Terkel (1912-2008) was a fabulous storyteller of unadorned style, which may make some readers wonder why Working (1974) merits Classics Illustrated treatment. But the world is full of such small mysteries, as well as a larger one that Terkel pegged early on: Why is it that people work when work, in so many of its guises, is just a series of “daily humiliations?” “To survive the day,” Terkel writes, “is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us.” Toward the heart of the book is a longish tale with all three qualities-that of Dolores Dante, an Italian American waitress who makes barely decent money combining the skills of a boxer, dispatcher, hauler, psychologist and accountant, and has to contend with not only the occasional skinflint customer but also jealous colleagues and scummy bosses. A proofreader at a printing plant in the heady days of antiwar radicalism describes the pleasure he takes when putting one such boss in his place, while Rip Torn, the actor, recounts the trouble he encountered in Hollywood by not kowtowing to producers and studio suits. Assembly-line workers have it no better, while one pro-baseball player recounts being on the assembly line of autographing baseballs for the front office “six dozen a day! Eighty one days! That’s a lot ofbaseballs!” And so on, with only a couple of bright notes, and those from lucky souls who hit it rich. A fitting homage that reinforces the old saw: If work were any good, they wouldn’t have to pay us to do it.