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THE GREAT DIVIDE Second Thoughts on the American Dream by Studs Terkel (Avon: $4.95)

September 24, 1989|CHARLES SOLOMON

To compile his most controversial "talking book," Studs Terkel interviewed dozens of Americans representing diverse economic strata, educational levels and ethnicities. The result is a profoundly disillusioned work that reveals a society as deeply divided as it was during the '60s, but along economic, rather than ideological, lines. For the first time in this country's history, many people believe that their children will have a lower standard of living than their parents, instead of a higher one. Surprisingly, most of Terkel's subjects seem to accept this unhappy outlook with resignation, rather than bitterness. If "The Great Divide" accurately reflects conditions here, America is in eminent danger of splitting into three hostile societies: the Haves, the Have-Nots and the Want-to-Haves, a situation with ominous implications.

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