Monday, November 3, 2008

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Studs Terkel Dead at 96

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Studs Terkel Dies (AP)

Studs Terkel, the ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the "non-celebrated," died Friday.

He was 96.

He was an old rebel who never mellowed, never retired, never forgot, and "never met a picket line or petition I didn't like."

New York Times: The voice is unforgettable, as if each phrase scraped the ear with a scoopful of gravel. What remains in the memory too is the earnestness that could turn both fervent and sentimental.

USA Today: Terkel had the listening skills of a psychologist, the timing of a comic, the curiosity of a scholar, and the gravelly voice of a boxing promoter.

Christian Science Monitor: If you can imagine Walt Whitman hosting a Midwest radio talk show, wearing a checkered shirt and drawling like a movie gangster, you've conjured up America's greatest oral historian.

Times of London: Terkel's political sympathies almost killed his career during Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crackdown of the 1950s. He was dumped from an early radio show when he refused to distance himself from liberal causes.

Chicago Tribune: He took the obscure academic exercise known as oral history and turned it into literature.

In transcribing the words and hopes of ordinary people, he gave voice to the voiceless. WaPo: Reporters and priests and psychologists know it takes a certain kind of personality to get a certain kind of person to speak honestly. Terkel's gift -- displayed on his syndicated radio program for decades, as well as in print -- was just this.

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