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Janesville: An American Story
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Janesville: An American Story


“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.” —The New York Times

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.

Title:Janesville: An American Story
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:368 pages
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    Janesville: An American Story Reviews

  • Jen Naughton
    Feb 28, 2017

    Amy Goldstein is a Washington Press reporter, and this reads like an extremely long personal interest piece. It follows a handful of Janesville residents from roughly 2007-2016 at a time when many of ...

  • The Pfaeffle Journal
    May 06, 2017

    This is a great book, very well done. I highly recommend it....

  • Robert
    May 21, 2017

    Amy Goldstein's Janesville, An American Story reports on the anguish of modest American dreams gasping their last in the hometown of the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Janesville, Wisconsin, once wa...

  • Michael Gizzi
    May 03, 2017

    Last week I learned about a new book by Washington Post journalist Amy Goldstein called Janesville: An American Story, an ethnographic story of the fallout of the closing of what had been the longest ...

  • Chris Jaffe
    Jun 03, 2017

    This is a really good look at life in a small industrial town that has lost its industry. Janesville was home to the longest continuously used GM plant - until that plant closed down in 2008. Goldstei...

  • Alexander
    May 29, 2017

    Janesville: An American Story reminds me of George Packer’s book, The Unwinding, about the Great Recession. Both books describe the economic, social, physical and psychic cost of broken dreams and d...

  • Steve Peifer
    May 19, 2017

    What happens when the largest employer in town closes down? This is an extraordinary look at the human cost involved when people lose their livelihood. It is both heartbreaking and inspiring.The autho...

  • Rachel Blakeman
    Jun 21, 2017

    This is a solid 4-star book. It was what I was hoping "Glass House" was going to be but wasn't. Despite what my profile says, I live in Fort Wayne so I felt a geographic connection to the storyline fo...

  • Daniel
    Jun 14, 2017

    Sometimes, at the library, I’ll pick up a book at random based solely on the cover or the title and start reading it, ignoring the dust jacket and blurbs on the back. That’s what I did with Janesv...

  • Kristen Frissora
    Apr 30, 2017

    Highly recommended new release. The story of what happened in Janesville, WI in the aftermath of the GM plant closure in 2008. Poignant depiction of the devastating impact the layoffs had on the town'...