cover image WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and a Hunger for Faith

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and a Hunger for Faith

Studs Terkel, . . New Press, $25.95 (407pp) ISBN 978-1-56584-692-0

In the past, Terkel (The Good War) has gotten people to talk about their concrete experiences, like family, war and the Depression, rather than an event that no one can talk about after having experienced it. Now Terkel, a gifted interviewer, encourages the subjects of this book to talk openly about their feelings regarding life's final frontier. The raconteurs who share their moving stories in this collection range from emergency room doctors and paramedics to public figures such as Kurt Vonnegut, NPR commentator Ira Glass and country music guitarist Doc Watson. Each of Terkel's subjects brings his or her unique insights to the mystery of death. For example, emergency room doctor Ed Reardon says we fear death because we don't understand it, and that it's hope that keeps us going while we're alive. Country woman Peggy Terry observes that death would not be so frightening if "we've fulfilled ourselves as human beings, not as collectors of stuff, money, and bank accounts." Tico Valle, a young Latino gay male, reflects on the death of his partner and the significance of reincarnation for understanding the meaning of life. Finally, Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Mobley, poignantly recalls her son's sacrifice: "Emmett had died that men might have freedom here on Earth. That we might have a right to life.... If Jesus Christ died for our sins, Emmett Till bore our prejudices." Terkel's refusal to overwhelm readers with his own philosophical reflections and his willingness to allow ordinary men and women to speak for themselves make this a stirring and enlightening collection that will lead readers to think more deeply about their own hopes and fears. (Oct.)

Forecast:This is bound to be another bestseller for Terkel, who will tour five cities to promote it. First serial was sold to the Atlantic Monthly.