Louis “Studs” Terkel died yesterday, at the age of 96. He was, at various points in a long and colorful life: a would-be lawyer, a radio writer/actor, a deejay, a TV show host, and author. It was in this latter occupation that he would gain a reputation as America’s greatest listener: his brilliant oral histories — taken from interviews with people from every stratum of life — showed the hand of gifted and empathetic storyteller. I’ve read Working and The Good War: both are magnificent. On a website maintained by the Chicago Historical Society, you can listen to audio recordings (via RealPlayer) made during the course of his research. If you have a spare hour (or even 10 minutes), listen to a few of these remarkable documents: it’s the sound of America talking — as a wise and knowing man listens and nods.
Posted November 1 2008 — 1:00 PM EDT
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