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Janesville Audiobook

Janesville: An American Story

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award!

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 listener deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job retrainers to show why it's so hard in the 21st century to re-create a healthy, prosperous working class.

For this is not just a Janesville story or a Midwestern story. It's an American story.

©2017 Amy Goldstein (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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  • Rick Wilson
    18/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Human Portrayal of the Recession"

    I thought Amy Goldstein did a fantastic job of showing the human side of political policy and corporate decisions. The stories she told were emotional and often very moving.

    Joy Osmanski did a great job narrating.

    While I may disagree on a political level with the conclusions reached in this book, I am happy that I listened to it.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • superbobhere
    4/12/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A different perspective "

    I was draw to this book by its FT Award. Living in New England and the world described in this book has brought me a very different perspective. Great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Yaroslav Osadchiy
    28/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book but no key idea"

    It’s a nice book, well written with deep prior research on the peoples stories but I do not see key ideas or what author wanted to say with it. My inference from the book is that whatever you do or how hard you work you might be in deep troubles. It sounds like an advice not to do much and just accept your faith.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • W. Wade
    Milwaukee, WI United States
    31/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The gravy train"

    As a person who served the automotive industry it was a pretty sad spectacle to watch. It was as if the entire industry was focused on their retirement and benefits. No one ever believed that the gravy train would ever run out of gravy, until it did. The author brought the story full circle answering the questions that I had. This book is an absolute winner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    North Potomac, MD, United States
    10/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If Hillary read this book, she'd be President now."
    Would you listen to Janesville again? Why?

    I don't generally listen to books twice, so I would not listen again. I would recommend it.


    Have you listened to any of Joy Osmanski’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    First performance. It was good.


    Any additional comments?

    I think the book should be required reading for politicians to see the actual impacts of the job losses in middle America. Janesville, Paul Ryan's hometown, suffered after the closure of the GM plant in 2008. The author follows the story of several people in town over the course of 8 years, from the laid off to the well off. Not everyone makes it, and all have to adapt. Bottom line is that it is not about jobs but about wages and jobs. Everyone found a new job, but no one was making more money after GM. She did not chronicle anyone that moved from town, which is often necessary for work. Finally, the book would have been really outstanding if the author had managed to have some access to GM and UAW decision making on the inside. She can only see from the outside and so we really don't know the full story of what was behind the GM move to close Janesville but keep other plants.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth B. Brandt
    Moscow, ID, US
    30/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This book will shake your foundations!"

    The book is a powerful commentary on the impact of job dislocation, the difficulties of addressing it and the incredible resiliency of some people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cynthia
    Monrovia, California, United States
    31/05/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "By Holding Constant as Many Variables as You Can"

    If any small city should have been spared the economic disaster that gripped the United States at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, it was Janesville, Wisconsin. Nestled in the very south of Wisconsin, Janesville was a prosperous community, home to a General Motors plant. Coveted United Auto Worker jobs were hard won and kept, supporting generations comfortably. Other iconic companies had factories there, like the iconic Parker Pens. Workers with nimble fingers were hired on high school graduation and never left.

    After 89 years, GM decided to close the aging plant in 2008, during the worst of the Great Recession. Parker was mostly gone at that point, its work outsourced to places and workers who were less expensive. Loyalty and experience: civic pride and talented and driven community members couldn't stop it. Political connections didn't help. Republican Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, is from Janesville. He tried to intervene and couldn't stop the closure. Barrack Obama visited during his run for president, and that didn't help either.

    Amy Goldstein's "Janesville: An American Story" (2017) tells the story of a community that did everything "right" - supported its industry; educated its young; mostly avoided the lethal trap of drugs and alcohol; and worked so hard - but still crashed, and crashed hard. It's easy to make pronouncements about a college degree or vocational training as the cure for all economic ills, but Janesville tried and saddled too many people with staggering student loan debt and jobs that pay little more than minimum wage. Factory workers are commuting from Wisconsin to Indiana for GM jobs, returning to their families on the weekends and holidays. That seems like no way to live, but until recently, I commuted 2 1/2 hours a day. Who am I to say?

    Goldstein has us rooting for Janesville and its citizens, hoping that the town will make it and so will they. It broke my heart to hear about the graduate with an AA in Criminal Justice who made some bad choices and ended up taking her own life. The man who assiduously trained for a new job in electrical distribution only to end up on that far away assembly line in Indiana when he realized there would be no new job for him? I hope he makes it to retirement. Then there are the sisters who went to work in high school to help support their family. Did they finish college? Do they make enough to have their own families and live where they want? I don't know.

    "Janesville" is a real thinker. It's for everyone smug in the knowledge that 'It can't happen here'. It's for wishful thinkers who content themselves saying 'if only they went to school/didn't rely on one company/got government grants/had people that cared'. Janesville had all of the 'if onlies' and barely pulled it out. Well, it seems to have

    The title of the review is a quote from the book.

    [If this review helped please press YES. Thanks!]

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
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  • Flink
    11/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting and humanizing"

    Gives names and faces to the residents of towns where major employers stop operations. Very interesting. Wish we could have gotten a better understanding of rescue relations between Janesville and the other town that made up the Rock 5.0. But, that's a small gripe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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