Oral history and hard times a review essay

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Set in a diner, it featured stories about regular folks. The actors improvised their dialogue rather than rely on scripts. When network executives urged him to disavow the causes he had supported, he refused to retract anything. Banishment from television hurt Terkel financially but worked to his advantage as an interviewer.

He returned to radio by persuading the fledgling Chicago fine arts station WFMT to let him host a music and talk show. The Studs Terkel Program ran from until , first weekly and then five days a week. Its open structure allowed Terkel to develop an interviewing style that would not have been possible on more tightly formatted television. Like his eclectic taste in music, his choice of interviewees ranged widely, from singers and musicians to authors, actors, and activists. The result was Division Street: America , whose interviews with ordinary people, both black and white, won praise from reviewers and became a best-seller.

Schiffrin next proposed that Terkel ask people to recall how the Depression had affected them, which inspired another best-seller, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression For Hard Times , Terkel moved beyond Chicago to widen the range of locations and social status of his interviewees. Periodically, Terkel took leave from his radio show to crisscross the country, interviewing for his books. Often he removed the questions that elicited such compelling responses, which left the impression that he was simply holding a mirror to society.

The critic Edward Rothstein charged that Terkel infused his own perspective into his oral histories.

blenralihorking.ml His genuine empathy and respect for his diverse interviewees encouraged them to speak candidly. His ineptness in operating tape recorders and other equipment also put them at ease. Lyricist Stephen Schwartz turned it into a Broadway musical, Working While continuing to write and broadcast, he occasionally acted. His appearance as a taxi driver in a television movie, The Dollmaker , required a stunt double since he had never learned to drive.

Short, compact, gregarious, and dressed habitually in a red-checked shirt, blue blazer, gray slacks, and red socks, Terkel became a national icon. Even as his fame grew, however, Terkel felt uncomfortably detached from the national mood of the conservative s.

His oral history of that decade, The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream , recorded a deepening chasm between the haves and have-nots, and further divisions by race and religion. He despaired that Americans had cut themselves off from past values and were suffering from collective amnesia. Terrific blog and superb style and design. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Review this book Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Name First Last.