Studs Terkel has turned to the ultimate human experience, that of death and the possibility of life afterward. Death is the one experience we all share but cannot know. In Studs Terkel’s powerful new book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? a wide range of people address that final experience and its impact on the present in which we live. In talking about the ultimate and unknowable culmination of our lives, these people give voice to their deepest beliefs and hopes, reflecting on the lives they have led and what still lies before them. The result is a book that may well be Terkel’s most popular, a universal and deeply moving account of death and religion.
This is the first time Terkel addresses the whole realm of religious belief and of expectations of an afterlife, including reincarnation. Interviewing a fascinating variety of people, he is able to come up with an extraordinary range of experience and of belief, all of which prove far more complex than Terkel anticipated.
In the tradition of his books Working and Coming of Age, Studs Terkel addresses an issue bound up with all of our lives, yet rarely discussed on its own terms. From a Hiroshima survivor to an AIDS caseworker, from a death row parolee to a woman who emerged from a two-year coma, these interviewees find an eloquence and grace in dealing with a topic many of us have yet to discuss openly and freely.
Terkel also interviews the vast array of people who confront death in their everyday lives, whether as policemen, firemen, emergency health workers, doctors, or nurses. Many of the most moving interviews deal with AIDS, and how the disease has devastated whole communities and forced people to face death at the young ages we associate with centuries past.
In a stunning capstone to his extraordinary career, Terkel introduces to us the variety of our reactions to life’s ultimate experience.