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Postville: USA: Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America Paperback – September 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I liked the parts that covered the ICE's preparation for the big raid, the activities of local charities as they fed and housed people afterwards, Agriprocessors efforts to keep operating, media coverage of Postville both before and after the raid, and the description of the diversity industry. There were lots of interesting details along the way. For example, many of the illegals arrested were from Guatemala. Guatemalans in Iowa!
I dearly wish there had been an editor. The story spills out in a disorganized way, jumping ahead, jumping around -- so much to say, no time to say it. And unlike that other book (Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America), a good read before you tackle this one, Postville U.S.A. suffers from awkward, clumsy prose, the kind of thing a good editor would polish away.
The other annoyance is the authors tendency to preach. The "[Nine] Lessons Learned Surviving Diversity" chapter is the most outrageous. One gets the feeling they would love to see thousands marching down a street behind a banner that reads "All Hail the Nine Lessons!". The Capitalists among you will smile as you read they'd like the continued presence of cheap foreign labor in America. The fans of Labor, higher minimum wages etc., will be scowling.Read more ›
Living only 15 miles from Postville, and a sociologist/social worker/mediator by training, I was interested in Postville over the years and impressed as I saw the schools and health systems stretch to make thing work. After the raid, I was very concerned about the community of Postville, and the devastation to families and the economy. It was as though a bomb had ripped through the social and economic fabric of the community and very few resources were provided to aid in the clean-up. I knew firsthand that the needs of those affected by the raid were being provided by individuals stepping up and helping out.Read more ›
The subtitle "Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America" promises analysis of a weighty topic. But Postville, Iowa, has too many cultures and too many issues. There's altogether too much to sort out. It doesn't help that the two dominant groups in Postville, the long time residents (Lutherans, other Protestants, some Catholics) and the relative newcomers (Hasidic Jews) are not on good terms. The latter group was unwilling to assimilate, or even accommodate. They did not obey the laws of the dominant culture in small ways, such as getting a building permit to modify a residence, or in large ways, such as hiring only those with the legal right to work.
We read of the hopeful details, such as an Orthodox Jew being elected to the City Council. But we are never offered a broader vision. One suspects both sides are so protected by Political Correctness that the authors felt unable to describe relations between them.
Coverage of the raid is also spotty. Although we do get a fine description of ICE preparing temporary holding facilities in Waterloo, Iowa, we don't get interviews of the ICE officials who decided to conduct the raid. Why after years of open disrespect for the law did the ICE decide to enforce? Was it the alleged child labor? Or the alleged money laundering, allowing illegal employees to be paid in cash by a third party? Was it related in any way to cultural diversity? The raid happened, but we don't learn why.
The authors were on the scene. They do report what they saw. They did not dig. They leave giant holes in the story. They got only halfway to a good book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting book about the development of a diverse community in Iowa. A Hasidic Jew moved his family from Brooklyn, NY, to Postville, Iowa, to open a Kosher meat packing plant. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mary Jane
About exploitation of a small town and illegal aliens by Kosher Meat Industry.Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
Postville: USA. Unbelievable but true. You'll wonder if this could really happen here in the United States of America. Does anyone really know? Read it!Published on December 10, 2012 by Thomas H. Idema
This book should be of interest to anyone concerned by the crisis in the rural heartland. Unlike much academic prose this book is very accessible to the general reader. Read morePublished on April 22, 2012 by Midwest Mystery Fan
There never was "diversity" in Postville. The Hasidic Jews came there for their business, not to intermingle with non-Hasids. Read morePublished on July 16, 2011 by Abe Krieger