Touch and Go

A Memoir

The extraordinary, widely praised memoir—“a masterpiece about a life which itself is a sort of masterpiece” (Oliver Sacks)

“The master storyteller tells his own story, as no one else can, irresistibly.” —Garry Wills

Chosen as a best book of the year in 2007 by the Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, and Playboy, Studs Terkel’s memoir Touch and Go is “history from a highly personal point of view, by one who has helped make it” (Kirkus).

Terkel takes us through his childhood and into his early experiences—as a law student during the Depression, as a young theatergoer, and eventually as an actor himself on both radio and the stage—offering a brilliant and often hilarious portrait of Chicago in the 1920s and ’30s. Describing his beginnings as a disc jockey after World War II, his involvement with progressive politics during the McCarthy era, and later his career as an interviewer and oral historian, Touch and Go is a testament to Terkel’s “generosity of spirit, sense of social justice, and commitment to capture on his ever-present tape recorder the voices of those who otherwise would not be heard” (The New York Times Book Review). It is a brilliant lifetime achievement from the man the Washington Post has called “the most distinguished oral historian of our time.”



“Curious, generous, fraternal, and respectful, with a Whitmanesque yawp.”
Harper’s Magazine
“Bitter and sweet, sexy and morally uplifting, intimate and historically significant.”
—Victor Navasky
“Engaging, entertaining, and evocative of a big-hearted American liberalism we don’t hear much about anymore.”
Los Angeles Times
“A fitting portrait of a legendary talent who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache.”
Publishers Weekly

News and Reviews

Book Excerpt

Read an excerpt from Touch and Go on The New Press blog.

In March 1970, Maya Angelou sat down with Studs Terkel for a radio interview about her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Books by Studs Terkel

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

Studs Terkel

And They All Sang
Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey

Studs Terkel

Hard Times
An Oral History of the Great Depression

Studs Terkel

Goodreads Reviews