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The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 15, 2008


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044894
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Greenhouse, labor correspondent for the New YorkTimes, offers up a bleak picture of the current workplace environment. Violations of child labor laws and forced slave labor conditions associated with Third World countries or the robber baron era are occurring on a wide scale right here in America, expanding the ranks of the working poor. This isn’t just some hidden sweat shops; it’s happening in our largest corporations, such as Wal-Mart. Factory workers are forced to ramp up production to a pace rivaling that of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times; others are fired for menial “violations,” such as going to the bathroom during their shifts; and anyone daring to organize a labor movement is brutally harassed and humiliated. Meanwhile multimillion-dollar CEOs such as Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap and Jack “Neutron” Welch have become the models for corporate success by laying off hundreds of thousands while Wall Street cheered. Greenhouse did find businesses that treat workers fairly, such as Costco and Timberland, which pay higher wages but are rewarded with worker loyalty and higher productivity. He also offers up ways to solve the current crises in wage stagnation, health care and retirement shortfalls. This is a real call to arms—a stark, jaw-dropping exposé with the usual, but inspiring, glimmers of hope. --David Siegfried

Review

“Steve Greenhouse has written the essential economic book for 2008. Long before most analysts noticed the downturn, Greenhouse was reporting how troubled our economy looked from the bottom-up. A hugely talented reporter with a passion for justice, a shrewd student of the new economy and a brilliant guide to the contemporary labor movement, Greehouse writes with clarity, energy and grace.”
-E. J. Dionne Jr.

"Steven Greenhouse's brilliant and vividly reported exposé shows how employers have been squeezing the life out of American workers, through means both legal and illegal.  My blood boiled when I read The Big Squeeze.  Any presidential candidate–or voter–who overlooks this book will be clueless about what's really going on in America."
-Barbara Ehrenreich

"In this shocking and important book, Steven Greenhouse explains–and tells the stories–of how U.S. workers are paying the price for the lower labor standards and wages that are the result of poorly-managed globalization."
-Joseph E. Stiglitz

“Excellent and relentless . . . Greenhouse’s book gives a convincing portrait of a business culture that has been more and more aggressive toward workers.”
-Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books

“An excellent book . . . Greenhouse exhibits outrage and moral indignation and an idealism one doesn’t necessarily expect from a hard-bitten New York Times reporter.”
-The Washington Monthly

“Important and infuriating.”
-Chicago Tribune

“Riveting . . . a sobering examination of a growing American crisis, and . . . nothing short of brilliant.”
-Tucson Citizen

New York Times labor correspondent Greenhouse drops a bombshell on local bookstores . . . Greenhouse’s clear and level prose is investigative journalism at its finest.”
-Rocky Mountain News

“Greenhouse’s The Big Squeeze is a fresh, probing look at the critical issues facing both blue- and white-collar American workers . . . The Big Squeeze will be an eye-opener for many. Don’t miss it.”
-Providence Journal-Bulletin

“The power of Greenhouse’s book lies . . . in its reporting, especially on low-wage workers . . . his best material vividly focuses on the always difficult and often abusive working conditions of low-paid employees. Such stories get far too little airing and rarely are they so well told.”
-Business Week

“Greenhouse paints a wrenching protrait of decent people who, by no fault of their own, have been fired, demoted, downsized, displaced, abandoned . . . Greenhouse’s picture should unnerve anyone committed to a stable future for American democracy.”
-Patrick J. Deneen, American Conservative

“[Greenhouse’s] reporting skills serve his book’s readers well.”
-Washington Post

“A book . . . that will confirm your worst suspicions and fears, open your eyes and turn your stomach.”
-The Buffalo News

“Greenhouse has mastered labor market economics in a way few journalists do . . . his profiles are . . . rich in evoking sympathy and understanding for workers who struggle to both adapt and resist . . . The Big Squeeze becomes the one essential book on today’s American workplace.”
-Jack Metzgar, Dissent



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Customer Reviews

I found this book very informative.
Alfred A. Raguckas
What a wonderful book, filled with real stories of hard workers who can't quite make it in modern America.
S. Busalacchi
Greenhouse tells one eloquent story after another about how Americans are being squeezed at work.
Woman of Steel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By snk1414 on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you find yourself wondering, "Is this all I'm worth?" when you look at your paycheck, meager benefits (or lack thereof), other poor job opportunities or rising gas, college and home costs, and the increasingly unattainable "American Dream", you are not alone...
This book is an excellent primer for those of us who want to know why American jobs are so much less fruitful than those of our parents or grandparents generations (for 20 or 30 somethings). It is a sociological eye-opener on par with "Fast Food Nation". It emboldens us to get more politically involved, and helps us form opinions on many of todays very relevant pressing issues(health care, illegal immigrants, the minimum wage, dwindling union support, offshoring and job security, education costs and standards, corporate corruption).
The Big Squeeze covers several case studies sprinkled with analysis and history of all parties involved in our mighty economy. Greenhouse makes a very well informed argument for adapting to changing and new economic pressures and in the end of the book lays out his proposals (albeit too idealistic for most administrations) for solving many of the problems he has dissected. I commend him for tackling such a huge subject with so many variables and attempting to pull it all together into a comprehensive book that educates the lay person (who is not an economist) on what is happening in this country. He makes the reader aware that this is truly an epidemic and raises the red flag.
While this book is not "light" reading, it does tell positive tales of employers doing the right thing, and of immigrants who have succeeded and injustices that have been unveiled so as to balance the overwhelming sea of pessimism and hopelessness that these types of books tend to hold between their pages.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book is both an overview of the deteriorated state of affairs for American workers as well as a few up close and personal looks at some of those so affected. For one brief generation after WWII, American workers empowered through union contracts, achieved a somewhat harmonious status with their employers, which included good wages and benefits and expectations of job security. And the government provided support as well, especially for veterans. But that's not the way things are now.

As the author so well examines, employees are now viewed as mere factors of production and can be subjected to egregious capriciousness. They now can be fired arbitrarily, forced to work off the clock, have their time sheets altered, forced to work as so-called independent contractors or part-time, etc. Employee wages have been flat for over thirty years, despite increasing productivity over those years, while CEO pay has skyrocketed. The labor movement is a mere shell of its former self with private sector union membership being at the same density as one hundred years ago. Advances in computers and telecommunications have facilitated shipping even high tech jobs overseas; trade agreements have enabled establishing production off shore for intra-corporate trade; and immigration is having profound impacts on jobs and wages domestically. Those left behind after downsizing have to redouble their efforts with apparently little appreciation by many employers. The traditional way to advancement, education, is increasingly becoming out of reach for many because of the costs. American workers have truly become an afterthought or invisible.

There really is nothing in this book that has not been discussed repeatedly in the electronic media, books, and newspapers over the last several years.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Capt.Riceman on April 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book so much. People might think this book would be all about statistics and chastising the American way of life. Well, you can take rest it is not that type of book.

This book is very personal and emotional that tells a very human tale about the American way of living in our lifetime. The author, Steven Greenhouse, gives justice to the ordinary and average American workers who are being mistreated and exploited here in the U.S. The book contains several stories about the personal struggles of individuals who were all just searching for a better treatment at work.

What I gained reading from this book is that this is The United States of America the nation that ended child labor, gave women the right to vote, equality to all, and a bright future for everyone. So, why can't we maintain all of those and strive to better our work environment/salary/life? It is very apparent that our wages are not raising along with the expenses we incur in our livelihood. It is time for the corporation to raise wages and stop messing with our healthcare plans because these are the very things that made the USA the greatest and wealthiest nation around the world from the 1950s onward to the 1990s.

Well, I encourage people especially in Business Ethics courses in college to read this book. Also, I'm looking at you UCF Cornerstone course if you want your students to learn more about how to manage workers in business then this is one of those books students should read about in their classes.
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