Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town

Brian Alexander. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-08580-1
Journalist Alexander (America Unzipped) tells the story of how her hometown of Lancaster, Ohio—about which a 1947 Forbes cover story pronounced “this is America”—has been devastated by a barrage of economic forces. It was built on industry (initially shoe manufacturing, and then glassmaking), and factories employed much of Lancaster’s population for decades. Eventually one glass company, Anchor Hocking, emerged as the focal point, providing steady income and uniting the community. As noted by Alexander, “Residents believed their town was the way America was supposed to be.” But by the 1980s, business and financial changes hit both America and Anchor Hocking, including increased competition and corporate raiders. This forced the company and Lancaster residents into a downward spiral of low wages, fewer job opportunities, heroin abuse, and a general feeling of hopelessness. Through research and interviews with dozens of Lancaster residents, Alexander paints a picture of a town that’s typical of many formerly thriving communities across America. Change is tough, especially with today’s societal disconnection and the “financialization and digitalization of American life.” This is a particularly timely read for our tumultuous and divisive era. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2016
Release date: 02/14/2017
Ebook - 978-1-250-08581-8
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