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Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America's New Rootless Professional Class Hardcover – July 7, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Kilborn expands on his 2005 New York Times profile of the relos, rootless, upper-middle-class, mid-level executives, an affluent, hard-striving class who follow the money as they migrate through the suburbs of Atlanta and Dallas and the expatriate villages of Beijing and Bombay. Kilborn explores relovilles like West Plano and Flower Mound, Tex., examining their curious, portable and insular culture, surveying the ad hoc relo economy that aids the perpetually transient relos. A skillful storyteller, Kilborn captures the costs and loneliness of the relo lifestyle without judging his subjects' choices. Kilborn began research for this book in 2005, when many large corporations responsible for relocating the relos were in such different economic circumstances; as a result, his story feels unfinished. He notes that the national free fall in housing prices has made relos less mobile and that some upper management positions have been eliminated, but fails to mention what kind of effect the economic downturn has had on his subjects' tendency toward conspicuous consumption and what will happen to the ghost towns and ghost strip malls they leave behind as they begin to curb their spending. Photos. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Peter T. Kilborn’s Next Stop Reloville documents an important piece of social history.... A fair and well-written chronicle.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating…. Kilborn shows how… for these modern-day nomads, their lifestyle takes an extraordinary emotional toll.”—The Washington Post
“An extraordinary account of people who can't stay put, who sacrifice community and friendship and stability and roots for the next promotion, the next raise, the next move, which they believe takes them one step closer to the top.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Meticulously attributed and balanced observations…. [Kilborn’s] look into a little noted and consequential trend in American life is revealing.”—The Boston Globe
“A thoughtful exploration of an important phenomenon.”—Washington Monthly
“Kilborn is a good storyteller, and these accounts... will be heartachingly familiar to any Midwesterner.”—Lincoln Journal Star
“A skillful storyteller, Kilborn captures the costs and loneliness of the Relo lifestyle.”—Publishers Weekly
“A solid update on the American rat race… [Kilborn] clearly evokes the rootlessness of [Relo] lives, with… everyone anxious about when the next transfer will come.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Next Stop, Reloville combines first-rate storytelling and sharp analysis… A must-read.”—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation
“A fascinating account of a new type of transient worker in America, affluent in their material lives but impoverished in their community ties.”—Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, A History
“In this sympathetic and arresting portrait… Kilborn takes the Willy Lomans of the present age and weeps for them.”—Rev. Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; First Edition edition (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805083081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805083088
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,087,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Kilborn worked for The New York Times for 30 years as a national correspondent, foreign correspondent and editor based in New York, London, and Washington, D.C. with shorter stints in Miami, Rio, Riyadh. With Business Week before the Times, he was a correspondent in Paris and Los Angeles and an editor in New York. He grew up in Providence, R.I., graduated from Trinity College in Hartford and the Columbia School of Journalism and was a Professional Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Among his major projects for the Times was a year of reporting on class in America that became part of an award-winning book for the Times, "Class Matters." He left the the paper to tackle an unexpected dimension of class--corporate breadwinners and families who, like Kilborn years before, shuttled from city to city, country to country as they advanced in their jobs in the fast-growing global economy. They called themselves "Relos," for relocatees. Their stories of achievement, rootlessness and loneliness became the gist of his book, "Next Stop, Reloville: Life inside America's New Rootless Professional Class." He and his wife, parents of two grown children, live outside Washington.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book, I knew immediately I had to pick this up. Let me tell you upfront that I am not a "Relo" myself, I've lived in Cincinnati now for 22+ years (although I did move to the US from Belgium), but I have certainly met a bunch of people that may be or really are a "Relo".

"Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America's New Rootless Professional Class" (255 pages) brings fascinating insights on the economic and social consequences of those professionals that move around a lot in building their careers. Observes the author (a long-time but now former NY Time reporter): "By buying new houses similar to those they leave, Relos concoct illusions of stability that allay the traumas of moving." Relo has become a huge business, in partcular for the real estate industry (turning over houses among Relos), the headhunters, the companies that move the Relos, the consultants/relocation management firms advising on how to adjust to new environments (in particular when the Relo moves internationally), etc. But as the author makes clear in painstakingly detail in the book, the spouse and kids of the Relos are the ones that suffer the most. "A dearth of intimate friendships with other women might be the toughest consequence of frequent moves. Every Relo wife I spoke to brought it up. Through schools, clubs, playing fields and kids, the wives makes some friends. But they don't make best friends." The author spices the book with countless interviews with real-life Relos, some of which thrive, some of which don't, but it never fails to fascinate to hear their personal stories.

This book is not particularly kind to the prime examples of Relo communities such as Alpharetta, GA and Flower Mound, TX, both of which get a lot of scrutiny in this book. That said, as with all these studies, I am sure that a lot of Relo families are doing quite well, but at the same time, this book exposes some serious issues about the Relo culture. In all, this book is highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MindTx on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was excited to get this book after reading a favorable review in 'The Week' magazine. As the spouse of a Relo, I was eager to read about others' experiences and whether I can learn something to help my and my own families relocations. Firstly, this book is very well written and very well researched. My cheif complaint is that the actual content of the book, in my opinion, was off focus. Let me explain. A chapter will introduce a family and describe a plethora of facts about what they look like, what the houses look like, the husbands occupation, where they lived, the history of the husbands career and how much money he made, what he expects to make if he relocates etc etc etc. On this topic, for me, the book went into exhaustive detail and on a positive note, it reads extremely well researched. But chapter after chapter, these descriptions continue and I was left wishing there was more on how the family 'felt' and 'dealt' with these drastic transformations. The ninth of twelves chapters does begin to address these things, but again it is from a very statistical perspective, e.g. "[children] who moved 3 or more times were 2.3 times more likely to have behavioral problems...1.7 times more likely to repeat a grade". Many chapters devote several continguous paragraphs describing the landscape of a Relo's childhood town. This makes it personable and readable, but I was really looking for what the book title promised - 'life INSIDE America's new rootless class'. Another telling chapter for me was the sixth which dealt with the companies assisting in relocation. The book gives the impression they work miracles which is far from the truth in my experience.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Crockett on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Peter Kilborn's years as a reporter and correspondent for the New York Times clearly served him well... he has the ability to take a large, abstract topic and find the interesting human stories that bring it to life.

I was a long-time resident of what Kilborn calls a "Reloville", and I would say that his nuanced descriptions of my former home are right on the money. It's clear that an impressive amount of research went into the book, and an impressive amount of insight as well.

Kilborn's thesis is that the needs and attitudes of the "Relo class" have shaped everything from the designs of our houses and suburbs to the politics of local government. That thesis is well argued in the book, but let me put it aside for the moment. To me, the stories of the families Kilborn followed make a fascinating snapshot of life in America today, and not just for the Relo class. Today the prototypical striver for the American Dream is not a farmer looking for land to homestead, but an inventory control manager, a sales manager, a shipping company executive, or anyone trying to climb the ladder of responsibility, recognition, and money. The farmer faced drought, storms, locusts, and other forces he could not predict nor control. Today the unforeseen shocks come from corporate mergers or economic storms, but the dislocating effects are similar. Kilborn's stories of people and families responding to today's forces make for thought-provoking reading. It's hard to imagine the reader who doesn't feel a connection to at least one of the stories.

Back to the core thesis. Kilborn describes, for example, the ill-fated attempt to build a performance arts center in one Reloville.
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