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American Dreams: Lost and Found

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565845459
ISBN-10: 1565845455
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Here is raw material for one thousand novels in one medium-sized book!... Incomparable. Studs Terkel's done it again. -- Margaret Atwood

In American Dreams, Mr. Terkel, a superb editor as well as the ideal listener... becomes Walt Whitman. -- John Leonard

Studs Terkel has captured the melody of America. -- Nicholas Von Hoffman

Studs Terkel shows America from the inside out -- a fascinating and revelatory portrait. -- Ronald Steel

The best of Terkel's works. A stirring, hopeful book. -- Robert Sherrill, front page, New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

Americans, their hopes, remembrances and achievements come alive in this bestselling collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (September 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845459
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Studs Terkel (1912-2008) was a free spirit, an outspoken populist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a terrible ham, and one of the best-loved characters on the American scene. Born in New York in 1912, he lived in Chicago for over eight decades. His radio show was carried on stations throughout the country.

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful reflection of the diversity of dreams and realities of so many people. Terkel collects people from all walks of life and probes there dreams--what they are, what they were, how they've changed.
He engages them to tell there stories of success and failure, hardship and longing, understanding and transformation.
I never felt more in touch with the unique nature of America than when I was reading this book. I would recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
Gritty journalist/author Studs Terkel (1912-2008) spent decades letting people tell their stories, and the result is more than a dozen solid oral histoires. This 1980 effort is one of his best, with over 100 Americans talking about their lives and that ever-elusive American Dream. Most interviewees try defining the dream, but focus more effectively on their work, successes, and (often) frustrations. Ms. USA (1973) discusses the shallowness of her title. Frank Wills describes a lack of opportunities after uncovering the Watergate break-in. Anti-nuclear activist Sam Lovejoy describes opposing new power plants in Massachusetts. Businessman Ted Turner discusses his upcoming news network (CNN), while a football lineman confesses using false anger to inspire his game. We hear from business leaders, liberal activists (a Terkel staple), the poor of Appalachia, and aged children of immigrants (who also remember their parents). Also chipping in are street-wise community workers, a 1963 Civil Rights marcher, and politicians as diverse as Detroit Mayor Coleman Young and right-wing Senator Jesse Helms (both are less embarrassing than expected).

As usual, many of Terkel's interviewees are from Chicago (plus Kentucky, Oregon, and New England) and on balance they tilt a bit leftwards with skepticism towards the establishment. Still, this is an interesting look at, about, and from ordinary Americans. Readers should also see Terkel's other top efforts, such as WORKING, THE GOOD WAR (World War II), and HARD TIMES (Great Depression).
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Format: Paperback
As I have done on other occasion when I am reviewing more than one work by an author I am using some of the same comments, where they are pertinent, here as I did in earlier reviews. In this series the first Studs Terkel book reviewed was that of his "The Good War": an Oral History of World War II.

Strangely, as I found out about the recent death of long time pro-working class journalist and general truth-teller "Studs" Terkel I was just beginning to read his "The Good War", about the lives and experiences of, mainly, ordinary people during World War II in America and elsewhere, for review in this space. As with other authors once I get started I tend to like to review several works that are relevant to see where their work goes. In the present case the review of American Dreams: Lost And Found serves a dual purpose. First, to reflect on the lives of working people (circa 1980 here but the relevant points could be articulated, as well, in 2008): the recent arrivals to these shores hungry to seek the "streets of gold"; those Native Americans, as exemplified by Vince Deloria's story, whose ancestors preceded our own and who continue to bring up the rear; those blacks and mountain whites who made the internal migratory trek from the South and, in some cases, found more in common than in difference; and, others who do not easily fit into any of those patterns but who nevertheless have stories to tell. And grievances, just, unjust or whimsical, to spill. Secondly, always hovering in the background is one of Studs' preoccupations- the fate of his generation- the so-called "greatest generation". Those stories, as told here, are certainly a mixed bag. Thus, there is no little irony in the title of this oral history.
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Format: Paperback
As advertised! The book consists of the pared down life story interviews of hundreds of Americans (two through five pages for most), and highlights both the hopes of younger and the bitterness of the elderly. American Dreams: Lost and Found interviews people from all walks of life and races, including civil rights activists, house wives, Miss America herself (winner in 1970), a Klansman, a coal miner, professors, unionizers, politicians, entrepreneurs, hippies, flappers, heroes, criminals, and even a few famous people like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It manages to accurately convey the intangible concept of 'American Dream,' which before reading this book, I thought would be impossible.

Be warned this isn't a book to read in one or even ten sittings; it's like reading hundreds of short stories, each covering a lifetime of experiences.
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