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.”



“A fitting portrait of a legendary talent who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache.”
Publishers Weekly
“Engaging, entertaining, and evocative of a big-hearted American liberalism we don’t hear much about anymore.”
Los Angeles Times
“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

News and Reviews

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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

Division Street

Studs Terkel

Hope Dies Last
Keeping the Faith in Troubled Times

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Giants of Jazz

Studs Terkel

Goodreads Reviews