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.
"We've been hearing a lot since the November election about the press missing The Story of a middle class losing ground, hope, and heart. But it turns out that Amy Goldstein, one of our finest reporters, was on it all along. Her vivid portrait of a quintessential American town in distress affirms Eudora Welty's claim that 'one place understood helps us understand all places better.'"--Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home
"Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville. The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the story--a stark, heart-breaking reminder that political ideologies have real consequences--is told with rare sympathy and insight."--Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of a New Machine
"Brilliant, probing, and disturbing. A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience."--Bob Woodward, The Washington Post
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 auto-workers, 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.
Amy Goldstein has been a staff writer for thirty years at The Washington Post, where much of her work has focused on social policy. Among her awards, she shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She has been a fellow at Harvard University at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Janesville: An American Story is her first book. She lives in Washington, DC.