Janesville by Amy Goldstein
An American Story

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The stars of the book are the less famous folks. When authors try to juggle so many major characters in one book, the narrative drive often suffers, and the characters never come to life. Goldstein avoids those pitfalls, and the mostly chronological saga never loses its zip.
-Star Tribune

Synopsis

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 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.

For this is not just a Janesville story or a Midwestern story. It’s an American story.
 

About Amy Goldstein

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Published April 18, 2017 by Simon & Schuster. 368 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Janesville
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 07 2017

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...A simultaneously enlightening and disturbing look at working-class lives in America’s heartland.

Read Full Review of Janesville: An American Story | See more reviews from Kirkus

Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg on Apr 14 2017

The stars of the book are the less famous folks. When authors try to juggle so many major characters in one book, the narrative drive often suffers, and the characters never come to life. Goldstein avoids those pitfalls, and the mostly chronological saga never loses its zip.

Read Full Review of Janesville: An American Story | See more reviews from Star Tribune

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Apr 19 2017

But these are minor objections, ultimately. “Janesville” is eye-opening, important, a diligent work of reportage.

Read Full Review of Janesville: An American Story | See more reviews from NY Times

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Apr 25 2017

The characters are especially memorable. This may be the first time since I began this job that I’ve wanted to send notes of admiration to three people in a work of nonfiction.

Read Full Review of Janesville: An American Story | See more reviews from National Post arts

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