Studs Terkel, venerable historian of the experience of the common man, has again recorded the voices of the century and come up with a stunning chorus. A sequel to Working (1974), Coming of Age is divided not by professions but by callings. Here are 69 men and women, who, beyond retirement, are still advocates for unions and business, education, law, the arts, God and the community.
As always, Terkel, now 83, has a knack for getting people to open up. Philip Roettinger, 79, candidly recounts—and ultimately regrets—the role he played as a CIA operative in the Guatemalan coup of the '50s. Jack Culbert, 79, who appeared in Working, looks back on the last 20 years in the top management of several conglomerates. "I envy the young their rage," he concludes, "but not their future."
Filled with stories of accomplishment and activism, Coming of Age never lapses into nostalgia. Its protagonists show that courage and passion developed in youth do not have to fade with age. (The New Press, $25)