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The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy
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The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy

3.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  113 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Company town: The very phrase sounds un-American. Yet company towns are the essence of America. Hershey bars, Corning glassware, Kohler bathroom fixtures, Maytag washers, Spam—each is the signature product of a company town in which one business, for better or worse, exercises a grip over the population. In The Company Town, Hardy Green, who has covered American business f ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Basic Books (first published July 28th 2010)
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Susann
Mar 06, 2011 Susann rated it really liked it
Intriguing history of company towns and how they have shaped the U.S. From the Lowell, MA mills to Google's data centers, Green contrasts exploitative communities with paternalistic utopias, offering a lesson in corporate and labor union development along the way. Each chapter contains real-town examples and two of my favorites were (no surprise if you know my WWII interests) Oak Ridge, TN and the Kaiser shipyards.

Nice addition of photos, including a priceless one of Frank Phillips, Phillips Pe
...more
David
Mar 27, 2011 David rated it liked it
Survey of towns in the US created by companies, some utopian, some exploitative, all ultimately negative for the employees. The book talks more about the companies than the towns but ultimately becomes a critique of raw capitalism. In some sense, the entire US today is a company town with the proprietors immensely wealthy and the workers exploited at every turn. A good argument for unions and regulations to rein in the worst of capitalism.
Shannon
Apr 16, 2015 Shannon rated it it was ok
Very dry. somehow manages to seem perfunctory yet also has too many dull details ..
Angel
Oct 31, 2011 Angel rated it liked it
The book is a bit of dry reading at times. However, if you get past that, you get a good history of the various company towns in the U.S. and their history. Some of the major players, names we have often heard of such as Hershey and Corning are present as well as other names that may not be as well known today such as Pullman (the railroad car company) and various coal towns. Well, there were a bit less known to me. I am sure the locals in their respective areas would know. Anyhow, what is fasci ...more
Ja
Jan 19, 2014 Ja rated it liked it
This is a very well-written book. The style of writing flows nicely and is down-right enjoyable. The chapters are nicely structured. The subject matter is presented in a way that is fascinating. Let's not overlook that. This type of material can be easy to make read like a clinical manual but our author avoided these pitfalls. Well worth the time, even if he is a blatant leftist with no tampering of his anti-captilist bent. Nonetheless, dude can flat-out write. Glad I read it.
loafingcactus
Oct 12, 2012 loafingcactus rated it liked it
Parts of this book are absolutely sickening... Things which happened in American that sound like incidents from the Holocaust or Tzarist Russia. Did you know there was an air drop of gas on American mine strikers? I did not. I will certainly be more appreciative on Labor Day of the suffering and progress of the American Worker.

The "town" part was secondary to the tale of the people, though it did give the author something around which to form these stories, though as others have noted there are
...more
Dave
Nov 11, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dave by: Steve Zeider
This was a very enjoyable read. Green provides a good survey of company towns in America. Encompassing the period from the rise of New England textile mills in the 1840's to the high-tech corporate campuses of today, the author explores the rise and fall of these towns, profiling both the company developers and workers. The variety of company towns are grouped into two archetypes: "Utopia" and "Exploitationville", and as such tracks the development of both the labor movement and "corporate welfa ...more
Asails F
Jun 10, 2011 Asails F rated it really liked it
Shelves:
Very few books show the impact of the company towns on the local peasantry. And the behavior and style of management are often very similar. How company towns shaped the individual also had far reaching effects for the world.

Another book that does this is "American Wop."

Additional books about industrial history are badly needed so we will never forget the tribulations faced by our forefathers and so we can learn to prevent history from repeating itself.

What the technological age and the gilded
...more
Bruce
Many of the "Industrial Edens" occurred because business conditions required them. Labor was needed and when trained as skilled labor needed to be kept relatively happy. However, the 'founders' of these towns often tried to control the personal lives of the worker and his family. When times got a little hard the towns had issues and stockholders profits came before workers. Some company towns, especially in the extractive industries, became virtual prisons. In fact, some coal mining companies hi ...more
Kate
Oct 03, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Janelle- thanks!
An interesting read and made me want to take a few road trips- to places like Lowell, Massachusetts; Pullman, Illinois (now part of Chicago); Hershey, Pennsylvania; Kannapolis, North Carolina; Kohler, Wisconsin and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Like most people, I thought of "company towns" as being synonymous with small coal towns in West Virginia, but many more companies/industries in the US created entire cities to house their workforce and build or mine their product. Some were the result of a chair
...more
Matt Miltenberg
Jan 04, 2011 Matt Miltenberg rated it liked it
Interesting no doubt but repetitive. If you are interested in labor movements/history and union formation and the historic good and bad developments therein it's probably worth a read. I was hoping for more on the experience at the individual level in these towns which was hinted at but not truly described, perhaps for the author to be able to maintain a labor nuetraL pov? Either way I did not persist more than 3/4 of the way through because it became chronologically illogical at places and simp ...more
Eric
Apr 12, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
Very informative. It is interesting to see that the cycle of Company Towns is starting again with rumors of Google looking to create a new one in 2017.
Most interesting part is that everyone has the image of a company town as being an evil exploitive place, when in reality some were and others were designed and (initially) run for the benefit of the employees.
Seems the Tennessee Ernie Ford song only describes the first kind.
Kelly Kilcrease
Aug 19, 2013 Kelly Kilcrease rated it liked it
An enjoyable book about the creation of company towns and the strategy (or lack of) the corporation implemented. I would have liked to have seen just a few case studies with more depth here as opposed to the variety with little depth. However, the trend of the company town was clear throughout the book: companies created these towns to exploit the worker. I enjoyed the last chapter and its analogy that the corporate campus is now the company town.
John
Apr 16, 2013 John rated it liked it
A seemingly well- researched book on the dark underbelly of American capitalism. The author's hard-fought credibility wavers at times, however, when his personal opinions enter too strongly into material presented as purely factual. Perhaps he did not trust his readers to come to their own conclusions about the heinous accounts he shares of workers' plights? Also, the book's lapses of language style are jarring and suggest the book was poorly edited.
Tom Blumer
Mar 05, 2011 Tom Blumer rated it liked it
Living in a small town myself, this book had a particular interest for me. Corning is mentioned briefly and positively in the book, but for the most part company towns where unionizationation was a key theme or necessity were highlighted. Places like Pullman, Illinois and Gary, Indiana are two prime examples. As someone who enjoys reading about historical events, I found the book enjoyable.
Evan
Sep 05, 2010 Evan rated it liked it
Pretty fascinating stuff. A history of the single-industry town. Don't read this if you're a fan of Ayn Rand. The author is decidedly pro-union, but I'd say the historical evidence bears out that in many industries, that was a good idea. The prose is tedious at times and the book wanders, but you can leave this one feeling genuinely educated.
Mike Horne
Jan 23, 2011 Mike Horne rated it it was ok
It was OK. But I sure wanted to know more about each company town. I have thought that this would be a great research paper for one of my students. But he just hits them in such a perfunctory manner. This book should be twice as long, and a bit more interesting. What a great topic.
Dale
Jul 27, 2011 Dale rated it it was ok
This could have been a very interesting book. Could have been. Unfortunately, it was dry, repetitive and well, boring. I am unsure why Green would tackle this topic without including some first-hand narrative. Had he done so, it would have been worth another star at least.
Stuart Connelly
Feb 03, 2011 Stuart Connelly rated it liked it
Green delivers what was promised, I suppose. But in my imagination, there was going to be more here. Not really the writer's fault; this company town thing is almost a fetish of mine, so I was bound to be disappointed.

Solid research, though. Not a bad read at all.
Leslie W
Dec 30, 2010 Leslie W rated it it was ok
My father's side of the family lived in and owned a company town. The book is interesting, though a bit on the academic side. I would have liked to know more about the actual residents of the towns vs. the various labor and political disputes.
Mark
Nov 10, 2010 Mark rated it liked it
While filled with some very interesting stories about company towns in the U.S. (and the labor issues that went with them), the book suffers from a lack of narrative. Of course, that's by design, so I feel a little weird being frustrated by that.
Kristen
I couldn't get into this book.
Adam Bricker
Jan 20, 2012 Adam Bricker rated it it was ok
It was an alright book. I guess I was expecting more personal stories instead of facts and overall impressions. I think I got it for $3 when Borders was having their close out sale so I can't really complain.
Chaz Donaldson
Jun 13, 2012 Chaz Donaldson rated it really liked it
Quite good, an very interesting view into the past of the United States during a period when a lot of urban planning and design was in the hands of the people running the biggest company in town.
Amy
Nov 06, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
interesting and educational. I enjoyed learning about how industry affected the lives of everyday Americans and realized how much it still does today.
Beth
Sep 07, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
While the book was interesting, I expected more on the towns and their inhabitants. The book veered too much into labor and unions.
Odoublegood
Jan 17, 2011 Odoublegood rated it liked it
found it to be very informative; was interested to see that in the end notes one source frequently cited was Wikipedia
Eugene
Jan 21, 2012 Eugene rated it liked it
Very informative about "Company Towns". Some good some not so good. The good ones seem to eventually go bad.
Lyn
Jun 21, 2011 Lyn rated it it was amazing
Good book exploring history of company towns.
Michael
Jan 06, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
After moving to Manchester, New Hampshire, and learning about its origins as a company town, I wanted to learn more about the way such areas came into existence and how they developed. Green’s book attempts to offer a history of company towns and a myriad of aspects about them since they began to be constructed. Some of the towns dealt with in the book are: Lowell, Pullman, Gary, and Kannapolis.

In all, my expectations for this work were not completely met. I felt that many of the book’s pages we
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