Working

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

Studs Terkel’s classic oral history of Americans’ working lives—and the inspiration for Barack Obama’s new Netflix series about work in the twenty-first century

“Reading these stories, I started to consider my own place in the world, and understand how connected we are to one another. [Working] helped inform the choices I made in my own work.” —President Barack Obama

Perhaps Studs Terkel’s best-known book, Working is a compelling, fascinating look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews conducted with everyone from gravediggers to studio heads, this book provides a moving snapshot of people’s feelings about their working lives, as well as a timeless look at how work fits into American life.

Working received rave reviews upon its initial publication, including from the New York Times Book Review, which praised its “incredible abundance of marvelous beings” and “very special electricity and emotional power,” and the Boston Globe, which called it a “magnificent book . . . a work of art,” adding, “To read it is to hear America talking.”

Nearly fifty years after its initial publication, Working remains a deeply relevant American classic, one of the most important works of oral history ever published.

Praise

“Reading these stories, I started to consider my own place in the world, and understand how connected we are to one another. [Working] helped inform the choices I made in my own work.”
—President Barack Obama
“Magnificent. . . . To read it is to hear America talking.”
The Boston Globe
“The talk in Working is good talk—earthy, passionate, honest, sometimes tender, sometimes crisp, juicy as reality, seasoned with experience.”
The Washington Post
“I cannot find words to express sufficiently my admiration for Studs Terkel’s Working. . . . Only an interviewer of genius, exploiting the tape recorder as hardly anyone else has done, could possibly have brought it forth.”
—Lewis Mumford
“Splendid . . . important . . . rich and fascinating . . . the people we meet are not digits in a poll but real people with real names who share their anecdotes, adventures, and aspirations with us.”
Business Week

News and Reviews

Reading List

A reading list of books by legendary author and oral historian Studs Terkel, from Americans at work, to a portrait of World War II.

President Barack Obama and Working

Celebrating Studs Terkel’s legacy and the launch of President Barak Obama’s Netflix docuseries inspired by Terkel’s classic book, Working.

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

Giants of Jazz

Studs Terkel

Touch and Go
A Memoir

Studs Terkel

And They All Sang
Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey

Studs Terkel

Division Street
America

Studs Terkel

Goodreads Reviews