Telling It Like It Is
Memory is not simply recalling events. It is, as poet Peter Balakian notes, a moral act. Beyond that, how society constructs and represents the past is profoundly political. What is celebrated, denigrated or omitted has widespread ideological implications.
Studs Terkel was never neutral or passive. The longtime Chicago radio host was the Pulitzer Prize-winning pioneer in oral history capturing the voices of Americans from all walks of life. In the 1930s, while acting in the theatre, he dropped his given name, Louis and adopted the name Studs, after the fictional character Studs Lonigan. He was the author of numerous books including Working, Hard Times, The Good War, and Hope Dies Last. He was the recipient of many honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critic’s Circle and the Presidential National Humanities Medal. He was a legend and his voice and work will endure. Studs Terkel died in Chicago on October 31, 2008. He was 96.