The Anchor Hocking Glass Company, once the world's largest maker of glass tableware, was the base on which Lancaster's society was built. As Glass House unfolds, bankruptcy looms. With access to the company and its leaders, and Lancaster's citizens, Alexander shows how financial engineering took hold in the 1980s, accelerated in the 21st century, and wrecked the company. We follow CEO Sam Solomon, an African-American leading the nearly all-white town's biggest private employer, as he tries to rescue the company from the New York private equity firm that hired him. Meanwhile, Alexander goes behind the scenes, entwined with the lives of residents as they wrestle with heroin, politics, high-interest lenders, low wage jobs, technology, and the new demands of American life: people like Brian Gossett, the fourth generation to work at Anchor Hocking; Joe Piccolo, first-time director of the annual music festival who discovers the town relies on him, and it, for salvation; Jason Roach, who police believed may have been Lancaster's biggest drug dealer; and Eric Brown, a local football hero-turned-cop who comes to realize that he can never arrest Lancaster's real problems.
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What really happened to the American Dream?
Yes. There are a lot of books out there that seek to explain what hat happened to the white working class in the last half century. Many focus on free trade and globalization. Some blame white working class culture. This book focuses squarely on the primary culprit: the corporate raider culture unleashed during the Reagan Revolution. Many other prosperous nations weathered the transition to globalism without thoroughly eviscerating their working class. Alexander's book reveals that we did this to ourselves, and we continue to permit and even celebrate a particularly predatory version of capitalism that is sucking the blood out of the nation.
Alexander effectively explains how predatory raider culture works, in all its complexities. But he humanizes the story by introducing us to its real victims.
Probably not. The narration was wooden, and was often jarringly disconnected from the journalistic style of Alexander's writings. The narrator's voice seemed especially at odds with those parts of the book when Alexander was depicting his working class subjects, and when we were hearing their words and viewpoints. The book deserved a livelier, earthier narration.
How Corporate Raiders Killed the American Dream.
I wish this book received at least as much attention as Hillbilly Elegy has received. I think it is a truer portrayal of what has happened to the white working class.