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American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  85 reviews
What happens when Americans lose their jobs? In this illuminating story of ruin and reinvention, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Farah Stockman gives an up-close look at the profound role work plays in our sense of identity and belonging, as she follows three workers whose lives unravel when the factory they have dedicated so much to closes down.

Shannon, Wally, and John
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published October 12th 2021 by Random House
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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“American Made What Happens to People When Work Disappears” is, at its best, a story about factories closing in the Midwest and work disappearing to Mexico and China. It is the story about what happens to the proud people who work the heavy machines and are forced to train their foreign replacements as the factories in their hometown close and work disappears like water circling and then washing down the drain. Indianapolis, where the story takes place, was a center of manufacturing where people ...more
Oct 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book’s concept is not necessarily new: well-educated liberal from northeast goes to rust belt to try and understand why people there live and vote the way they do. However, there’s more to this book than meets the eye, and I think Stockman did an excellent job telling these three characters’ stories.

First, I should say that I loved the format. It reminded me of “the warmth of other suns” in that, rather than just stating historical facts, it focused on the stories of three very different,
Sep 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-politics
Well, I have to hand it to Farah Stockman: she really succeeded. It's like she got up one day and said, “Hey, I think I will attempt to explain my nation to itself by devoting years of my life to writing a non-fiction book as a labor of love. I'll try to cross the American class divide and challenge all my preconceptions. I'll take time off my perfectly comfortable and prestigious job in the big city, leave my family and friends, spend hours in airports commuting half-way across the country to i ...more
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Strong Case Studies Marred By Author's Biases. Overall, this is a strong case study following three people the author somewhat randomly stumbled into when tasked with reporting on the closure of a particular factory and its implications on the 2016 and 2020 elections. The author openly admits in the very first chapter that she is a fairly typical New England Liberal Elite, and that flavors much of her commentary and several of her observations - but also provides for at least a few hints of pote ...more
Penny Adrian
The ending of her book undermined its value for me.
She profiles three people, and because the one black man she profiles dies, she erases poverty as the primary axis of their oppression (even though the book is about the desperation created by job loss) again choosing to divide the poor by race so that they don't come together as a class and undermine the economic privilege of people like herself.
Since "black" americans are disproportionately poor, her "woke" editorializing disproportionately ha
Oct 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
5 stars
American Made
What Happens to People When Work Disappears
By Farah Stockman
I had to sit and ponder on this book for a day or so just to process the realities of what I just finished reading. I am still not sure I can do American Made justice. Farah Stockman has written an inspiring, infuriating, and educational look at the mess left behind when a plant closes; as well as the limited options blue-collar workers have in the wake of losing their jobs.
Wally, Shannon and John desperately search
Sep 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By Farah Stockman
Random House, 432 pages.

The subtitle of "American Made," Farah Stockman’s look at blue-collar work, is "What Happens to People When Work Disappears." Labor historians speak of “deindustrialization” to describe exporting factory work out of the United States. Alas, it’s an antiquated label given that far more than factory labor is outsourced.

Capital flight is a more accurate term. It has long been linked to negative social indicators: drug and alcohol abu
Carianne Carleo-Evangelist
Thank you, NetGalley, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review,
I was very surprised at how much I liked this book, Stockman's attempt to understand the people behind the closing of the Rexnord/former LinkBelt factory outside Indy, one of the two (the other was Carrier) that drew president-elect Trump's ire. This was also a really solid, in -depth look at the current & diminishing role of the union, something I found interesting against the current IATSE negotiations, although whi
Ken Heard
Jan 24, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using three people to show how people deal with the loss of jobs seems pretty vague. That old stuff we learned in statistics classes : N = Sample Size comes to play. How can you generalize a nation based upon only three people who lose their jobs when an Indiana factory closes?

However, Farah Stockman does a nice job with that. She writes well enough to keep the reader going, showing a lot of the three peoples' home lives, they way of their living, their families and their hopes. John, one of the
Nov 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an outstanding book that I really encourage everyone to read. It is riveting to follow the lives of three factory workers who really enjoy and work hard at their jobs, making good wages with excellent benefits and what happens to them when that factory moves to Mexico.
The misguided and little understood ramifications of NAFTA and other trade deals that were supposed to help the average American worker who doesn't have a college education, instead tore their lives to shreds...and sti
Linda Robinson
Oct 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Expertly written, balanced, insightful look at a plant closing in the industrial midwest in the timeline of NAFTA, China trade deals and that goon who stole the White House. Stockman spins a lot of delicate plates on skinny sticks and keeps the storytelling aloft. I grew up in Detroit, had plenty of family who made a living working the line, working in tool and die shops, and whose children then worked for automotive/industrial wearing skirts and suits. Boomers were predicted to be the last gene ...more
Dorothy Greco
This is a phenomenal book. Stockman is an excellent journalist who skillfully weaves together the stories of three workers at an Indiana steel plant that fires everyone and moves the work to Mexico. The loss of income and meaning felt by these blue collar workers helps to explain why so many in the heartland voted for Trump and why they feel so utterly alienated from American politics. Reading American Made will give you a window into how globalization affects middle and lower income Americans a ...more
3.5 Stars. This book was good, but also totally middle of the road. It took me 4 days to read this, although it should really have taken me only 2. Although there were some interesting parts, there really was little or nothing that called me to pick up the audio, once I put it down, which is why it took me 4 days to complete. The author narrates the book and does a good job: I have found that when the author narrates their own work, it often is either done really well or really bad. In this case ...more
Kristi Mcduffie
Nov 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best nonfiction book I've read this year. Helps provide perspective on the 2016 election and class in America, among other things. ...more
Nov 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this very well written, insightful, and a compelling read. I would highly recommend this- I listened to this as an audiobook and did not think the material suffered for it in any way.
Katie Wood
Nov 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this book, especially the way the author focused in on the lives of three workers who had worked at the plant that closed. I was surprised when I read the New York Times review of this book, after I had completed reading it, that the critic took issue with Ms. Stockman for doing a deep dive into the family histories of these three workers. I disagree with that reviewer, because the portraits painted of these three people, and their friends and families, got me very invested i ...more
Jen Juenke
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. The author weaves three people's stories about factory work in Indiana to her personal experience, to what is happening nationally and globably.
The author wove this story with seamless effort.
I enjoyed learning about Shannon, Wally, and John. I really liked learning about their likes, their dreams, their hopes and most importantly their struggles as they try to navigate where they fit into the post Industrial world.
I finally learned just how the NAFTA agreement affect
Bonnye Reed
Aug 12, 2021 is currently reading it

Could not read on Netgalley Shelf
pub date October 12, 2021
Random House
Oct 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I did not know what to expect from this but it turned out to be fairly good.

This is clearly a new entry to popular/trade accounts of the decline of traditional industrial jobs in the US and the precariousness of blue collar workers. This has been going on of course since the 1980s and is the stuff of Springsteen and Mellancamp songs. This work has produced a huge popular literature in light of the 2008 financial crisis and more recently the 2016 US elections and the rise of the Trump Administrat
Chris Jaffe
This is a very good book about life in modern America. Stockman focuses on one factory closing - a factory that made the news when then-Pres.-elect Trump tweeted about it, and gave himself credit for stopping the factory's closing. (The factory closed anyway a few years later). Stockman first went there to report on the closing, but kept coming back to see what life was like for factory workers on the brink of losing their jobs. To this end, she found three factory workers to focus on - Wally, a ...more
Mary Ann
Nov 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of what happens when a factory closes and the workers are left unemployed and unmoored is brilliantly told in this book. I strongly recommend it. The author spent significant time in Indianapolis, home of the Rexnord factory that made ball bearings, learning from the workers affected by the company’s decision to move the operations to Mexico in 2016. The story is told through the perspectives of three workers, who are not merely placeholders for their gender and race, but revealed with ...more
Kate Schwarz
This was a tremendous book that really caused me to pause and look again at things I thought I had a loose understanding of (hardly an expert) in the past several decades in America.

I've got a Masters in Economics, and was familiar with the argument for free trade and specialization--if countries specialized in what they are best at, and then lower the barriers for trade, everyone is better off. This was (and still is) the argument for NAFTA in the 1990s. And yet, only a portion of society was
Shaun Shepard
Jan 23, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a budding qualitative researcher myself, I appreciated this in-depth look into the lived experiences of three individuals who lost their jobs at an Indiana factory in the last decade. It provided valuable insight into the difficult situation in which many blue collar workers find themselves—victims to globalization, unable to find the fulfilling and well-paid work they once enjoyed, and unsure of their place in the new world. It’s an American story that doesn’t get enough attention, and it sh ...more
Joanne Duhl
Jan 27, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot from this book and it made me think. The author made a strong case for the importance of work - not just for economic reasons, but for providing a sense of purpose.

She also clearly showed the important role factory jobs played. The three people she followed - a white woman, a white man, and a black man - were all making good salaries and once the factory closed their options were very limited. And without their jobs the people portrayed in the book did not have health insurance,
Andrew Pratley
Nov 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It is easy for us who live in the UK or on coasts of the USA to dismiss the people of "flyover country" so many "Moaning Minnie's". Life in Indiana which is a manufacturing state used to be good. It is was also much more secure than it is today. The factories which employed huge numbers & supported many more are now increasingly closing. This book is about one of those factories. Its well paid jobs are going South to Mexico thanks in part to NAFTA & globalization. They are also going South becau ...more
Justin Goldman
Jan 11, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a remarkable work to read as the year gets underway. The book focuses on three employees of a ball bearing manufacturing plant. Rexnord, the Wisconsin-based corporate owner, in 2016 announced the relocation of the Indianapolis area plant to Mexico. The combination of Stockman's in-depth interviews combined with the willingness of three remarkable individuals to open up about their personal stories has produced a tremendous book. Shannon, a white single mother, Wally, a black man the Uni ...more
Nicole Robinson
Dec 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Overall, a really compelling and insightful book. I think Stockman did an excellent job reporting in a sympathetic manner that let the three interviewees speak for themselves.

However, I did have a major issue with her credibility in the chapter about NAFTA: "Every economist I had ever interviewed on the subject of free trade had assured me that it was a boon for the country." Had she sought out any economists with counterpoints for those articles? They existed. I find it scary that a journalist
Sara Broad
Jul 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"American Made" by Farah Stockman follows the story of several people in Indiana as the deal with the blow of pending and eventual unemployment due to factory closings. Stockman spends a lot of time immersed in the lives of the people featured in this book and their families. Stockman uses the stories of people like Wally, Shannon, and John to illustrate the upheaval caused in towns where it is no longer possible to live a comfortable, secure middle class life as factories shutter and other loca ...more
Aug 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
American Made is the story of what happens to employees when the factory they've been working at is closed down and moved out of the country.
Stockman chose three people to follow closely and we get a very good picture of their lives, beliefs, dreams and realities. We also get a very good picture of what the factory means to these workers and the pride they have in their jobs. We can also see the sense of community that is fostered in the factory and the kind of ties that are made amongst worker
Anne Brown
Jan 20, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit I was a bit Leary of Stockman's ability to present a balanced book given her background and seemingly liberal leanings but I was pleasantly surprised with her results. I really enjoyed her format of following Shannon, John and Wally as they navigated their way through the closing of their workplace and trying to find a new direction for their lives. Instead of writing a non-fiction based on just a bunch of facts and figures, she shared insight into the lives, emotions, thoughts and fe ...more
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