Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism

Richard C. Longworth, Author . Bloomsbury $25.95 (307p) ISBN 978-1-59691-413-1

Ex–Chicago Tribune correspondent Longworth (Global Squeeze ) paints a bleak, evocative portrait of the Midwest's losing struggle with foreign competition and capitalist gigantism. It's a landscape of shuttered factories, desperate laid-off workers, family farms gobbled up by agribusiness, once great cities like Detroit and Cleveland now in ruins, small towns devolved into depopulated “rural slums” haunted by pensioners and meth-heads. But the harshest element of the book is Longworth's own pitiless ideology of globalism. In his telling, Midwesterners are sluggish, unskilled, risk-averse mediocrities, clinging to obsolete industrial-age dreams of job security, allergic to “change,” indifferent to education and “totally unfit for the global age.” They are doomed because global competition is unstoppable, says Longworth, who dismisses the idea of trade barriers as simplistic nonsense purveyed by conspiracy theorists. The silver linings Longworth floats—biotechnology, proposals for regional cooperation—are meager and iffy. The Midwest's real hope, he insists, lies in a massive influx of mostly low-wage immigrant workers and in enclaves of “the rich and brainy,” like Chicago and Ann Arbor, where the “creative class” sells nebulous “information solutions” to “dropouts and Ph.D.s.” It's not the Middle West that's under siege in Longworth's telling; it's the now apparently quaint notion of a middle class. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 12/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 313 pages - 978-1-59691-590-9
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-59691-847-4
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