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Studs Terkel (Studs Louis Terkel) Biography

(1912– ), (Studs Louis Terkel), Division Street America

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Sir Rabindranath Tagore Biography to James Thomson Biography

American social historian, interviewer, critic, and radio and television broadcaster, born in New York, educated at the University of Chicago and Chicago Law School. In what remains his best known work, Division Street America (1966), Terkel says that ‘I was out to swallow the world’ … ‘The world was my city’, and in over sixty interviews with residents of Chicago he sought to represent the frequently inarticulate trials and vexations of those whom he saw as representative spokesmen and spokeswomen of urban America. The result was a literary species he called ‘guerilla journalism’ and Division Street America became an American bestseller. He deployed the same techniques of oral history, and with similar success, in Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970), Working (1974), American Dreams: Lost and Found (1980), The Good War: An Oral History of World War II (1985; Pulitzer Prize), and The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream (1988). His other works include Giants of Jazz (1956), a volume of jazz criticism; Amazing Grace (1959), a play; Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Life and Times (1977); Chicago (1986); and Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992).

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