Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith

An indispensable oral history from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author dealing with the universal experience of death

“Terrifying, moving, painful, and redemptive. . . . Terkel provides us with [a] community, and . . . there is solace in knowing, at least for now, that we are not alone.”
Chicago Tribune

One of Studs Terkel’s most important oral histories, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? turns to the ultimate human experience—that of death. Called “extraordinary . . .
a work of insight, wisdom, and freshness” by the Seattle Times when it was first published fifteen years ago, the book explores—with unrivaled compassion and wisdom—the indelible reactions to mortality and the experience of death and the possibility of life afterward. Here, with memorable grace and poignancy, a wide variety of people addresses the unknowable culmination of our lives and its impact on the way we live. Included in this remarkable treasury of oral history are Terkel’s interviews with such famed figures as Kurt Vonnegut and Ira Glass as well as with a range of ordinary people, from policemen and firefighters to emergency health workers and nurses, who confront death in their everyday lives.

Whether with a Hiroshima survivor or an AIDS caseworker, a death-row parolee or a woman who emerged from a two-year coma, these interviews offer tremendous eloquence as they deal with a topic many are reluctant to discuss openly and freely. Rich, moving, and inspiring, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? is a stunning capstone to Terkel’s extraordinary career.



“It’s the unguarded voices he presents that stay with you. . . . Terkel’s interviews may not allay fears about death, but reading them certainly encourages life while we have it.”
The New York Times
“Extraordinary. . . . A work of insight, wisdom, and freshness.”
Seattle Times

News and Reviews

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

Coming of Age
Growing Up in the Twentieth Century

Studs Terkel

American Dreams
Lost and Found

Studs Terkel

The Studs Terkel Interviews
Film and Theater

Studs Terkel

Goodreads Reviews