Synopses & Reviews
An elegy—angry, funny, and powerfully detailed—about the slow death of a Detroit auto plant and an American way of life.
How does a country dismantle a century’s worth of its industrial heritage? To answer that question, Paul Clemens investigates the 2006 closing of one of America’s most potent symbols: a Detroit auto plant. Prior to its closing, the Budd Company stamping plant on Detroit’s East Side, built in 1919, was one of the oldest active auto plants in America’s foremost industrial city—one whose history includes the nation’s proudest moments and those of its working class. Its closing also reflects the character of the country in a new era—the sad, brutal process of picking it apart and sending it, piece by piece, to the countries that now have use for its machines.
Punching Out is an up-close report, at once tender and angry, from the meanest, sharpest edge of America’s deindustrialization, and a lament for a working-class culture that once defined a prosperous America—and that is now on the verge of economic extinction.
"Detroit native Clemens (Made in Detroit) puts an unusual spin on his study of the decline of American manufacturing in this firsthand account of what happens after a plant closes its doors. In 2006, after nearly a century in business, the Budd Co. stamping plant in Detroit--in its heyday, responsible for stamping body parts for every major American car manufacturer--was shut down. All that's left is to dismantle the million-pound presses and ship them to buyers in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere--a feat of labor every bit as demanding as working the lines in their productive years. The author spent a year alongside the workers responsible for disassembling the plant, through a sweltering summer and frigid Detroit winter. Clemens revels in the conversation, mannerisms, and expertise of the 'ordinary' working men; he locates their contradictions and the dignity with which they apply themselves in dismantling America's industrial legacy--a job they attack with the diligence and workman's pride their fathers and grandfathers once brought to operating those same machines. Even as Clemens eschews didacticism and romanticism, he composes a stark, moving elegy to a disappearing breed of American worker. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Clemens investigates the 2006 closing of one of America's most potent symbols: a Detroit auto plant. "Punching Out" is an up-close report from the meanest, sharpest edge of America's deindustrialization, and a lament for a working-class culture that once defined a prosperous America.
About the Author
PAUL CLEMENS was born in 1973 and raised on Detroit’s East Side. His work has appeared in the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine. His book Made in Detroit (Doubleday, 2005) was a 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship.