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The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economyby Hardy Green
Synopses & 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 for over a decade, offers a compelling analysis of the emergence of these communities and their role in shaping the American economy, beginning in the country’s earliest years.
From the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, to the R&D labs of Corning, New York; from the coal mines of Ludlow, Colorado, to corporate campuses of today’s major tech companies: America has been uniquely open to the development of the single-company community. But rather than adhering to a uniform blueprint, American company towns represent two very different strands of capitalism. One is socially benign—a paternalistic, utopian ideal that fosters the development of schools, hospitals, parks, and desirable housing for its workers. The other, “Exploitationville,” focuses only on profits, at the expense of employees’ well-being.
Adeptly distinguishing between these two models, Green offers rich stories about town-builders and workers. He vividly describes the origins of America’s company towns, the living and working conditions that characterize them, and the violent, sometimes fatal labor confrontations that have punctuated their existence. And he chronicles the surprising transformation underway in many such communities today.
Book News Annotation:
This is a historical survey of the American experience with the company town. Green (a former editor at BusinessWeek) offers accounts of the origins and development of different company towns, distinguishing between "Exploitationvilles" in which companies sought to extract as much profit as possible from their workers, at one end of the spectrum, and more benign, even utopian, experiments that provided paternalistic support for workers' needs at the other. He describes the impact of these company towns on the nature of American capitalism, the range of living and working conditions experienced by workers in the towns, the labor disputes that frequently arose, and modern incarnations of the company town in the era of the information revolution. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The fascinating story of the development of American capitalism—for better and worse—through the history of the company town
At once a riveting history, a stark social commentary, and an insightful tale of how business works (and how it should work), "The Company Town" is the story of the shaping of modern American capitalism. b&w photos.
A collection of important, well-told stories about the contradictions, inequities and possibilities of American capitalism.”—New York Times
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 for worse, exercises a grip over the population. In The Company Town, Hardy Green, who has covered American business for over a decade, describes the emergence of these communities and their role in shaping the American economy since the countrys earliest years. But rather than adhering to a uniform blueprint, American company towns have come to represent two very different strands of capitalism: one humanistic, the other exploitative. Through the framework of this dichotomy, Green provides a compelling analysis of the effect of the company town on the development of American capitalism, and tells the sweeping tale of how the American economy has grown and changed over the years.
About the Author
Hardy Green is a former Associate Editor at BusinessWeek, where he was responsible for the magazine’s book review coverage. He has written for Reuters.com, Fortune.com, and AOL’s Daily Finance, and penned features on book publishing, travel, investing, business history, technology, and careers. Green has taught history at Stony Brook University, from which he holds a Ph.D. in U.S. History. He lives in New York City.
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