"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" ...
"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.
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.
Preface Calvin Trillin xi
Foreword Robert Coles xiii
American Dreams: Lost and Found (1980)
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)
Bob Rasmus, rifleman 177
Peggy Terry, "hillbilly" 189
E. B. (Sledgehammer) Sledge, Marine 196
Peter Ota, Nisei 205
Betty Basye Hutchinson, nurse 211
Division Street: America (1967)
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)
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 Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream (1988)
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)
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)
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