Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times

Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times

by Studs Terkel
     
 

Studs Terkel�s marvelous oral histories have hitherto dealt with specifics, as he puts it �the visceral stuff � the job, race, age and death.� While Terkel�s chosen theme here, the incandescence of hope, might at first appear elusive, it is anything but abstract. For Terkel, hope is born of activism, commitment, and the steely determination to resist.

The

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Overview

Studs Terkel�s marvelous oral histories have hitherto dealt with specifics, as he puts it �the visceral stuff � the job, race, age and death.� While Terkel�s chosen theme here, the incandescence of hope, might at first appear elusive, it is anything but abstract. For Terkel, hope is born of activism, commitment, and the steely determination to resist.

The spirit of activism has ebbed and flooded through Terkel�s venerable life. In the Great Depression of the 1930s he recalls a man swinging from a chandelier at the Astor Hotel shouting for �Social Security!� In the 1960s it was African Americans and students who advocated for equal rights and an end to maladventure overseas. And now, in a new century, young and old are joining forces on the streets to say no to war. The spark of activism is igniting the precious idea of a better world once again.

The interviews in Hope Dies Last constitute an alternative history of the �American century,� forming a legacy of the indefatigable spirit that Studs has always embodied, and an inheritance for those who, by taking a stand, are making concrete the dreams of today.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
By allowing political activists, especially those near the ends of their lives, to recount their past struggles for social justice, Terkel hopes to inspire contemporary Americans to take up causes of their own. — Alan Wolfe
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Turning to a subject more elusive than those of his earlier oral histories (work, race, WWII, the American dream and so on), Terkel focuses here on hope as the universal detritus of experience. Terkel worries that Americans are losing hope and consequently losing a collective call to social activism for which hope, he feels, is requisite. Since the book progresses historically, its collective voice grows younger as the book advances toward the present. It is admonitory to note the dampened hopes of older generations. Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets (who piloted the Enola Gay over Hiroshima) dismisses the possibility for peaceful resolutions to post-September 11 conflicts ("We've got to get into a position where we can kill the bastards"); John Kenneth Galbraith, reflecting on the corporate malfeasance of Enron and WorldCom, admits that at his age (94), "there are no untrammeled hopes for the future"; and Adm. Gene LaRoque states simply, "Hope in my view is a wasted emotion." This pessimism, thankfully, wanes as Terkel turns his attention to younger subjects, such as Dr. David Buchanen, who works tirelessly to aid the homeless, and Leroy Orange, whose recent death row pardon has inspired him to want to "talk to at least one youth and turn his life around." Here hope resounds through the pages. Early in the book, Tom Hayden says, "I live now with one goal: to try to learn to be the kind of elder who was missing when I was a kid." With that goal and the hopefulness of the voices that round out this book, hope may well be immortal. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Terkel's new book examines how people survive difficult times and situations and retain hope for the future. In a series of thoughtful and moving interviews, 56 men and women from diverse backgrounds discuss overcoming poverty, racism, sexism, prejudice, substance abuse, and political and economic repression. Well-known individuals such as Tom Hayden, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jerry Brown, and Pete Seeger appear alongside unknown teachers, workers, labor organizers, activists, and students. The common theme is the need for hope and belief that a better future is possible. Particularly moving are the stories of a quadriplegic recovering alcoholic attempting to put her life together and two Guatemalans fleeing political repression to build a new life in America. The book opens with an interesting personal note by Terkel that nicely sets the tone. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565848375
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
11/03/2003
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.31(d)

What People are saying about this

Oliver Sacks
There is no one in the world who can listen like Studs Terkel. … He has heard, he reflects back to us, our deepest feelings.
John Kenneth Galbraith
Studs Terkel is more than a writer, he is a national resource.

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