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Janesville: An American Story

Cover: 'Janesville: An American Story'

Staff Review: "Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein


Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families, educators, and business leaders. It depicts the various efforts by the community to absorb the shock of losing the largest employer in the area (and a provider of well-compensated, blue collar jobs) and the strain it placed on families and the institutions designed to serve those affected. The book takes you beyond the headlines to the personal stories of families adjusting to life as recipients rather than providers of charity, workers training for new career paths, and social workers and teachers working to serve their students, many of whom are unaccustomed to financial distress. There are difficult choices to face as some families choose to stay together despite the toll on an uncertain family budget and others who live apart during the workweek in exchange for a steady GM paycheck in Indiana. I highly recommend this thoughtful book that tackles significant social and economic issues and policies without losing sight of the human cost. I appreciated the care it took with its portrayal of life in Janesville through the eyes of its residents. Recommended for readers interested in this relatively recent event in Wisconsin history and/or the larger economic trends it embodies.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

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