serving time for anti-nuclear demonstrations comprise, along wth a host of others, this portrait of a nation's people riven by conflicting values. Major ad/promo; author tour. (October)
Library Journal
In the latest of Terkel's fine oral histories, ordinary people reflect on the issues of the 1980sReaganism, greed, farming, race relations, education, and religion. The law-and-order fundamentalist who participated in the sanctuary movement and the police chief's wife who was arrested during an anti-war demonstration help form this collage. The ``divide'' exists when inner beliefs conflict with public policy; when family members harbor differing views on heartfelt issues; when the ideas of the 1960s are compared with those of the 1980s. How did we get from there to here? Where are we heading? There are no answers here, just very timely and provocative commentary in Terkel's inimitable style. Sondra Brunhumer, Western Michigan Univ. Libs., Kalamazoo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517050811
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/1990
  • Pages: 439

Meet the Author

Studs Terkel
One of the greatest oral historians of the 20th century, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, actor, and broadcaster Studs Terkel was a national treasure and a beloved institution in his native Chicago. His award-winning books, based on conversations with Americans from all walks of life, form a unique chronicle of a nation in the throes of socio-political change.

Biography

As a young boy in the early 1920s, Louis "Studs" Terkel moved with his family from New York to Chicago, the sprawling, high-energy city he would call home for the rest of his life. His parents managed hotels catering to a varied and colorful clientele. Listening to the conversations of the tenants, young Terkel developed an early interest in people and their stories and a wide-ranging intellectual curiosity that would lead him in many directions.

He received his law degree from the University of Chicago, but never became a practicing attorney, Instead, he worked briefly in Washington, D.C., then returned to Chicago to take a job in FDR's Works Progress Administration acting and writing plays. In 1939, he married Ida Goldberg. The marriage endured for 60 years, until Ida's death in 1999. He joined the Army during WWII but was discharged because of perforated eardrums. Around this time, he embarked on a long, varied broadcasting career as a sportscaster, news commentator, and disc jockey. He ventured into TV in the 1950s with a relaxed, breezy variety show that helped define the Chicago School of Television, but returned to radio in 1952 with the a daily program of music and interviews that continued for the next 45 years. Among a constellation of memorable guests were Buster Keaton, Billie Holiday, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Tennessee Williams, Gloria Steinem, and Bob Dylan.

Although his first book Giants of Jazz was published in 1957, Terkel's writing career began in earnest a decade later with Division Street, a book of transcribed interviews with Chicagoans from every walk of life. Hailed by The New Yorker as "totally absorbing," this groundbreaking study paved the way for bestselling oral histories of the Great Depression (Hard Times), the working class (Working), WWII (the Pulitzer Prize winner The Good War), and growing old in America (Coming of Age). He also penned several memoirs, including Talking to Myself (1977), My American Century (1997), and Touch and Go (2007).

Active and engaged to the end, Terkel died in October of 2008 at the age of 96. In its obituary, the Chicago Tribune reprinted this epigrammatic quote from the iconic writer: "My epitaph? My epitaph will be, 'Curiosity did not kill this cat."

Good To Know

Terkel's famous nickname derives from the fictional character Studs Lonigan from James T. Farrell's 1930s coming-of-age trilogy.

Famously outspoken, Terkel was blacklisted from television during the McCarthy era for his "incendiary" political views. Fortunately, he found a wider audience when he was hired by Chicago's fine arts radio station WFMT, where his program was a daily staple for 45 years.

Instantly recognizable by his attire, Terkel always wore a red-checked shirt, grey trousers, and a blue blazer.

He appeared in Eight Men Out, John Sayles's 1988 film about the Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Louis "Studs" Terkel
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 16, 1912
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      October 31, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Chicago, IL

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