The great Studs Terkel

What A Fearless Journalist Looks Like
"How could it be, at the end of World War II, we were the most honored, powerful nation in the world? 'Honored' is the key word. Today we are the most despised. How come? The American public itself has no memory of the past. Gore Vidal uses the phrase 'United States of Amnesia.' I say, United States of Alzheimer's. What do we know about it -- why are we there in Iraq? They say, when you attack our policy, you are attacking the boys. On the contrary, they're defending those boys. Welcoming them back home with their families. The war is built upon an obscene lie. We know that now. This lack of history has been denied us."

One of the great listeners of the past century, Studs Terkel, at 95, is now losing his ability to hear. He told me: "When Robert Browning wrote, 'Come and grow old with me, the best is yet to be,' he was lying through his teeth. But the one thing you can retain is the memory." His almost photographic memory is matched only by his continued intense interest in people's lives and the movements that make those lives better. He jokes: "My epitaph has already been formed: Curiosity did not kill this cat."