Please suggest some good oral histories
June 27, 2011 6:12 PM   Subscribe

What are the best oral histories to read?

I've recently gotten into reading oral histories. I loved the recent article on about The National and the book by James Miller about ESPN.

I'd like to read more of these. Subject doesn't matter, as long as it's interesting.

posted by reenum to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Live From New York is one of my all-time favorites. It's an oral history of the Saturday Night Live show.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:32 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please Kill Me.
posted by josher71 at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2011

Anything by Studs Terkel
posted by funnyinternetmemereference at 6:47 PM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

Strongly seconding Studs Terkel.

You might also like Bloods, about African-American soldiers during the Vietnam War, and Gig, a sort-of millennial update/homage to Terkel's classic Working.
posted by box at 7:12 PM on June 27, 2011

Totally seconding Lipstick Thespian's recommendation. I used to keep Live From New York in the bathroom but guests would stay in there FOREVER.
posted by palomar at 7:34 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mitchell Zuckoff's bio of Robert Altman is pretty great.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:38 PM on June 27, 2011

Start at the source of written history itself: Herodotus' The Histories. The guy spent the first half of the fifth century BCE traveling the Mediterranean and the Middle East, conducting interviews and listening to stories about the cultures and people he encountered. The Histories is the written version of many thousands of oral histories. It was the prototype and genesis for every book already listed on this thread. Start there
posted by BadgerDoctor at 9:00 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nothing, Nobody and Voices from Chernobyl are oral histories of disasters that bring whole landscapes of experience into view in a fairly gripping, but of course deeply sad way.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:05 PM on June 27, 2011

Loose Balls, Terry Pluto's history of the ABA.
posted by AJaffe at 10:08 PM on June 27, 2011

Barry Broadfoot's oral histories are some of the best out there. The two most well known are Ten Lost Years (Canada during the Great Depression) and Six War Years (Canadians at home and abroad during WWII).

Also seconding Live From New York. Absolutely engrossing.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:33 PM on June 27, 2011

Oh man, BadgerDoctor! Herodotus! Great suggestion and they have it at my local library. I'm on it like a bomb.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:47 AM on June 28, 2011

World War Z.
posted by biffa at 7:06 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you like Live From New York, the same folks have a book about ESPN.
posted by box at 7:27 AM on June 29, 2011

The Beatles Anthology.
posted by kristi at 10:51 AM on June 29, 2011

The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys is a fun (short-ish) read. I'm not that familiar with their albums but still had a great time reading it.
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:35 AM on June 29, 2011

While I was trying to find the title of that Beastie Boys book, I also found this oral history of the Beastie Boys online. I guess there are a lot of these things around nowadays!
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2011

Oh, and of course, from a couple days ago: An Oral History of Michael Bay.
posted by Pants McCracky at 11:38 AM on June 29, 2011

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