Making It in America: The Almost Impossible Quest to Manufacture in the U.S.A. (And How It Got That Way) (Hardcover)

Making It in America: The Almost Impossible Quest to Manufacture in the U.S.A. (And How It Got That Way) By Rachel Slade Cover Image
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A moving and eye-opening look at the story of manufacturing in America, whether it can ever successfully return to our shores, and why our nation depends on it, told through the experience of one young couple in Maine as they attempt to rebuild a lost industry, ethically. • From the best-selling author of Into the Raging Sea

Meet Ben and Whitney Waxman, two tireless idealists attempting to do the impossible: produce an American-made, union-made, all American-sourced sweatshirt—an American hoodie.

Ben spent a decade organizing workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin, fighting for Americans at a time when national support for unions had sunk to an all-time low. Struggling with depression and a drug dependency, Ben lands back in his hometown of Portland, Maine, desperate to prove that ethical manufacturing is possible. There, he meets Whitney, a bartender wrestling with her own complicated past. In each other they see a better future, a version of the American dream they can build together.

Making It in America is a deeply personal account of one couple's quest to change the world. As they navigate private struggles, international trade wars, and a global pandemic, their story carries us across the nation and across time, from the cotton fields of Mississippi to New York City’s hollowed-out garment district to a family-owned zipper company in Los Angeles to the enormous knit-and-dye factories in North Carolina. Throughout, we grapple with what "Made in the USA" really means to Americans in the twenty-first century.

Making It in America also offers a unique look at global politics, economics, and labor through the story of textile manufacturing. It was the demand for cheap cloth that sparked the industrial revolution. It was the brutality of the textile industry that first drove workers to organize.

Making It in America reveals how profoundly manufacturing shapes all of us. Each twist and turn of the Waxmans' quest tells us how we got here, where we are now, and where we're headed—through the people that produce the fabric of our lives.

About the Author

RACHEL SLADE is the acclaimed author of Into the Raging Sea, a national bestseller, New York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Maine Literary Award for nonfiction. She spent a decade in the city magazine trenches at Boston—first as the design editor, ultimately as executive editor. Her editing and writing have won national awards in civic journalism, reporting, criticism, and reader service. She has been a lecturer in political science and journalism at Tufts University. She splits her time between Brookline, Massachusetts, and Rockport, Maine.

Praise For…

One of Cosmopolitan’s 14 Best Nonfiction Books Coming Out in 2024
Publishers Weekly Top 10 Pick in Business and Economics
One of the Next Big Idea Book Club’s 40 Nonfiction Books to Look Out for in 2024
One of the Financial Times’ Best Business Books of the Month

“An enlightening look at the history of manufacturing in America and how we got to where we are today.”

“By following the Waxmans over years as they build their business — and more than once come close to losing everything — Slade tells a story of trade, globalization, capital, labor and the political choices that have led to American manufacturing’s decline, and makes an impassioned case for its return.”
The New York Times

“Persuasively argue[d] . . . Slade’s book gives a granular sense of just how hard it is for business owners, particularly those in manufacturing, to do the right thing by their workers in America today. It also conveys just how meaningful and rewarding building a truly ethical business can be, for owners and workers alike . . . its broader political resonance is potent and timely.”
—The Washington Post

“A timely examination of the difficulty of reviving manufacturing in the US . . . Slade explores the imprint that decades of neoliberalism and offshoring has left on America’s worker and economic resilience through the Waxmans’ compelling story. From Ben’s idealistic youth working for unions to the couple’s drives up the eastern seaboard in search of the last vestiges of the American textile network, Made-in-USA enthusiasts and free-trade hawks alike will be rooting for this couple to succeed.”
—Financial Times

“Excellent . . . I have been waiting with great anticipation for many months for this book to come out, and I’m pleased to report that it was worth the wait. Making It in America is a treasure trove of fascinating, relevant historical information—a Buy American manifesto disguised as a narrative. It’s both a delight and an education to see how Rachel puts all the information together and how she chooses to construct it.”
—Greg Olear, Prevail podcast and newsletter, author of Dirty Rubles

“An incisive look at the history and current state of American manufacturing. . . . This galvanizing call for Americans ‘to start making things for themselves’ serves as both a sweeping report on a globalized industry and a practical road map for aspiring small-scale manufacturers. Readers will feel invigorated.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Both provides a wealth of background information on the rise and fall of manufacturing in America and tells a story of rebellious entrepreneurship, one full of hope, determination, and the American spirit.”

“Readers of this engaging story will find themselves rooting for the plucky couple . . . an uplifting Horatio Alger story.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] page-turning chronicle . . . Slade is an experienced and insightful storyteller.”
Boston Business Journal 

“Reads almost like a drama.”
—News Center Maine

“At turns rousing and heartbreaking, Making It in America takes the reader on a journey that is both encyclopedic and intimate, through the wastelands of America’s lost manufacturing might, and the jobs, families and communities that were crushed in the process.  As we ride on the shoulders of Ben and Whitney Waxman, who wanted nothing more than to make a sweatshirt ethically in America and pay their workers a fair wage, Slade’s revelatory account brings home the greed and immense global forces bearing down on average Americans, and how a plucky duo battled to retain their integrity.”
— Katherine Eban, author of Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom

“A knowledgeable indictment of failed American trade and labor policies, Rachel Slade's timely book, powered by her admirable skills as a storyteller, also provides a much-needed glimpse of a potentially fairer, more equitable future for American workers and consumers.”
—Philip Dray, author of There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593316887
ISBN-10: 0593316886
Publisher: Pantheon
Publication Date: January 9th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English