The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills that Shaped the American Economy

Hardy Green, Basic, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-01826-0
Labor historian Green tells the story of American capitalism as played out in the rise and fall of the "company town" in this engaging book. From the tent cities of Appalachian coal fields to the model villages built for New England mill workers, the company town was once a common feature in the American landscape, with a legacy that can be seen in Google and Microsoft's high-tech campuses. Marked by the domination of a corporation over the lives of its workers, company towns also became scenes of social control and experiment: capitalist utopianists like candy-maker Milton Hershey strived to create communities that would improve worker productivity, moral rectitude, and docility. If the book has a flaw, it is its overemphasis on the (admittedly colorful) personalities and philosophies of the corporate barons at the expense of the workers' themselves, whose lives are sketched in the abstract but whose voices are rarely heard. With that caveat, the book provides a valuable perspective on a well-worn history, detailing the heinous, lofty, and occasionally absurd ways companies have tried to shape their workers' lives beyond factory walls. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/14/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-1-4596-1881-7
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-465-02886-3
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