Author talks of the rise, fall of Rust Belt

In the years during and after World War II, the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region became the greatest manufacturing center in the world. Decades of prosperity followed. A vibrant, American character bloomed in the region.

But the innovation and industry that defined the Rust Belt also helped to hasten its demise. Industrial innovations allowed other parts of the United States and the globe to rise and compete. The Midwestern factories that paid workers so well also filled the air with soot and poisoned waters and soil. The jobs drifted elsewhere, and many of the workers followed.

Edward McClelland’s new book, Nothin’ But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland, tells the story of how the country’s Rust Belt grew, boomed, bottomed and hopes to be reborn. McClelland will discuss his book, read selections and answer questions at an appearance at the Fond du Lac Public Library at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. The event is free; no registration required.

McClelland was born in Lansing, Mich., in 1967. He said he was inspired to write Nothin’ But Blue Skies when he saw the Fisher Body plant across the street from his old high school being torn down. McClelland started his journalism career at the Lansing State Journal and has worked as a staff writer for the Chicago Reader. His book, The Third Coast: Sailors, Strippers, Fishermen, Folksingers, Long-Haired Ojibway Painters and God-Save-the-Queen Monarchists of the Great Lakes won the 2008 Great Lakes Book Award in General Nonfiction. His writing also has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, Slate and The Nation.

 

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