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Studs Terkel, Working

Studs Terkel's Working is a truly great book, and worthy of the many accolades it has received over the years. Simply put, the book is an oral history of Americans telling of their jobs - both the specific responsibilities involved and the meaning derived from work. The book, first published in 1974, came at a critical time - shortly after the social upheaval of the tumultuous 1960s - when people increasingly questioned their place in society and particularly the long-ingrained American work ethic. After reading the book, my impression is that the majority of workers therein were disatisfied with their jobs, seeing themselves as faceless cogs in corporate and government machines, and often powerless to make a change. But many also loved their jobs and relished going to work every day, which gave the book a much-needed balance.

Since my own words can't possibly do justice to the voices of Working's narrators, I encourage everyone to at least read the various excerpts I've been posting here during the past two years. If those excerpts move you even a tiny bit, then you absolutely must read this great book, the crowning achievement of Terkel's incomparable career.

October 13, 2010 in Books, Studs Terkel: Working | Permalink