The 2017 Business Book Awards
Business Book of the Year
Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein | Simon & Schuster
Janesville presents the very human toll of what we too often characterize as “just business.” It’s about a mid-sized town in the Midwest, a multinational corporation trying to cut costs, and what happens to the soul of the community they cut ties with in the process. Janesville represents the real lives and decisions, hardships and triumphs of working people. It is imminently accessible, like watching a two-hour documentary on PBS. It is a story of economics lived, in real life. It’s about people up and down the economic spectrum, about idealism and stubbornness and desperation and bravery. It is also about the majority of working people, people who most business books barely nod at, and then only as people to manage, those who work on the shop floor, whose “side hustle” isn’t a side hustle but a way to buy groceries.
It is the people who work in industries that have been “disrupted” by technology or “outsourced” in the process of globalization. To tell that story, Amy Goldstein turned her veteran Washington Post reporter’s eye away from the coasts toward the middle of America and immersed herself in a community that’s been literally left behind by a big business. It is, in so many ways that which most business books are not: the real story of this American moment, of those targeted by the 45th president in the last election cycle, those who reside in the hometown of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is the story a community close to our hearts here in Wisconsin (less than 70 miles as the crow flies from our office), and a story that deserves to be heard by everyone.