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P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening

P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening

by Studs Terkel

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Millions of Studs Terkel fans have come to know the prizewinning oral historian through his landmark books—“The Good War”, Hard Times, Working, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?, and many others. Few people realize, however, that much of Studs’s best work was not collected into these thematic volumes and has, in fact,


Millions of Studs Terkel fans have come to know the prizewinning oral historian through his landmark books—“The Good War”, Hard Times, Working, Will the Circle Be Unbroken?, and many others. Few people realize, however, that much of Studs’s best work was not collected into these thematic volumes and has, in fact, never been published. P.S. brings together these significant and deeply enjoyable writings for the first time.

The pieces in P.S. reflect Studs’s wide-ranging interests and travels, as well as his abiding connection to his hometown, Chicago. Here we have a fascinating conversation with James Baldwin, possibly Studs’s finest interview with an author; pieces on the colorful history and culture of Chicago; vivid portraits of Studs’s heroes and cohorts (including an insightful and still timely interview with songwriter Yip Harburg, known for his “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”); and the transcript of Studs’s famous broadcast on the Depression, the very moving essence of what was to become Hard Times.

A fitting postscript to a lifetime of listening, P.S. is a truly Terkelesque display of Studs’s extraordinary range of talent and the amazing people he found to talk to.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cleaning out the office after years of disuse was worthwhile for beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian Terkel (1912-2008), and even more so for the loyal readers who recently lost him. This collection of previously unpublished essays and interviews shouldn't disappoint. Much of the author's best stories come from his beloved hometown of Chicago, and "Dreamland" is a transporting example, about a 12-year-old Terkel and his big brother's habit of taking the wrong women home from the Dreamland ballroom. His 1961 interview with black author James Baldwin, covering music and politics, is both warm and bitingly honest: says Baldwin, "to be a Negro in this country is really just...never to be looked at." Another highlight, "A Gathering of Survivors," is a discussion of the Great Depression that's especially timely. In just a few pages, Terkel can effortlessly invoke laughter, tears and thoughtful wonder. Some pieces are less successful (an interview with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" fame), but fans will be happy to sort them from the gems.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Terkel's appropriately titled book is not like his previous in-depth studies of the Great Depression (Hard Times), World War II (The Good War), and the phenomenon of work in American life (Working)-it's a wide-ranging collection of pieces, some previously unpublished, all previously uncollected. Short, punchy essays are bookended with journalistic entries, and there are a couple of transcribed broadcasts. The book makes much of its impact, though, in its longer interviews. A conversation with James Baldwin is by itself worth the cover price. Additional highlights include the transcript of the 1961 Prix-Italia Award-winning Born To Live and an interview with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Terkel returns to the theme of Chicago throughout, but there is not an overall unifying idea to the book; it is truly a collection of postscripts. Some are more deeply meaningful than others, but most readers should be able to find something here. Academic libraries would do well to bolster their Terkel holdings with this offering, and larger public libraries should also consider.
—Audrey Snowden

Kirkus Reviews
A personal anthology of unpublished pieces by the nonagenarian master of oral history. Following closely on the memoir Touch and Go (2007), this small selection illustrates some of the episodes in that nicely anecdotal book and might best be read with it alongside. At the start, Terkel revisits his early beginnings as an actor of many voices, most of them gangsterish-Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney-and most leading up to a climax along the lines of, "Fuggiva me, Mudder of Ooaawwow!" Readers interested in tracing the origins of Terkel's interview style, and particularly of his early work on the Great Depression, have the answer here in a radio broadcast that is most timely today. Says one interviewee, sagely, "It's really-it's really hard to . . . to talk about the Depression because what can you say except you were hungry." The Wizard of Oz and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" lyricist Yip Harburg adds more wise words to Terkel's discussion of the era, as does his luminous, too-brief reflections on Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, a painting that hangs in the Art Institute of his beloved Chicago, a place rapidly disappearing. In that vein, Terkel laments the growing cancer of "The Red Lobster. The Golden Arches. Marriott hotels. You can't tell one city from another." This is no old man's nostalgic grousing-though Terkel would be entitled to that-but instead the populist editorializing of a great progressive whose credentials acquire new depth with his searching interview with the African-American novelist James Baldwin, who seldom had such a sympathetic ear for his remarks on race in America: "To be a Negro in this country is really just . . . never to be looked at. And what white people seewhen they look at you is not really you."Essential reading-as is all of Terkel's work-for would-be practitioners of journalism, oral history and "active listening."

Product Details

New Press, The
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Meet the Author

Studs Terkel (1912–2008) was an award-winning author and radio broadcaster. He is the author of Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession; Division Street: America, Coming of Age: Growing Up in the Twentieth Century; Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times; “The Good War”: An Oral History of World War II; Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do; The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century; American Dreams: Lost and Found; The Studs Terkel Interviews: Film and Theater; Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression; Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith; Giants of Jazz; Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times; And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey; Touch and Go: A Memoir; P.S.: Further Thoughts from a Lifetime of Listening; and Studs Terkel’s Chicago, all published by The New Press. He was a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of a Presidential National Humanities Medal, the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, a George Polk Career Award, and the National Book Critics Circle 2003 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 16, 1912
Date of Death:
October 31, 2008
Place of Birth:
New York, NY
Place of Death:
Chicago, IL
J.D., University of Chicago, 1934

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