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Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory (The Lyndhurst Series on the South) Paperback – August 17, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: The Lyndhurst Series on the South
  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (August 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393319229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393319224
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,029,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Davidson, who wrote 36 Views of Mount Fuji (1993) and coedited The Oxford Book of Women's Writing in the United States (1995), offers thoughtful commentary, including interviews with six individuals, and Bamberger supplies probing photographs; together, they create a telling portrait of the last six months of the White Furniture Company of Mebane, North Carolina. A 111-year-old firm specializing in high-quality reproduction antiques, White was family owned until 1985 and employed more than 200 people. Davidson researched economic factors and the furniture industry and talked with a range of former White employees (a mill worker, shop-floor supervisors, an executive assistant, and the CEO who decided to close the plant). Bamberger spent days at the factory in its final months, capturing on film the commitment and skill of these six and other workers, as well as their reactions to the elimination of jobs many had held for decades. An eloquent essay on the human cost of downsizing and globalization. Mary Carroll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

An unflinchingly fair analysis. Hard-edged and realistic. Closing . . . issues a bold challenge to 'business as usual.' -- New York Times Book Review

Closing is the best kind of documentary --telling a specific story about specific people in a large context that means something. . . . In a better world, Closing would be on the reading lists of every corporate board and business school. -- USA Today

Here is a stupendous book, a complete answer to any who believe that all that counts in a company is its bottom line, and that the only people with a stake in it are its shareholders. -- The Economist

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book does an excellent job of demonstrating the effects of a factory closing in a small southern town. As a former resident of the town (childhood home) and a former worker in the machine room and rubbing room of White's Furniture Factory, I was amazed at the depth of analysis and truthfulness in this book. This book demonstrated how the closing of a factory not only affects the workers, but prior workers, and the entire population of the town. I was surprised to see the pictures that were included that told a story all to themselves. This book is highly recommended for college professors wishing to pursue the effects of a factory closing and other downsizing efforts on a small town's population. A great story line supplemented by outstanding pictures as the authors take the reader through the last years of a 100+ year factory that the entire town centered their lives around. Highly recommended for those interested in the effects of a closing on the local population.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
a reasonably balanced view of a factory closing that doesn't make the owner out to be a devil (although some former workers clearly feel that way). Shows the human side of what happens when decisions are made based on the aseptic "bottom line". If anything, the book is not hard enough on the original family, the 1st generation that admirably built the company and the second generation that let it deteriorate (the book details how the 2 family members at the top didn't even talk to one another and used separate entrances to the building! Is it any wonder the financials deteriorated and they had to sell?)
The only thing missing is an interview with the capitalist that closed the plant. If they tried and he refused the book ought to say so, otherwise it seems that at least a few pages could have been devoted to his side of the story.
All in all, though, a great book to read, as a counterbalance for all of us that invest thru our 401Ks and retirement accounts expecting great returns and divorced from how those returns are obtained (and at what cost to some people).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book, and a traveling exhibit due at Yale this fall and The Smithsonian in early next year, captures the feelings and human aspect of what happens when a family owned furniture factory is closed due to a hostile takeover. The pictures and accompaning text document from an historical and extremely personal perspective the lives of workers in a small town in North Carolina, dependant on each other and the factory, and the devastation that occurs when big city, outside forces make an impersonal decision regarding people 1000 miles away.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is haunting for anyone who has worked in the wooden furniture industry, or who lives in a former factory or mill town. It is a brilliant companion to Beth Macy's 2014 release Factory Man: How one furniture manufacturer battled offshoring, stayed local - and helped save an American town.

Macy's book focuses on John Bassett III and his success at keeping Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company viable. Bamberger and Davidson relate a sadder tale, which is subtitled "the life and death of an American factory." Closing is the story of White Furniture, but it can be read as a tale about any small industry in a rural southern town. Read it to see what those giant, now crumbling, brick buildings once held - economic prosperity. See the faces and read the stories of the employees who lost their livelihoods.

When you finish Closing, open Factory Man.
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