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Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line Paperback – July 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0446394000 ISBN-10: 0446394009 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; Reprint edition (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446394009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446394000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a voice often as powerful as the riveting gun he wielded in the 1970s and '80s in a Flint, Mich., General Motors assembly plant, Hamper nails down the excruciating boredom of a shoprat's life on the line. These roughly chronological essays, many published in the local press, bare the rage and humor that, with booze and drugs, friendships and enmities, served to speed along the timeclock's "suffocating minute hand." A fourth-generation factory worker, raised on hard music, hard liquor and soft drugs, given a parochial school education, Hamper was the eldest of eight children deserted by their father, supported by their mother. He was determined not to be an auto worker but soon after high school, married and a father, he needed the steady work GM offered. With free-ranging intelligence and a sharply anarchic sensibility, he tries to figure out and establish some control over his place in GM's massive corporate system. While these essays might best satisfy in small doses, Hamper, no longer a GM employee, writes with unrelenting energy. BOMC and QPB selections; film rights to Warner Bros.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Hamper, a son, a grandson, and a great-grandson of General Motors' "shoprats," chronicles ten years spent in an abusive marriage with GM in Flint, Michigan. Despite exploitative management policies, arrogant and/or incompetent supervisors, and mind-numbing working conditions, Hamper, like the abused spouse who keeps returning to the abuser, becomes de pressed during layoffs and revives when recalled to the assembly line. Hamper copes with his perceived limited options by consuming impressive quantities of alcohol and writing an irreverent, cynically humorous column about shoprat life for an alternative newspaper. How much of Hamper's alienation and later panic disorder are the result of his ten years at GM and how much are due to genetics and choices is unexplored. Another weakness is Hamper's graceless style and his overuse of four-letter words. Despite these shortcomings, blue-collar voices are rarely heard, and therefore this is recommended for public libraries.
- Andrea C. Dragon, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The good bosses who did things right were always let go for one reason or another.
The Dude
Hamper worked in the GM Truck and Bus assembly plant for over 10 years, and along the way met more characters and drank more beer than most do in a lifetime.
D. Scott
I cannot find anything else Ben Hamper has written, he could write about paint drying and I would read it...
S. Seeman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Russell Fanelli VINE VOICE on August 22, 1997
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ben Hamper's outrageous description of life on the
car and truck assembly line had me laughing out loud at the antics of both workers and bosses at the GM factory in Flint, Michigan. Hamper uses words like rivets and blasts them at the nearest human target; no one escapes his savage attack, not even himself. Hamper is a "flake" and he knows it, but he is an observant flake who is just as adept at turning a phrase as he is finding ways to avoid work. He seeks to please no one, not even himself, and he succeeds beyond even his expectations. Read at your own risk is how Hamper himself might caution us about "Rivethead."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book title betrays the story in that it's more tangable and real to the modern day production worker than any other book written in recent times. The characters are ones which we have all seen and met..in fact Homer Simpson would understand this factory. The attempts to improve productivity are desparate as the introduction of 'quality cat'a man hired and dressed up in a tiger outfit is found after some weeks later slumped on the floor smoking a cigarette. Suffice to say the book makes some very important statements on the drive for profit and the effects it has on you me and everyone else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tony (hustler@globalbiz.net) on December 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Life on the line comes back to haunt me with every word Ben writes. It's all true, I worked with Ben, I saw it all, drunk, high, sometimes sober. General Motors and all it's cronies couldn't keep the goodtimes from rolling down the line. Truck-in, truck-out, a drink here, a drink there, a joint here, a joint there, anything to escape.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ben Hamper shaped this darkly humorous account of his years working on a General Motors truck assembly line with considerable skill. While his engaging prose firmly establishes the mind-numbing, repetitive nature of factory work, he also reveals how he and those around him on the line maintained some level of humanity by using humor and other diversions in their never-ending battle with the clock. Hamper's take on GM's outmoded management techniques and bumbling efforts to maintain market share in the face of global competition during the 1980s (for example, assigning an employee to dress in a cat costume and patrol the factory as a mascot for quality) is especially amusing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerry O. Burns VINE VOICE on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ben Hamper shares his life as a worker on the GM assembly line in Flint, MI. Bold, frank, honest and often hilarious. This book was recommended to me years ago and for some reason I never read it until now. Hamper chronicles a part of American history (manufacturing jobs) that seem to be going stateside or as Ross Perot once described in a quip about NAFTA, what's that whoosing noise? manufacturing jobs headed to Mexico. This is prose for the ages. Loved the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adam Mokan on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
I grew up in and around Flint, Michigan during the decline of the auto industry there. It was very common to see family members and other people I knew in "the shop" deal with the seemingly annual layoffs and the re-hiring process. Rivethead does a good job illustrating this to people outside of the auto industry.

As another reviewer mentioned, the portions of the book detailing the quality mascot are hilarious.

It probably helped that the places Hamper describes and mentions in the book were all places I knew growing up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Scott VINE VOICE on January 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ben Hamper, aka The Rivethead, is the one guy with the courage to tell the truth about the American assembly line. Hamper worked in the GM Truck and Bus assembly plant for over 10 years, and along the way met more characters and drank more beer than most do in a lifetime. He also wrote one of the funniest and most revealing books about the American workplace ever published. Spend an afternoon on the rivet line with Ben Hamper, and find out what "Quality" really means.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By drhairy@aol.com on September 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
One of the best books I have ever read! You don't have to be from Detroit to understand the craziness of a repetitious job.--It's just so masterfully described in this book. Mr. Harper has also managed to artfully use swear words in a context that is believable and not distracting from the message. I have bought this book to give as gifts to friends from Boaz Alabama to Bangkok Thailand. It's always an amazing hit. If for some reason you should buy a copy and not like it, please send it to me and I will find an appreaciative home for it.
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