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At the Crossroads: Middle America and the Battle to Save the Car Industry Hardcover – March 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 390 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550229044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550229042
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,924,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is for those interested in a people-focused perspective of Detroit’s collapse. It will complement the deeper look into the turning points in U.S. auto industry history provided by Paul Ingrassia’s Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster."  —Library Journal



"This book is at once an American industrial history, financial assessment, cultural analysis, economic inspection, and global forecast. Evanoff and Aamidor's work deserves praise for its meticulous reporting and thorough research."  —Christian Science Monitor

About the Author

Abe Aamidor is an award-winning journalist and a former reporter for the "St. Louis Globe-Democrat," "Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette," and the "Indianapolis Star" newspapers. He is the author of "Chuck Taylor, All Star" and "Shooting Star: The Rise and Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry" and is a former journalism professor at Southern Illinois University, Georgia Southern University, and Indiana University. He lives in Carmel, Indiana. Ted Evanoff is a newspaper reporter who has received more than two dozen reporting awards for writing about the automobile industry, manufacturing, and economic development. He is a former automotive writer at the "Detroit Free Press" and is currently the economics reporter for the "Indianapolis Star." He lives in Zionsville, Indiana.

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Vasicek on April 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The authors have done an exceptional job in presenting a holistic picture of what happened to the American auto-industry over the decades and its devastating effect in middle America.

Highlighting towns in Indiana (especially Kokomo), with personal input from local mayors (especially Kokomo mayor Greg Goodnight), union leaders, and working people -- and reaching back to the corporate history of GM or Chrysler -- the authors' penetrating analysis is even-handed and balanced. There is no extreme agenda here.

Here is one quotable, "Like the battle between the Left and Right in the culture wars, Middle America was the odd man out in a war between Big Capital and Big Labor."

The authors are particularly realistic and find plenty of blame and miscalculation to go around. At the same time, they are not simplistic and understand the complexities and inter-relatedness of the various decisions and approaches that converged to make this mess.

Very well researched and well written, the authors examine trees but never lose sight of the forests. Great job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James H. Madison on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
At the Crossroads gets to the heart of global change in the American auto industry, not in a distanced or abstract way, but through on-the-ground and close observation of real people struggling to adapt to fundamental changes. Among the heroes of the stories are several auto town mayors who are working with imagination and energy. The intensive research that Aamidor and Evanoff did provides telling details to enrich a very compelling story. Finishing this book, a thoughtful reader will likely slow down before making a flippant remark about places like Kokomo, Indiana, one of the central locations for some of the book's best insights.
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Format: Hardcover
Many analyses of the current state of the U.S. auto industry start with the assumption that one force or another is solely to blame for its decline (i.e., unions, the Japanese, poor quality, over-reliance on pickup trucks, etc.).

This book dispenses with a simplistic analysis and covers a wide spectrum of forces that have come together in the last several decades to bring the industry to where it is today. But it isn't a policy book either, as it looks at the industry through the fates of several Indiana towns such as Kokomo and Anderson, and the way that they have responded to the changes in the industry. This makes it a riveting book with a human dimension that puts a real face on the issues.

A major focus is the bailout of the industry, begun under Bush and continued under Obama, and the authors are not kind to the tactics or the results. Their main contention is that the bailout was short-sighted and done mainly to create firms that are efficient in the eyes of Wall Street, but not necessarily positioned for success in the global market. While GM and Chrysler may have been "saved", the authors contend that the efforts fell short because the feds failed to establish an actual industrial policy to ensure the long-term viability of American manufacturing.

But the book is also not partisan, as it reserves criticism for Reagan's economic policies as well as Obama's as major factors in the decline of the Big Three.

If the book was solely about policy, it would be boring, but it avoids that due to its meandering into union politics, electric car technology, small town life, interviews with mayors and autoworkers, the role of parts suppliers, and Wall Street.

Overall, a great way to understand how the Big Three got where they are, with policy prescriptions to get them going again.
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More About the Author

Abraham S. "Abe" Aamidor is former daily newspaper reporter, including at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and The Indianapolis Star. He's the author of several books, including "Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man Behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History" (Indiana University Press, 2006), "Shooting Star: The Rise and Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry" (ECW Press, 2009) and co-author with Ted Evanoff of "Crash Course: Middle America's Battle to Save the Car Industry" (ECW Press, February 2010). Aamidor suggests writing about what you really believe in, or (to use an overused term) what you're most passionate about. That's part of being a successful writer. Another key to success is identifying topics that have not been studied to death yet, and which you're qualified to write about. You have to honest with yourself about that last point. Some of Aamidor's books are published under his full first name Abraham, while others are published under his nickname, Abe. There is no explanation for that! He's a University of Chicago graduate (AB, Philosophy, 1969) and was born in Memphis, but grew up in Chicago from age 7.

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At the Crossroads: Middle America and the Battle to Save the Car Industry
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