Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant

Paul Clemens, Doubleday, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-52115-4
Detroit native Clemens (Made in Detroit) puts an unusual spin on his study of the decline of American manufacturing in this firsthand account of what happens after a plant closes its doors. In 2006, after nearly a century in business, the Budd Co. stamping plant in Detroit—in its heyday, responsible for stamping body parts for every major American car manufacturer—was shut down. All that's left is to dismantle the million-pound presses and ship them to buyers in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere—a feat of labor every bit as demanding as working the lines in their productive years. The author spent a year alongside the workers responsible for disassembling the plant, through a sweltering summer and frigid Detroit winter. Clemens revels in the conversation, mannerisms, and expertise of the "ordinary" working men; he locates their contradictions and the dignity with which they apply themselves in dismantling America's industrial legacy—a job they attack with the diligence and workman's pride their fathers and grandfathers once brought to operating those same machines. Even as Clemens eschews didacticism and romanticism, he composes a stark, moving elegy to a disappearing breed of American worker. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 138 pages - 978-0-385-53262-4
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-0-7679-2693-5
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