Books: The American Dream, and Where It All Started

Two noted authors portray the nation at birth and in its troubled middle age

THE GREAT DIVIDE

by Studs Terkel

Pantheon; 439 pages; $18.95

Others interview, Studs Terkel elicits. Under the influence of his discerning eye and disarming tongue, truck drivers and professors, black activists and Klan members, entertainers and executives yield their secret griefs and their private truths. It is appropriate that in his film debut -- in John Sayles' Eight Men Out -- Terkel plays one of the first journalists to scent the World Series fix of 1919.

In five books and a Chicago-based radio talk show, the oral historian defines the American experience with collages of interviews. By now Terkel, 76, can...

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