American Dreams: Lost And Found by Studs TerkelAs is probably completely apparent by now, I’m a really big fan of Studs Terkel. Over the course of the past couple years, I’ve read just about every book of his collected interviews that he has released to date. Of these, I would have to say that Working, Race, and The Good War were easily my favorites, although there were certainly inspiring and even essential parts to everything else he’s written as well.

Unfortunately, American Dreams: Lost And Found is probably the weakest volume of Terkel’s that I’ve read to date. As with his other books, there were a lot of individual stories that were worth reading, and a couple quotes or observations that made me feel like I wasn’t wasting my time, but at the same time it was really the only book of his that I’ve read that felt like a chore at times. Perhaps it’s because the guiding principle of the book itself is a little more subjective than some of his others, but other than some of the more historical stories I didn’t feel like I was getting as much substance as I usually do out of one of his books.

The most interesting part of the book were interviews with two people, both of whom have taken completely different routes over the course of the past nearly three decades; Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Dennis Kucinich. The interviews were conducted in 1979, and in the former you can picture a star-struck young immigrant still enamored with his new country and the possiblities that it holds for him, while the latter finds a young politician close to the end of his first term as mayor of Cleveland (he wasn’t re-elected, but it’s easy to glimpse the ideas that he’s become known for today).

Even the Terkel books that don’t hold my interest quite as much still have some noteworthy stuff in them. Really, that’s more than you can say for most.