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Books that Shaped Work in America

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Title    Author    Year    Contributors
Working:  People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do

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What Others are Saying

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day
and How They Feel About What They Do

Author: Studs Terkel

Year Published: 1974

What Others are Saying:

  • Studs Terkel wrote this oral history about what actual American workers had to say about work in America.
  • Studs Terkel was an American legend and Working is one of his greatest books.
  • Studs Terkel is perhaps the 20th century's most important labor historian.
  • Mr. Terkel accurately describes a variety of occupations from the point of view of the worker.
  • Although written more than 40 years ago, Mr. Terkel's narratives and thoughts on the world of work are still relevant and compelling today. This book is a great window into the fabric of American culture and the integral part that work and the value we assign to it has in our everyday lives.
  • Looks at what it means to work and why it is important from wide ranging perspectives.
  • The foreword describes this book as " a ragtag collection of little guy monologues," and that's exactly what it is. It contains interviews with over one hundred people who talk about their jobs. Published in 1974, it portrays what it was like to work in America in earlier times. It's an incredible oral history.
  • It is the stories in their own words of men and women in every sort of work imaginable. It is true and funny and touching, and will make us value everyone's contribution more, including those with disabilities. It is a true classic
  • Through one-on-one interviews, this book provides personal insight to the actual details of hundreds of different jobs. Individuals talk about what they do in their job and in their workplace and express how they feel about it. It is a very honest, candid view of the American workplace and its workers.
  • Terkel did a fabulous job of eliciting people's feelings about their work -- a wide variety of people at all educational levels in all types of jobs. This snapshot of working people in the 20th century would be an invaluable addition to your list.
  • This books is an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people in all walks of life.
  • This was a widely-read book which helped to open people's eyes to how working people felt about their life's work and inspired a generation of scholars to more thoroughly document the lives of working people; the book also set off a tsunami of scholars and ordinary folk using the technique of collecting oral histories to document all kinds of aspects of life
  • This is a collection of essays written from the point of view of people talking about their work. There are a lot of books out there that talk about what knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to do a job or even how to move from one job to another. What this book does better than any other is really show what working in certain positions is like. This type of reflection is important and missing in most of our lives. It is important that people really think about what it is is about their situation that they enjoy and what they do not enjoy. I was a career counselor for years and made every attempt to encourage this level of reflection in my clients.
  • There is hardly an interviewer, commentator or probing journalist among us who can elicit so much grief and passion, so many forlorn hopes and decayed dreams, so much of the tedium and frustration of daily existence from his subjects as Studs Terkel. QUOTED ROM KIRKUS REVIEWS Studs Terkel gives us a look at everyday people doing everyday work. His life and legacy defines a period of labor and work in America--no collection on labor and work is complete without Studs!
  • Classic book about the meaning of work in the USA.
  • This nonfictional work is an interesting exploration into what motivates people do a certain type of work. I found that it also provided some perspective as to what people don't like about their jobs and why a particular career path can sometimes not turn out to be what the person thought or hoped it would be.
  • Studs Terkel was perhaps the finest oral historian of the 20th century. "Working" and two other of his oral histories, "Hard Time: An Oral History of the Great Depression," and "The Good War: An Oral History of World War II," were best sellers. Unheard of! Studs was prolific. He took on topics others tip-toed around, e.g. "Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession." Mostly, however, he was interested in the common man (and woman). And "Working" was one of his finest works.
  • This book should be on the list because it is an oral history of workers frankly talking about the drudgery of their work-a-day lives. This book is as real today as it was in 1974.
  • Can't believe it's not already on the list -- Classic!
  • A collection of oral histories about working stiffs. Stuart Brotman in FORBES called it "a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them... a time capsule of the agricultural and industrial eras."
  • Studs Terkel is perhaps the 20th Century's most important labor historian. If you are the United States Department Of Labor and you don't know who Studs Terkel is, then this country is even more screwed-up than I thought.
  • Obvious
  • Self – explanatory
  • Oral History
  • This books is an exploration of what makes work meaningful for people in all walks of life.
  • Arguably one of the best books ever written about people, their jobs and the nature of work itself.
  • tuds Terkel provided insights into the occupations and perspectives of Americans from many walks of life. He knew how to write good questions, how to listen, and how to convey responses like very few.
  • This book is essentially a series of essays about different types of jobs worked by different types of people in America. What makes it wonderful is that the essays are transcripts of interviews conducted by the author, making it an amazing oral history. Studs Terkel spoke with more than 130 workers from all economic classes - a bookbinder, a gravedigger, a farmer, a lawyer, a librarian, a stonecutter, a piano turner, and the list goes on. Although the book was published in 1974, it spoke to me when I first read it in the late 1980s. I found my first career reading this book: I wanted to be Studs Terkel, interviewing people and sharing their stories. As a result, upon graduating from college, I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for more than a decade. Even though the world and work have changed drastically since 1974, the stories in this book are still inspiring and illuminating. Not only do you learn about the type of work each person performed, but each essay paints a picture of place, time and socioeconomic class.

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