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VIRTUAL BOOK TALK: American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears
Farah Stockman in conversation with Linda Henry
Shannon, Wally, and John built their lives around their place of work. Shannon, a white single mother, became the first woman to run the dangerous furnaces at the Rexnord manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was proud of producing one of the world’s top brands of steel bearings. Wally, a black man known for his initiative and kindness, was promoted to chairman of efficiency, one of the most coveted posts on the factory floor, and dreamed of starting his own barbecue business one day. John, a white machine operator, came from a multigenerational union family and clashed with a work environment that was increasingly hostile to organized labor. The Rexnord factory had served as one of the economic engines for the surrounding community. When it closed, hundreds of people lost their jobs. What had life been like for Shannon, Wally, and John, before the plant shut down? And what became of them after the jobs moved to Mexico and Texas?
American Made is the story of a community struggling to reinvent itself. It is also a story about race, class, and American values, and how jobs serve as a bedrock of people’s lives and drive powerful social justice movements. This revealing book shines a light on this political moment, when joblessness and uncertainty about the future of work have made themselves heard at a national level. Most of all, it is a story about people: who we consider to be one of us and how the dignity of work lies at the heart of who we are.
Farah Stockman joined the New York Times editorial board in 2020 after covering politics, social movements, and race for the national desk. She previously spent sixteen years at the Boston Globe, nearly half of that time as the paper’s foreign policy reporter in Washington, D.C. She has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Guantánamo Bay. She also served as a columnist and an editorial board member at the Globe. In 2016, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of columns about the efforts to desegregate Boston’s schools. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but also spends time in Michigan.
Linda Henry is the Managing Director of Boston Globe Media Partners, which includes The Boston Globe, boston.com and STAT news. She is a co-founder and chair of HUBweek, a civic collaboration between the Boston Globe, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and MIT that explores the future being built at the intersection of art, science and technology. She also created the GlobeDocs Documentary Film Festival, now in its fifth year. Linda is a limited partner in Fenway Sports Group, a four-time Emmy-award winning television producer, an urban rooftop farmer, and a Guinness World Record holder.
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