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Hard times; an oral history of the great…
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Hard times; an oral history of the great depression (original 1970; edition 1970)

by Studs Terkel

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1,2591114,390 (4.05)27
In this unique recreation of one of the most dramatic periods in modern American history, Studs Terkel recaptures the Great Depression of the 1930s in all its complexity. featuring a mosaic of memories from politicians, businessmen, artists, and writers, from those who were just kids to those who remember losing a fortune, Hard Times is not only a gold mine of information but a fascinating interplay of memory and fact, revealing how the Depression affected the lives of those who experienced it firsthand. "A huge anthem in praise of the American spirit." — Saturday Review. "… (more)
Member:RosaParksBooks
Title:Hard times; an oral history of the great depression
Authors:Studs Terkel
Info:[New York] Avon [1971, c1970]. 1972 printing.
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Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel (1970)

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In this book, Terkel relays oral histories of people who were exposed to the Depression including farmers, politicians, industrialists, African Americans, artists. You name it, it's in there. It is history through the eyes of the common and not-so-common man.

It strikes me that a book like this would be highly unlikely to be published today - - in the days where YouTube and blogging provide thousands of first person accounts of the world around us. Available in seconds.

I thought that this book would be truly fascinating, but because I didn't really know enough (or recollect enough history classes) about the Depression, I found myself constantly distracted by the many acronyms for government programs. Some of the folks really told about what life was like in and interesting way, but others reminded me of old, boring people who just were telling dull, tangential stories.

All in all, I think if the author had prefaced his chapter with some analysis of the group of people he was talking to and some historical facts, I would have loved the book. But the standalone oral histories didn't quite do it for me.

Nonetheless, I would read more Terkel, but if I selected one of his books that focused on a historical event, I'd read a background book first on the event so I was a little more educated before delving into the histories. ( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |

A masterfully organized relating of oral anecdotes from Great Depression America. The author collected them all himself and they range from touching to depressing to amusing to astounding. ( )
  qaphsiel | Feb 20, 2023 |
nonfiction/collection of oral histories from various perspectives on the 1930s in the U.S. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
"It was the time of the Oxford Pledge and the movement against Fascism; his temptation to go to Spain as a member of the Lincoln Brigade . . . 'I was an ideal recruit, alone, on the run, searching for something'; a serious affair with a schoolteacher, running away . . . 'This is part of the Depression. You lived in a fear of responsibility for another person. You backed off when someone got close.' . . . I was born out of the Depression. I gave up my illusions. No more [a:Horatio Alger Jr.|2117358|Horatio Alger Jr.|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1310233977p2/2117358.jpg] I had a few bad hours, a few bad years. But I found excitement. It was an awakening" (Ray Wax, p. 458). ( )
1 vote | staunchwoody | Oct 30, 2020 |
A bit of a slog. Less drama than I expected, less diversity (both in the interviewees and in their voices), and more interviews with the rich and privileged. As an oral history, it doesn't compare with Svetlana Alexievich's "Voices from Chernobyl."

> I got out of art school in 1930. That was the proper time for any artist to get out of school. (Laughs.) Everybody was unemployed, and the artist didn't seem strange any more. ( )
  breic | Feb 27, 2020 |
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Epigraph
See, I never heard that word "depression" before. They would all just say hard times to me. It still is.
Roger, a fourteen-year-old Appalachian boy, living in Chicago
A Depression might be interesting today. It could really be something. To be on the bum, and have nobody say: "Look, I'll give you $10,000 if you'd just come back and go to school." We have a choice today. What would it be like if we had no choice?
Tom, 20
This I remember. Some people put this out of their minds and forget it. I don't want to forget it. I don't want it to take the best of me, but I want to be there because it happened. This is the truth, you know. History.
Cesar Chavez
They loved us who had passed away.
They forgot all our errors. Our names were mixed.
The story was long.
The young people danced. They brought down new boughs for the flame. They said, Go on with the story now. What happened next?
For us there was silence...
Genevieve Taggard, 1940
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For my wife, my son and my editor
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This is a memory book, rather than one of hard fact and precise statistic.
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In this unique recreation of one of the most dramatic periods in modern American history, Studs Terkel recaptures the Great Depression of the 1930s in all its complexity. featuring a mosaic of memories from politicians, businessmen, artists, and writers, from those who were just kids to those who remember losing a fortune, Hard Times is not only a gold mine of information but a fascinating interplay of memory and fact, revealing how the Depression affected the lives of those who experienced it firsthand. "A huge anthem in praise of the American spirit." — Saturday Review. "

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