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The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  262 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A personal selection of the best interviews from eight classic books by America's much-loved pre-eminent oral historian, Studs Terkel.
Paperback, 532 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by New Press, The (first published 1997)
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Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Studs Terkel, who represents an era of American that is, unfortunately, long lost. I wish there were a hundred of him today.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I count myself a Studs Terkel fan. That said I have a reservation or two about The Studs Terkel American Reader: My American Century. (Paper Back Edition). Terkel is at his best letting American speak for themselves. His skill is at helping them to open up and asking a minimal number of questions. What is best about this collection is variety of American that tell their story. The total read feels a bit loaded as if Studs had chosen from a more balanced group to insure that one of his last colle ...more
Joseph Weyek
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed most of the interviewees' stories. Some of them are assholes. Oh well. I'm bad and judgmental. Terkel makes obscure references at times. In the future most people won't understand them. He's not very bright, but he made of living doing what he did. Hurray for Studs.
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a "best of" Studs Terkel's most influential works. Terkel's writing showcases ordinary people and reveals what life is like for them through taped interviews he transcribes and seamlessly knits together. Mostly his chapters feel like monologues--almost as if people living at key points in history suddenly reflected on their times and what has seemed most important. For purists, this collection may be leaving out some great moments from the other books. This collection is a great place to ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book, because I love people telling their own stories. The intros written by Studs himself were too long and unfocused in my opinion. Also, the vast majority of entries focused on class. Class is an important issue in America and everywhere else, but come on, it isn't the only issue. I got really bored of reading whether somebody was rich or poor and skipped a lot of stories for this reason.
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, grownup
Good stuff. The only other book of his I'd read was Working, plus listening to some of his interviews here and there. This one is his "best of," with interviews from all his books plus the introductions to each book. The net result is a higher percentage of direct Terkel writing than usual, which is okay by me. It really is a decent social-historical glance at the century, and he's so good at getting good details out of people.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, chicago
Overwhelming, but enriching. Studs is all about labor unions, and racial injustices, and the hand-holding-helping days of the early 20th century, and progessive ideas, and hope. This book goes well with a side dish of Pete Seeger, because their concerns are awfully alike. More importantly, both use(d) their own voice to lift up the common, collective voice, Pete in his concert sing-alongs and Studs in the oral histories collected here.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Though this reader is good for my students, the excerpts are frequently too short and don't include some important interviews. The excerpt from Race doesn't include the prologue by Mamie Moblie, Emmit Till's mother. It's probably good for Terkel newcomers, but if you're interested in one of the eras or events or topics he covers, I'd recommend reading the full book.
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Author Terkel's historical documentary composed of personal stories and memoirs from people all over the country. Most stories tell of major historical events, such as wars or the Depression. Interesting to read everyday people's accounts of major life events. Nice to pick up and read a story or two every now and then.
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful compilation of some of the great interviews by Studs Terkel. At times moving and at others infuriating, a priceless look into the lives of ordinary Americans throughout the century. I recommend skipping the introductions to each section, because they "spoil" some of the great quotables and personalities from some of the interviews.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Studs Terkel, writer, philosopher, interviewer and lecturer has served up a great feast that makes me feel overstuffed. Sometimes I wanted to swallow it up so the words would become part of me and help me grow. Sometimes I wanted to pass, "No thank you, I'm allergic."
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This deserves a higher rating for importance, but I found the experience of reading it difficult. The subject matter is better suited to audio, and I'd recommend sticking with his individual books (like WWII) rather than the compilation.
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Studs Terkel is simplly amazing. I need to read more of his books (if anyone has any they'd like to donate). Not to sound trite, but he truly is an American treasure. I cannot recommend him highly enough.
Tim Thrailkill
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Studs' chronicles of America have preserved tales of everyday America , the toils, aspirations, dreams and voices. Clearly an influence on Ken Burns, Terkel's missives paint modern America for the reader in a kaleidoscope of the lives of yesteryear.'
Fantastic book told in Studs down to earth style.
I found the translation (for lack of a better term) from oral story telling to the written word distracting. No stars to give.
Dec 30, 2009 added it
Did not finish, not due to quality, due to life.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this classic by Studs Terkel over a period of several years, and finally finished it!
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: people-place
This has been my bedside reading for the past six months, just a few pages at a time. I love Studs... May his tribe increase. (Oh wait, it is! Podcast journalism!)
I dig Studs Terkel and the discussion at book club was great, but, yeah, did not read this at all. studs rode in the car with me for a month, tho. He was a good passenger.
Beth Shields-Szostak
signed & inscribed by author; pages are bound in correct order but inserted upside down
Mary Kathryn
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
The stories and oral histories were really interesting, but too much Studs - he sounded like a cranky old man.
Leonard Pierce
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Studs Terkel is a national treasure, and this is as good a place as any to start with his trademark oral histories.
Chris Cook
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
It was an interesting, but fragmented read.
Timothy McCluskey
rated it really liked it
May 20, 2009
Steve Smith
rated it it was amazing
Jun 07, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2012
K Sorin
rated it it was amazing
Sep 16, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2009
Matthew Guggemos
rated it it was amazing
Apr 16, 2014
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Louis "Studs" Terkel was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for "The Good War", and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.

Terkel was acclaimed for his efforts to preserve American oral history. His 1985 book "The Good War: An Oral History
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