Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This outstanding, unassuming book should not be missed--it is worth reading and discussing in every household and classroom in America. Do you know where your clothes were made, by what types of people and under what circumstances? Do you care? Should you care? This intriguing book looks into these issues and more, yet its tone is refreshingly accessible and unpreachy.

All-American Kelsey Timmerman noticed that his typical ensemble of T-shirt, jeans, boxers, and flip-flops, all bore tags declaring their foreign manufacture in places such as Honduras, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and China. His curiosity and his experience as a travel writer coincide in a mission to visit the places and meet the people who actually made his clothes. With a backpack, notebook, camera, the clothes on his back, and a mixture of guileless intelligence, he set out to explore the globalization of the garment industry, up close and personal.

His approach is to minimize the intrusive effects of his inquiry into the factories' operations and the lives of the workers by keeping his visits as unofficial as possible. He is just an ordinary guy who happens to be interested in the origin of his underwear. Although he has heard about sweatshops, child labor and unfit working conditions, he wants to see for himself. He wants to know if it's possible to be an informed, engaged consumer. His journey helps us see that we can all be better informed. The people who make our clothes all have names, faces, needs and dreams.

"[In Bangladesh] Asad leads us past a high table with neat stacks of cloth. A few of the workers standing around the table hold what appear to be giant electric bread cutters with blades two-feet long. One woman marks the cloth using a pattern and then sets to slicing. She cuts the outline of a T-shirt. Plumes of cotton dust fill the air...the factory is clean, exits are marked, and fans maintain a nice breeze. The conditions seem fine. They are much better than I had expected, and I'm relieved."

In Cambodia, eight young women garment workers share an 8' by 12' room that has a squat toilet and a water spigot. They earn between $45 and $70 per week and send home as much as possible to support family members in the countryside. Many of them miss the culture of family and village but they are well aware of the necessity of their work to their families' survival.

Seeing these and many more disparities between the lives of foreign garment workers and the lives of average American consumers, Timmerman is guarded about sharing details of his life with those he interviews. However, he eventually decides that "not knowing is the problem" on both sides. When he tells the Chinese couple about his first--and second--mortgages, they find unlikely solidarity in their mutual states of indebtedness.

This book is far from a "them" and "us" comparison and guilt trip. There are many complicated issues interwoven here, to be considered and discussed. The warp and woof of economic and social pluses and minuses is a constantly changing pattern, and the questions--what and where to buy, how to support or protest industry conditions, how to maintain American jobs, how to influence human rights--necessitate the participation of what the author terms "engaged consumers."

Where Am I Wearing? gives an excellent starting point for discussions in order to make informed decisions, as we determine a responsible course as the leading consumers of garments and other manufactured goods in the worldwide economic balance.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one fantastic book. "Where am I Wearing" is a thought-provoking book that raises more questions than it answers -- but that's Timmerman's main thrust: economic justice is a tricky business, with few black or white answers. Timmerman comes across as a very likeable, average American -- not an academic type at all. His profiles of those who make our clothing are riveting. Anyone interested in social justice, clothing or crazy road trips should read this book. I just hope Timmerman writes a sequel -- maybe, "Where am I Eating."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a fluffy, easy to read narrative on this subject, then buy this book. If you want a thought provoking work that truly addresses the issues then this is not the book to buy. This book reads as a narrative of "I went here, and I saw this" written in very mediocre language by a self-professed "beach bum." There is little, if any research aside from the author traveling to the places and speaking with workers. While the book is very enjoyable to read, it's very light on the facts, and unfortunately I was left feeling unfulfilled by the end. A great into to the topic of the global clothing market, but don't expect to learn much from this book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished reading one of the most provocative books I have ever come across. This book left me intrigued and fascinated with where my clothes are made. Not only that, but it left me wanting to know the origin of everything I use on a daily basis. I doubt anyone could leave this book without feeling the need to do something.

"Where am I Wearing" chronicles author Kelsey Timmerman's journey through the companies, factories, and people who make his clothes. His journey takes him from Honduras to Bangladesh, from Cambodia to China, and back home again to a company and factory in the United States. "Sweatshop" is not an unfamiliar word to anyone in America. Yet Mr. Timmerman leaves his tour with a much different view of the word and the garment industry than the reader expects.

Through his journey, Mr. Timmerman poses questions and proposes solutions that aren't typical of the garment-industry protester. In fact, he sets himself apart from these protesters by having actually visited the factories and met the people who make his clothes. As a homeschooling mom, Mr. Timmerman leaves me desiring to take a similar journey with my children. It's an experience every American could use in their lifetime.

The reader should be aware that reading "Where am I Wearing" might be uncomfortable. It might force you to look at your own life differently, and it will likely move you to action of some sort (even if just to look at your own tags before you get dressed in the morning).

Mr. Timmerman took a chance when he jumped on a plane to Honduras. It was a chance worth taking as he has produced a well-written, thoughtful book that is WELL worth the read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book was assigned to my son for an AP class he is taking. I was worried that the class would be to much, so I read the book first. I couldn't put it down and read it all in one evening. The author is careful to present the human aspects of "It's a Small World After All" He introduces us to the people who make the clothes we wear everyday. He presents their lives just as they are, almost as if he stepped back in time to the late 1800's here in America. He reminds the reader that working hard for little money is better than not working at all. That most developing countries go through a development stage, where each generation works hard in hopes that the next generation will have more. That time is slow and so is progress. I only hope that the rest of my son's AP class is as good as this first assignment. This is not a dry book of numbers or preachy.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book describes Timmerman's mostly fruitless attempts to locate garment factories and meet factory workers, and his regrets after botching interviews or making gaffes. There are also filler passages, such as a chapter on China's Three Gorges Dam and reminiscences from Timmerman's childhood and college years.

Analysis of his visit to a Honduran garment factory takes up thousands of words in the book, but in fact he just talked to one worker outside the factory gates for a few minutes. No insights are gained from this encounter, though Timmerman lists the questions he would have liked to ask the worker, but didn't. After each encounter with factory workers, Timmerman lists the questions he regrets not asking, a bizarre and useless style of reporting. Other times Timmerman asks the wrong questions.

In Bangladesh he asks a 30-something woman if she has met Ghandi (who died in 1948.) He asks a group of young garment workers who live in a communal room who owns their spatula.

At a garbage dump in Cambodia Timmerman is shocked to learn that there are people who subsist by scavenging recylables (ever been to a city in the U.S.?) and says that "it is difficult to distinguish the people from the trash."

Saddened that there are barefoot children working as trash pickers, Timmerman gets the children to toss his frisbee. It turns out the dump is a dangerous place to play barefoot frisbee--one of the children cuts his foot.

At other points in the book Timmerman takes a group of street children to an amusement park and buys them pizza (which he is surprised to learn they hate), and takes a group of garment workers bowling (which he is surprised they hate).

Timmerman writes that his claim to fame is popularizing the term "touron," a portmanteu of tourist and moron. Indeed.

For an account of globalization with depth, original reporting, and cultural sensitivity, read Factory Girls by Leslie Chang instead of this book-length blog entry.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was very much looking forward to this book when I ordered it. I can't say I was disappointed, but I thought I would enjoy it more. It is light reading to be sure. It does not delve very deep into the topic or into the lives of the workers. It does provide some real accounts of what "sweatshops" are really like, and it also shows that being for or against them is not as easy a decision to make as one might think. Timmerman also has a good sense of humor, which makes for enjoyable reading. But I definitely felt something missing throughout the book. Despite that, this book would make good complimentary reading to more in-depth treatments on the subject and provide a layperson's outside view on globalization.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A good book that explores the realm to which many have never seen before: the garment factories. Also, the story provides its readers with an up close view of the effects of globalization throughout the world. An easy read for a snowy or rainy weekend.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Kelsey Timmerman was curious about where his clothes were made, so he decided to try to find and visit the factories where his t-shirt, boxers, jeans and flip flops were made. He traveled to Bangladesh, Cambodia and China. He also visited a factory in the US. He discovered that clothing companies used to run their own factories, but that is no longer true. Now they design a product and hire a factory to make it, so the same factory makes many styles and brands of clothing.

He discovered that 76% of Bangladesh's exports are from the garment industry, which employs two million people there. When he visited a factory, he found the conditions to be tolerable. Later, he met some of the workers on a personal basis and some of their stories are heartbreaking. They work long hours, live in crowded conditions and barely make enough to survive. He learned that many of the young men of Bangladesh are forced to go to Saudi Arabia to work to help support their families.

In Cambodia, Kelsey found a country that is still struggling to overcome the Vietnam War. The fields are filled with mines and many people have been maimed by them. He found streets full of beggars and dumps full of scavengers. The garment industry there seems to be sweatshop free, but it still has it's problems. Unions are allowed, but they don't work well together and there is corruption. Still, the life of a garment worker in Cambodia is better than that of a lot of it's citizens.

The factory in China would not allow Kelsey to enter. He was able to visit with some of the workers, though. He found that they often had to work 16 hour days, 6 days a week and were forced to work without pay at times or risk losing their jobs. Many of the workers have moved from rural areas to urban areas to work at the factories and send money home to support their families. They live in conditions that we would find intolerable, yet claim to be happy. He said,

"It doesn't seem fair that Dewan and Zhu Chun have to work so hard for so little and I, who serve little function, work so little for so much."

Kelsey's last stop was at a factory in the US. A former Converse factory, it was converted to American Classic Outfitters when Converse closed. The factory specializes in jerseys for athletic teams. The atmosphere and attitudes of the employees were very different from those in developing countries. He stresses that the factory had to find an area to specialize in, in order to survive, though.

I try to be a conscientious consumer, so I really enjoyed Where Am I Wearing? by Kelsey Timmerman. This book is filled with facts, but it doesn't read like non-fiction. Actually reading about the workers' daily lives was fascinating and was a gentle reminder that people everywhere want the same things we do, but unfortunately many of them don't have the opportunity to get it. Since Carl works for a company that manufactures products (not garments) in the US, I try to buy American when I can and have been known to spend more on a product simply because it was made in this country. I know I will be reading the tags before I buy clothing in the future. One last item from the book worth thinking about when you shop - Kelsey was talking about a lecture he heard in college when he wrote,

". . . Our professor introduced us to the concept of the race to the bottom. Companies would go wherever labor was the cheapest and often that was wherever the people were the most desperate. He told us that China was winning the race as evidenced by the majority of our stuff being made there, and, as trade became freer, it would continue to lead the race to the bottom."

So, what do you think? Every time you shop for clothing, you vote with your wallet. You decide whether you want to protest the salaries and living conditions of garment workers or if you want to support the garment industry in developing countries.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I liked the fact that out of many books I've read about slave labor and human trafficking of sorts, this one gives you various perspectives. The author is a journalist who went on a mission to find out where his favorite pieces of clothing came from. He read the labels and would seek out the companies that made them. He explores "sweatshops" and gives us a new understanding of what life is like for the people who work on our clothes and whether or not they'd want you (the consumer) to give up on buying them for a boycott. As someone who has boycotted certain companies, it did open my eyes to various things and reminded me of what David Batstone of Not For Sale Campaign has mentioned too.

I think the reason for my low rating is that I was surprised that there was language in this that was unnecessary, and sometimes the way it was written wasn't that great. The idea and the research was well done and I liked learning about the people Mr. Timmerman interacted with. I thought the last chapter was really interesting, but a lot of the book was boring. As someone who zips through books, I thought I'd get through this in maybe 3 days, but it felt like a chore for me to read more. I enjoyed it though in regards to the subject matter.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.