The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century


"A summing up of the best of Terkel."—Herbert Mitgang, Doubletake

The Studs Terkel Reader, originally published under the title My American Century, collects the best interviews from eight of Terkel's classic oral histories together with his magnificent introductions to each work. Featuring selections from American Dreams, Coming of Age, Division Street, "The Good War", The Great Divide, Hard Times, Race, and Working, this "greatest hits" ...
See more details below
$13.96 price
(Save 26%)$18.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (51) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $10.73   
  • Used (44) from $1.99   
The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99 price
(Save 42%)$18.95 List Price


"A summing up of the best of Terkel."—Herbert Mitgang, Doubletake

The Studs Terkel Reader, originally published under the title My American Century, collects the best interviews from eight of Terkel's classic oral histories together with his magnificent introductions to each work. Featuring selections from American Dreams, Coming of Age, Division Street, "The Good War", The Great Divide, Hard Times, Race, and Working, this "greatest hits" volume is a treasury of Terkel's most memorable subjects that will delight his many lifelong fans and provide a perfect introduction for those who have not yet experienced the joy of reading Studs Terkel. It includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Coles surveying Terkel's overall body of work and a new foreword by Calvin Trillin.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595581778
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Pages: 532
  • Sales rank: 637,204
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Studs Terkel is the author of twelve books of oral history. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a member of the Academy of Arts and Letters, he was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He lives in Chicago.


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.

Read More Show Less
    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

Table of Contents

Preface   Calvin Trillin     xi
Foreword   Robert Coles     xiii
Introduction     3
Note     19
The Dream
American Dreams: Lost and Found (1980)
Introduction     23
Vine Deloria, Native American author and teacher     34
Andy Johnson, hardscrabble Finnish immigrant     38
Wallace Rasmussen, Horatio Alger Award winner     42
Vernon Jarrett, African-American newspaperman     49
C. P. Ellis, former Klansman     62
Leonel I. Castillo, former director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service     77
Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970)
Introduction: A Personal Memoir (and Parenthetical Comment)     83
Ed Paulsen, freight-train rider     91
Arthur A. Robertson, mogul     99
Clifford Burke, hustler     105
Doc Graham, gangster     107
Oscar Heline, farmer     120
Jane Yoder, daughter of a WPA worker     126
Tom Yoder, Jane's son     130
Jerome Zerbe, society's photographer     130
Peggy Tevry and her mother, Mary Owsley, mountain people     137
We Still See Their Faces: Introduction to the 50th anniversary edition of The Grapes of Wrath     147
"The Good War": An Oral History of World War II (1984)
Introduction     161
Bob Rasmus, rifleman     177
Peggy Terry, "hillbilly"     189
E. B. (Sledgehammer) Sledge, Marine     196
Peter Ota, Nisei     205
Betty Basye Hutchinson, nurse     211
The City
Division Street: America (1967)
Introduction     221
Florence Scala, neighborhood crusader     226
Dennis Hart, cabbie     236
Lucy Jefferson, migrant from Mississippi     244
Kid Pharaoh, con man     252
Tom Kearney, cop     262
Chester Kolar, next-door neighbor     272
George Malley (a.k.a. Henry Lorenz), blue-collar worker     273
Eva Barnes, landlady     282
Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1972)
Introduction     301
Mike Lefevre, steelworker     319
Dolores Dante, waitress     329
Roberto Acuna, farm worker     336
Eric Nesterenko, pro hockey player     346
Phil Stallings, auto worker     354
Tom Patrick, fireman     360
The Divide
The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream (1988)
Introduction     381
Caroll Nearmyer, family farmer     393
Rex Winship, trader     400
Sam Talbert, teamster     410
Larry Heinemann, Vietnam War veteran     416
Jean Gump, suburban grandmother     421
Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992)
Introduction     429
Joseph Lattimore, African-American     450
Diane Romano, white mother of six     459
Lloyd King, mixed race     467
Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century By Those Who Have Lived It (1995)
Introduction     477
Bessie Doenges, writer     495
Jack Culberg, CEO     504
Genora Johnson Dollinger, remembering the 1937 sit-down strike     511
Jacob Lawrence, artist     521
David Brewer, environmentalist     526
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)