The New York Times
Touch and Go: A Memoirby Studs Terkel, Sydney Lewis (Contribution by)
At nearly ninety-five, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. In Touch and Go, he offers a memoir that -- embodying/i>/i>
"Anyone who has heard Studs Terkel's voice, never mind met him, knows the vitality of this man, the liveliness, the humor and the largeness of spirit." --Robert Coles, author of Children of Crisis
At nearly ninety-five, Studs Terkel has written about everyone's life, it seems, but his own. In Touch and Go, he offers a memoir that -- embodying the spirit of the man himself -- is youthful, vivacious, and enormous fun.
Terkel begins by taking us back to his early childhood with his father, mother, and two older brothers, describing the hectic life of a family trying to earn a living in Chicago. He then goes on to recall his own experiences -- as a poll watcher charged with stealing votes for the Democratic machine, as a young theatergoer, and eventually as an actor himself in both radio and on the stage -- giving us a brilliant and often hilarious portrait of the Chicago of the 1920s and '30s. He tells of his beginnings as a disc jockey after World War II and as an interviewer and oral historian, a craft he would come to perfect and indeed personify. Finally, he discusses his involvement with progressive politics, leading inevitably to his travails during the McCarthy period, when he was blacklisted and thrown out of work despite having become by then one of the country's most popular TV hosts.
Fans of Studs Terkel will find much to discover in these remarkable reminiscences. Others will be captivated to learn of the unique and eclectic life of one of America's greatest living legends.
About the Author
Born in 1912, Studs Terkel is the bestselling author of twelve books of oral history, including Working, Hard Times, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Presidential National Humanities Medal and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Chicago.
The New York Times
After a lifetime of interviewing others, Terkel finally turns the tape recorder on himself. At least, that's what he would have us think. Terkel's memoir is more a medley of all the extraordinary characters he's encountered through his career, from the adult loners of his youth in Chicago's Wells-Grand Hotel, to New Deal politicians. Terkel details his long journey through law school, the air force, theater, radio, early television, sports commentary, jazz criticism and oral history. Surprisingly, a 12-time author who has built a career on emerging media is a hopeless Luddite. Unskilled with his tape recorder, the bread and butter of an oral historian, Terkel modestly attributes his knack for getting people to open up about their lives to his own "ineptitude" and "slovenliness." This memoir, however, is a fitting portrait of a legendary talent who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache. Never one to back down from authority, Terkel cracks jokes in law school classrooms and filibusters FBI visits by quoting long passages from Thoreau and Paine. He pogos between decades, reminding the reader that knowing history doesn't mean memorizing chronologies so much as it does attending to the lessons and voices of the past. He laments the "national Alzheimer's" afflicting this country, and fears the consequences if we don't regain consciousness. Americans might get to know their collective past a lot better if all history lessons were as absorbing and entertaining as this one. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Having chronicled the lives of nearly everyone else, 95-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner Terkel (The Good War) now tells his own story. He recalls early days in New York and his move to Chicago at age nine. Personalities such as socialist labor leader Eugene V. Debs, statesman William Jennings Bryan, and lawyer Clarence Darrow emerge as Terkel comments on the politics of the 1920s and 1930s, his liberal tendencies apparent even at a young age. After serving in World War II, he worked as a disk jockey and then had a television variety show called Studs' Place. Most compelling, though, are Terkel's reflections on his activities as a progressive during the McCarthy era, when he was blacklisted and thrown out of work despite his show's popularity. He writes of FBI visits to his home and his struggle to make a living. Throughout these reminiscences, he maintains his sense of humor, interest in the common person, and love for the arts. While at times a little disjointed and jumbled, this memoir provides an insightful and fascinating look at America's last century through the eyes of one of its most astute observers. Recommended for large public libraries.
Nancy R. Ives
- New Press, The
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
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Meet the Author
Sydney Lewis is the author of three oral histories and transcribes for and otherwise assists oral history maestro Studs Terkel.
Studs Terkel (1912–2008) was an actor in radio soap operas, a disk jockey, a radio commentator, and a television emcee, and he is the author of Working and Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression.
Norman Dietz is a writer, an actor, and a solo performer. He has also performed frequently on radio and television, and he has recorded over 150 audiobooks, many of which have earned him awards from AudioFile magazine, the ALA, and Publishers Weekly. Additionally, AudioFile named Norman one of the Best Voices of the Century.
- 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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