Punching Out by Paul Clemens
One Year in a Closing Auto Plant

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The outcome of the story is pretty clear all along, so there's no real drama here - and he doesn't try to create any. Still, there are little adventures in the daily work.
-San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis

An elegy—angry, funny, and powerfully detailed—about the slow death of a Detroit auto plant and an American way of life.

How does a country dismantle a century’s worth of its industrial heritage? To answer that question, Paul Clemens investigates the 2006 closing of one of America’s most potent symbols: a Detroit auto plant. Prior to its closing, the Budd Company stamping plant on Detroit’s East Side, built in 1919, was one of the oldest active auto plants in America’s foremost industrial city—one whose history includes the nation’s proudest moments and those of its working class. Its closing also reflects the character of the country in a new era—the sad, brutal process of picking it apart and sending it, piece by piece, to the countries that now have use for its machines.

Punching Out is an up-close report, at once tender and angry, from the meanest, sharpest edge of America’s deindustrializa­tion, and a lament for a working-class culture that once defined a prosperous America—and that is now on the verge of eco­nomic extinction.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Paul Clemens

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PAUL CLEMENS was born in 1973 and raised on Detroit's East Side. His work has appeared in the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine. His book Made in Detroit (Doubleday, 2005) was a 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship.
 
Published January 18, 2011 by Anchor. 290 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Punching Out
All: 4 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by DWIGHT GARNER on Jan 18 2011

A reader who comes to “Punching Out” cold, without reading Mr. Clemens’s first book, will wonder why this first-person narrative is so remote, why there is so little about the author or his parents, who both worked in auto or tire plants.

Read Full Review of Punching Out: One Year in a C... | See more reviews from NY Times

The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Peter Whoriskey on Jan 28 2011

But the ultimate absence, at least for this reader, is what the Budd plant was like in its heyday and what has happened to those who once populated the vast complex.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Brian Ladd on Jan 16 2011

The outcome of the story is pretty clear all along, so there's no real drama here - and he doesn't try to create any. Still, there are little adventures in the daily work.

Read Full Review of Punching Out: One Year in a C...

Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Weinberg on Jan 28 2011

Punching Out is an excellent example of how time equals truth in journalism.

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