American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears

Random. Oct. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781984801159. $28. SOC SCI
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Stockman follows three employees of a closing factory in Indianapolis, expanding on her reporting for the New York Times in 2017. The Rexnord factory, which manufactures ball bearings, and its 300 remaining employees were unexpectedly thrust into the national spotlight when then-president Donald Trump tweeted a promise to stop jobs like Rexnord’s from moving to Mexico. Stockman spent months in and around Indianapolis with the people at the center of this now-national drama. This book builds on Stockman’s riveting New York Times reporting with added detail on Rexnord, the factors that contributed to the company’s decline, and the lives of factory employees Shannon, Wally, and John, whose personal and professional struggles she carefully layers. Readers follow Shannon, Wally, and John from the ascension of their careers, to the elimination of their jobs, to training their new counterparts in Mexico and Texas while the Indianapolis factory closed around them. This richly detailed account focuses on just one factory in one city, but it still manages to capture the human impacts of outsourcing, automation, and the decline of factory trades.
VERDICT A well-crafted nonpartisan study of the American working class that is a desirable addition to any nonfiction collection and will find a wide audience.
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