A Washington Post reporter's intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin - Paul Ryan's hometown - and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle class.
This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its factory stills - but it's not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next, when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.
Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Goldstein has spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession, two days before Christmas of 2008. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, she makes one of America's biggest political issues human. Her reporting takes the listener deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job retrainers to show why it's so hard in the 21st century to re-create a healthy, prosperous working class.
For this is not just a Janesville story or a Midwestern story. It's an American story.
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If Hillary read this book, she'd be President now.
I don't generally listen to books twice, so I would not listen again. I would recommend it.
First performance. It was good.
I think the book should be required reading for politicians to see the actual impacts of the job losses in middle America. Janesville, Paul Ryan's hometown, suffered after the closure of the GM plant in 2008. The author follows the story of several people in town over the course of 8 years, from the laid off to the well off. Not everyone makes it, and all have to adapt. Bottom line is that it is not about jobs but about wages and jobs. Everyone found a new job, but no one was making more money after GM. She did not chronicle anyone that moved from town, which is often necessary for work. Finally, the book would have been really outstanding if the author had managed to have some access to GM and UAW decision making on the inside. She can only see from the outside and so we really don't know the full story of what was behind the GM move to close Janesville but keep other plants.
This book will shake your foundations!
- Elizabeth B. Brandt