Factory Man': The Book, The Author, The Man, And All The Rest -- The Millions Of Forgotten People

October 15, 2014


Factory Man -- the most popular non-fiction, non-academic book ever published about an anti-dumping trade case -- is a worthy read for three reasons: The protagonist is a fiery, patriotic industrialist who was chastised by his industry and his big retail customers for using the trade laws to save his company; the author is an accomplished writer who knows how to tell a compelling story; and the book vividly describes the ruinous impact of U.S. trade policies on individuals and their communities.

[by Richard A.McCormack | October 10, 2014 | Manufacturing & Technology News]

Factory Man is about the annihilation of an entire industry and a middle-class way of life that it supported. What is left in a region of the country that prospered for a century is wreckage, and little else: burned-out factories, rotting homes and empty towns. Yet with all of the evidence still in plain view, the free-trade agenda that favors foreign producers and financiers rolls on, much to the chagrin of Factory Man author and Roanoke Times journalist Beth Macy.

Pursuing the story of Bassett Furniture as a reporter who did not cover business, Macy says that she knew that virtually all of the factories in her region of southeastern Virginia and North Carolina had closed, "but I didn't understand the steps that led to it," she tells MTN. "The people making the big money were all going to work every day, but what happened to the workforce that lost their jobs? In one county alone 20,000 people lost their job. The little people really got screwed by globalization."

Factory Man is about how only one furniture industry manufacturing company owner, John Bassett III, had the courage to lead a valiant and successful charge against Chinese producers and importers who were dumping competing products into the U.S. bedroom furniture market.

It took Macy two years of conducting hundreds of interviews with factory workers and owners, trade lawyers, government officials, market analysts and economists for her to realize this: "Nobody [in the United States] is minding the backroom in the new global store."

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