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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award!

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.

©2017 Amy Goldstein (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A Human Portrayal of the Recession

I thought Amy Goldstein did a fantastic job of showing the human side of political policy and corporate decisions. The stories she told were emotional and often very moving.

Joy Osmanski did a great job narrating.

While I may disagree on a political level with the conclusions reached in this book, I am happy that I listened to it.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Depressing & Disappointing

The Janesville GM legacy continues with a culture of entitlement & victimization - shallow read.

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Such a great read!

As I read the stories which were woven together to create a picture of the town, I couldn’t help but think about the impact the “Great Recession” had on all of us, beneath the surface. The trickle-down effects of a plant closing are ripples that reach out for decades. It put my own town of Lebanon PA in a new frame for me, having suffered the closing of the Bethlehem Steel plant in the mid-1980’s.

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  • mats
  • Strangnas, Sweden
  • 01-07-18

gripping

independent of your political views an important message and story. I am market libertarian so symphatize w Paul Ryan but that does not make me feel less concerned with the hardships till. Listen!

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Could not wait for this to end...

Was hopeful that I would get an insight to blue collar middle Americana. Instead heard a story that drones on way too long about a town that fell on hard times with the Great Recession. Sad but predictable and feels like it’s looking for a scapegoat.

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Impressive and accessible tale of two Janesville's

As a resident of Janesville, a social worker, and board member of 2 organizations mentioned in the book, I found this book engaging, accessible, and based in the reality of circumstances in Janesville. I appreciate that this author told this story and would recommend it for anyone trying to understand some of the angst in white, workingclass America. The book alao discusses practical policy solutions when we make smart choices about the structural causes of poverty.

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Everyone should read this book no matter your political persuasion.

Moving vignettes, what happens when a factory goes belly up and promises aren't at all enough.

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A different perspective

I was draw to this book by its FT Award. Living in New England and the world described in this book has brought me a very different perspective. Great book.

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Good book but no key idea

It’s a nice book, well written with deep prior research on the peoples stories but I do not see key ideas or what author wanted to say with it. My inference from the book is that whatever you do or how hard you work you might be in deep troubles. It sounds like an advice not to do much and just accept your faith.

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  • W. Wade
  • Milwaukee, WI United States
  • 07-31-17

The gravy train

As a person who served the automotive industry it was a pretty sad spectacle to watch. It was as if the entire industry was focused on their retirement and benefits. No one ever believed that the gravy train would ever run out of gravy, until it did. The author brought the story full circle answering the questions that I had. This book is an absolute winner.

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  • Flink
  • 11-11-17

Interesting and humanizing

Gives names and faces to the residents of towns where major employers stop operations. Very interesting. Wish we could have gotten a better understanding of rescue relations between Janesville and the other town that made up the Rock 5.0. But, that's a small gripe.