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Studs Terkel, prize-winning author and radio broadcast personality was born Louis Terkel in New York on May 16, 1912. Terkel attended University of Chicago and received a law degree in 1934. He chose not to pursue a career in law. Terkel credits his knowledge of the world to the tenants who gathered in the lobby of the hotel and the people who congregated in nearby Bughouse Square, a meeting place for workers, labor organizers, dissidents, the unemployed, and religious fanatics of many persuasions.
In the roaring 1920s, the United States bathed in previously unheard of prosperity. Industry and agriculture alike profited from the thriving economy. Average income grew steadily throughout the decade and production soared. Levels of investment grew to new heights. However, the economy began to slow down in 1928, and the trend continued in 1929. Agricultural prices slipped, a result of production surpluses and a downturn in business activity. Despite this and other warning signs, patterns of investment continued much as they had in the mid-20s, giving little recognition to the economic slowdown. The stage was set for a major market correction. On October 24, 1929, dubbed Black Thursday, the stock market crashed. Investing froze. As a result, the national economy fell into an unprecedented period of depression. National income slipped lower each year from 1929 to 1932, and did not return to pre-depression levels until World War II. Unemployment became arguably the foremost problem of the depression.
Hard Times talks such a major part of American History and was reviewed by many. Stud Terkel did such an excellent job when describing the depression and his accounts were so accurate according to the New Times, which states “In Hard Times, Studs Terkel captures the Depression in all its vast complexity, assembling a mosaic of memories as told by those who faced destitution as well as those who stayed rich”. The Saturday Review says, “It vividly illustrates the Depression's effect on those who lived through it, and shows how bitter memories can transform into a surprising nostalgia. The book ultimately serves as "a huge anthem in praise of the American spirit".
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