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Great Divide Hardcover – November 27, 1990


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Hardcover, November 27, 1990
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (November 27, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517059959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517059951
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,530,535 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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on April 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
From reading Studs Terkel's _Working_ some years ago I knew that he was a perceptive and honest writer with a ground level understanding of working-class reality. This later work,however, is even better. In fact, it is the best, the most accurate and honest, book on present day American society that I've read.
Terkel interviews a wide range of typical Americans and shows the great economic, social, racial, political, and religious differences that separate us. The primary problem seems to be the huge and growing gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" (the book makes it clear that the only thing that most Americans are really interested in is money.) He also points out the extreme historical illiteracy of the younger generations that cuts them off from their own past.
The most frightening part about the book is the almost sociopathic way in which the "haves" have of belittling the "have-nots." People with money would literally rather see poor people starve in the streets rather than see one dime of their taxes spent on "welfare." As the book points out, there's a meaness in the land that wasn't here in the thirties, and we're losing a feeling as a people.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on February 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Living life in America, it's too easy to see one's own opinion as authentic, reasonable mainstream and that of others as wild, dangerous and uninformed. Maybe that's human nature, but Americans tend to take things to extremes anyhow. Knowledge of "the facts of life" is hardly imprinted in anyone's genes. You learn these facts over a lifetime and your take on "the facts" can change overnight and dramatically. You are never more aware of the possibility of change---even in the same household---than when you read one of Studs Terkel's compilations of interviews. People from different ends of the spectrum come together, even take actions which once seemed abhorent to them. People who once shared similar views drift, or are wrenched, apart. Soldiers turn against war, ministers against the Church, housewives become activists. Other people hold onto their beliefs. In THE GREAT DIVIDE, as in "Working", "The Good War", "Division Street, America", and "Hard Times"---to name a few of his other books---Terkel presents the life stories, the views, and the complicated picture of a broad section of America. Before you spout off on what Americans think, how they feel, or what they do, it would behoove you to read this or any other of his books. When I'm tempted to make some sweeping generalization about America, I think of Studs Terkel, and keep my mouth shut. People abroad who think they've got a handle on the USA ought to check these works out too. I can't think of any other set of books that give such insight---in relatively painless form too---into American life and values. For every yuppie there's a displaced worker, for every conservative there's a radical, for everyone who knows "the answers to life's questions", there is one who keeps searching.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on December 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
_From reading Studs Terkel's _Working_ some years ago I knew that he was a perceptive and honest writer with a ground level understanding of working-class reality. This later work, however, is even better. In fact, it is the best, the most accurate and honest, book on present day American society that I've read.

_Terkel interviews a wide range of typical Americans and shows the great economic, social, racial, political, and religious differences that separate us. The primary problem seems to be the huge and growing gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" (the book makes it clear that the only thing that most Americans are really interested in is money.) He also points out the extreme historical illiteracy of the younger generations that cuts them off from their own past.

_The most frightening part about the book is the almost sociopathic way in which the "haves" have of belittling the "have-nots." People with money would literally rather see poor people starve in the streets rather than see one dime of their taxes spent on "welfare." As the book points out, there's a meaness in the land that wasn't here in the thirties, and we're losing a feeling as a people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
This book is a collection of interviews with ordinary Americans about their lives in the 1980s. A wide variety of people from many walks of life explain who they are, what they do, and what they worry about, from socialites to factory workers, from Clarence Paige to a Klan member. The general, though unstated, theme of the book seems to be the loss of the idealism of the 1960s. We hear from a university teaching assistant how students of the younger generation not only have no memories of the Vietnam conflicts, but they also have no interest in questioning authority. We hear updates from people involved in the Civil Rights movement, and from others reminiscing about their neighborhood social activism during the 60s. Many of the interviewees are from the Chicago area, highlighting the division between the various neighborhoods there that rose to a crisis-point during the 1980s. The book closes with an interview from Jean Gump, a 1980s peace-activist imprisoned for damaging a nuclear warhead, possibly intended as a positive note for the future in that it shows how some idealists were still doing what they thought was right.

Terkel documented the problems being experienced in the 1980s by union members and farmers. Looking back now, I can have pity for these people as individuals, but it seems the only way out of their quagmire was to take a different approach. Unions will have little success in maintaining wages amongst American workers as long as foreign workers earning far less per hour compete with them.
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