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I live in a company town. Wouldn't have it any other way. Hardy Green misses the college town in his tour of the history and workings of the company town, an oversight in an otherwise excellent book.
Understanding the company town is an important part of making sense of how employment and living standards have evolved in the U.S. since the Industrial Revolution. The original company town was located in Lowell Massachusetts, which in the early 19th century became America's largest textile manufacturer. Lowell set the model, in which the company owns all the land and building around the factory (or mine), and where owners and management occupy roles usually reserved for government.
From the earliest days in Lowell, to the failed company towns of Gary, Indiana (steel) and Newton, Iowa (Maytag), to the near utopias of Hershey, Pennsylvania or Corning, New York, the company town loomed large in our collective economic imagination.
In the past, images of the "company town" might have included the Appalachian mining towns, places that Hardy labels "exploitationville's". Today, we are more likely to think of the new corporate campuses such as the Googleplex, utopias in the mold of Hershey PA in which all worker needs are met so as to best keep everyone coding (or making chocolate)..
If you live in a college town, you will find the stories of The Company Town perhaps a little too familiar. If you are interested in economic history (or maybe teach something that touches on the corporation, the worker, and the changing economic basis of private life), this would be a good book to add to your library.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Hardy Green in "The Company Town" has brought together an era in US industrial history which has long been forgotten. Company owned towns associated with such as Hershey, Pullman, U.S. Steel, Corning, Kaiser are all here. The history of their origin, intent, and ultimate outcomes are most informative. This is a story of utopian ideals, labor/management conflict, economics and the industrialization of the country. An entire book could have been written about each company town, but Green has aptly chosen to compile the basic stories here. What emerges is a macro perspective of the era both informative and entertaining. Well written and expertly ready by L J Ganser.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful