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In a Preface the author tells us that this book was conceived of by his editor as something comparable to Jan Myrdal's Report from a Chinese Village. This is a report from an American city, Chicago, in the very transitory present, involving a vast cross-section of urban thought and feelings. With a tape recorder Terkle spoke with all kinds of residents of today's Chicago--in the inner city and the outlying sections, looking for, he says, ""the thoughts of non-celebrated people concerning themselves, past and present, the city, the society, the world."" He talked to homeowners, housewives, project dwellers, old settlers, new arrivals, skilled hands, unskilled, the retired, the young, dedicated people, the resigned, the ""swingers,"" the well-to-do, mothers-on-assistance, etc., etc. The responses of these various kinds of people are by and large in personal terms (huge facts like the Bomb are too enormous and too remote for comprehension). There are a good number who are actively concerned with social issues ranging from the YAF'er to the young middle class couple sharing the lot of the poor. One constant theme is the mourned loss of the ""neighborhood"" and the disappearance of a sense of community life, symbolized by the destruction of Hull House in 1963. Increasingly Chicago, like so many ""urban centers,"" is becoming a city for the very rich and the very poor. The rich because they find excitement there and the poor because they have no choice. Division Street: America is more than a collection of individuals talking about themselves. It's a pertinent commentary by voices not always heard from, on the way we live now in urban America.

Publisher: Pantheon