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Postville: USA: Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: GemmaMedia (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934848646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934848647
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of the effects of globalization is to bring vast numbers of diverse peoples to traditionally homogenous small towns almost as easily as urban centers. Postville, Iowa, is such a town, attracting newcomers from 50 nations looking for work. Until 2008, when government immigration enforcement moved in, the town seemed to be a successful, harmonious experiment in social adaptation. Postville's financial and social success stemmed largely from a bond with Agriprocessors, the Kosher meatpacking plant that employed much of the town. The powerful sense of unity common to factory towns overcame differences in the population, even among its white residents. In May, 2008, for the sake of political points, the government made an example of Agriprocessors, arresting every undocumented worker-a full 20 percent of the town's population-and dismantling its business. In the process, it unmade the town. The authors build their case study around interviews with residents, putting together a picture of multiculturalism at work; tellingly, however, the authors (an anthropologist, a public health professor, and a city councilman) avoid the question of immigrant exploitation and corporate greed-indeed, the lack of testimony from undocumented laborers themselves speak volumes.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Zato Ici on March 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
The greatest strength of this book is its subject. The town of Postville, Iowa, endured an immigration raid on May 12, 2008 that shut down its largest employer. It was widely discussed at the time. Here we have some non-superficial coverage from three authors who were there.

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.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B. Smed on August 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
The ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Raid that occurred in Postville, Iowa in the spring of 2008 had incredible impact on the community and surrounding area. The authors shared not only their expertise on the history of AgriProcessors in Postville, the history of immigration and policy in America, the growth (sometimes painful) that occurred as a wide variety of cultures settled in Postville and grew to call it 'Home'; as well as the devastation that followed the raid. As I read the book, I was struck by the authenticity of the message. One of the authors, Aaron, who lives and works in Postville, speaks clearly of the adjustment of very different cultures living closely in a small town. 'Diversity' is often glossed over, or painted as an easy process - Aaron describes the growth and hard work needed to make it work. It was very interesting that even though the authors are experts at diversity, their advice was discounted because their backgrounds are not viewed as 'diverse' enough to qualify them as 'experts'.
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.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Abe Krieger on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
There never was "diversity" in Postville. The Hasidic Jews came there for their business, not to intermingle with non-Hasids. The Hispanics were there to do low-wage jobs and had no real contact with non-Hispanics. The townspeople had no say in the aforementioned groups coming to their town and would have been thrilled if they never knew any of them.

Postville was not unique: Every neighborhood in every big city in the US is Postville, with different groups barely co-existing with other groups while sticking mostly with their own. And no amount of "diversity training" will stop people from doing what makes them most comfortable: being with their own.

The only good thing I can say about this book is the the authors were not judgmental of any group, unlike Bloom in the first POSTVILLE book.
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By Thomas H. Idema on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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!
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