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Janesville
Cover of Janesville
Janesville
An American Story
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* Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year * Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize​ * 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post...
* Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year * Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize​ * 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post...
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  • * Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year * Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize​ * 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post Notable Book * An NPR Best Book of 2017 * A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017 * An Economist Best Book of 2017 * A Business Insider Best Book of 2017 *

    "A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience" (Bob Woodward, The Washington Post)—an intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, 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 main factory shuts down—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–winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America's biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

    "Moving and magnificently well-researched...Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States. What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis" (Jennifer Senior, The New York Times).

    "Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville. The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story—a stark, heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences—is told with rare sympathy and insight" (Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Soul of a New Machine).

About the Author-

  • Amy Goldstein has been a staff writer for thirty years at The Washington Post, where much of her work has focused on social policy. Among her awards, she shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She has been a fellow at Harvard University at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Janesville: An American Story is her first book. She lives in Washington, DC.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from March 15, 2017
    A Midwestern town struggles to survive in the aftermath of an economic disaster.Based on three years of probing interviews, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Goldstein makes her literary debut with an engrossing investigation of Janesville, Wisconsin, where General Motors, the town's major employer, closed its plant in 2008. Like Barbara Ehrenreich and George Packer, Goldstein reveals the shattering consequences of the plant's closing through an evenhanded portrayal of workers, educators, business and community leaders, and politicians--notably, Paul Ryan, a Janesville native who swept into town periodically. Like other politicians, Ryan made promises that proved empty. In 2012, Janesville voters chose Barack Obama over their native son. In 2016, when Wisconsin broke with its Democratic tradition and voted Republican, 52 percent of voters in Janesville's county supported Hillary Clinton. Janesville exemplifies the plight of many cities after sustaining industry leaves. Unemployment rose to 13 percent, and many former GM workers opted for federally subsidized job training. Yet such training, Goldstein discovered, rarely leads to solid employment. The head of the local community college, deluged with new students, found them shockingly deficient in skills: she designed a -boot camp- for students who did not know how to turn on a computer and a student success course for those with poor study skills. Many dropped out in frustration; some opted for any part-time work they could find; and the few who persisted often faced lack of job opportunities. Families struggled to pay mortgages for houses quickly becoming devalued, and they faced daunting medical costs without health coverage. Business leaders stepped in with optimistic reform measures, but their self-congratulatory work had little effect. Those in social services, repeatedly disappointed and disillusioned by lack of government interest, did manage to devise effective support strategies. The author saw the growing divide of two Janesvilles whose views were evident in the election, recall, and triumph of the anti-union governor, Scott Walker. Although by 2013, the town had recovered to some extent, most workers earned far below their former wages. A simultaneously enlightening and disturbing look at working-class lives in America's heartland.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from May 1, 2017

    Janesville, WI, is home to politician Paul Ryan--and, until two days before Christmas in 2008, the longest-operating GM plant in the world. This intense, intimate, compelling narrative closely considers the aftermath of the plant closure, its long-term impacts, and how it bifurcated a traditionally unified and optimistic community of 63,000 people. For this debut, Washington Post writer and Pulitzer Prize honoree Goldstein immersed herself in Janesville life and culture for years, following the fortunes of out-of-work GM union employees and their families, laid-off workers from other factories that supported GM's production, and community catalysts. Their post-GM paths are as typical as they are heartrending: daylong commutes to spend the workweek far from family; transitioning from being givers to recipients of charity; stubbornly hopeful boosterism with few tangible results; and a widening gap between the city's elite class of bankers and politicians and the frustrated and increasingly desperate workers. The author incorporates original research that indicates job retraining is actually ineffective. VERDICT Goldstein's exhaustive, evenhanded study of the plight of America's working class through the lens of one emblematic community is deeply humane and deeply disturbing, timely and essential.--Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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