Factory Man Reviews

REVIEWS

• Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times: “Ms. Macy zeroed in on a family-run Virginia furniture company that was being put out of business by cheap Chinese knockoffs, and happened to find an owner determined to fight back. Ms. Macy got to know the factory town, its workers, the facts behind offshoring and the tactics that might keep it at bay. Early warning: ‘Factory Man’ (coming July 15) is an illuminating, deeply patriotic David vs. Goliath book. They give out awards for this kind of thing.”

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• Starred review in Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2014: “… Drawing on prodigious research and interviews with a wide range of subjects, including babysitters, retired workers and Chinese executives, Macy recounts how Bassett, now in his mid-70s, mobilized the majority of American furniture manufacturers to join him in seeking U.S. government redress for unfair Chinese trade practices. The author’s brightly written, richly detailed narrative not only illuminates globalization and the issue of offshoring, but succeeds brilliantly in conveying the human costs borne by low-income people displaced from a way of life. Writing with much empathy, Macy gives voice to former workers who must now scrape by on odd jobs, disability payments and, in some cases, thievery of copper wire from closed factories. … A masterly feat of reporting.”

• Garden & Gun magazine, by Jamie Gnazzo, June/July 2014 issue: “In a compelling and meticulously researched narrative, Macy follows the story from the Blue Ridge Mountains to China and Indonesia, chronicling John Bassett’s tireless work to revive his company, and with it, an American town.”

G&G review edit

 

• Starred review in Publishers Weekly, March 17, 2014: “Macy’s riveting narrative is rich in local color. … Macy interviews the Bassett family, laid-off and retired workers, executives in Asia, and many others, providing vivid reporting and lucid explanations of the trade laws and agreements that caused a way of life to disappear.”

• Rick Bragg, Pulitzer-winning author: “In a world of blue-collar victims, where logging chains seal forever the doors of mills and factories from the Rust Belt to the Deep South, Beth Macy’s award-winning look at one furniture maker’s refusal to give in is a breath of hope-and a damn fine story to read. The book tracks John Bassett’s fight to keep American jobs on this side of borders and oceans, and keeps one American town from becoming a place of empty storefronts and FOR SALE signs.”

• Jonathan Alter, author and producer of “Alpha House”: “Beth Macy has done a masterful job in personalizing the biggest American economic story of our time–how to save American jobs in the 21st Century. John Bassett III is a cinematic figure and quintessential American, battling for his company, his town and his country.”

• Alex S. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner and Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy director: “The unlikely hero of Factory Man is a determined, ornery, and absolutely indomitable…business man. He’s the head of a family furniture company and damned if he’s going to be pushed around. Beth Macy has given us an inspiring and engaging tale for our times, but not the expected one.”

• Lee Smith, novelist/author of “Guests On Earth”: “The epic struggle of Virginia furniture manufacturer John Bassett III (JBIII) to save his business has given crackerjack reporter Beth Macy the book she was born to write. Longtime champion of the downtrodden and the working American, Macy brings globalization down to a human scale, giving a real voice and a recognizable face to everyone involved, from factory worker to government official to Chinese importer. Thorough reporting and brilliant writing combine to make FACTORY MAN an exciting, fast-paced account of a quintessentially American story that affects us all.”

• Bret Witter, co-author of “Monuments Men”: “John Bassett’s story has everything. An extraordinary dynasty, a relevant and inspiring message, and one of the best heroes I’ve read about in years. It works on every level, from the most personal betrayal to the realities of the global economy, from the struggle of one worker in a small Appalachian town to the future of our cultural as a whole. Part of me wishes I’d found John Bassett III, because this is powerful stuff, but it’s obvious the story is in excellent hands with Beth Macy. Sometimes the right writer comes along with the right story at the right time. This is clearly that book.”

• Martin Clark, author of “The Legal Limit”: “Beth Macy sees twists and subtleties that other journalists can’t see, and she writes about the world around her with grit, honesty and remarkable grace. She has a police detective’s diligence and determination, a poet’s way with words, and a born storyteller’s gift for spot-on narrative.”

 

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14 Comments

  1. I agree with all of the great compliments. You so remind me of Harper Lee. Your respect for characters that are by all measures small and seemingly irrelevant to the story, is what makes the story for me.

    Reply
  2. Living 85-miles from Bassett in the foothills of the Old Virginia Lumber Belt, this book hits too close to home. Coming from a family that worked in the house and laminated truck flooring business, and being a roommate of one of John Bassett Sr.’s great-grandson’s I know about many of the movers and shakers in this book. Because I worked several summers before our factories were sold in 1979, I know many factory workers. In my opinion, and more my father and grandfather’s opinion, they were more than workers, they were family
    .
    Beth Macy should get a Pulitzer Prize for this book. She tells all the sides and never holds back. To John Bassett III and his employees, I wish you the best.

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  February 28, 2015

      Wow, thank you Bill. That’s quite a wonderful note. Really appreciate the sentiments you shared. Best, Beth

      Reply
  3. Sue Pigg

     /  February 8, 2015

    Beth, thank u for all your hard work & efforts in writing Factory Man. I love the book & am very grateful to you & grateful for your wonderful skills as a researcher & writer. I lived in
    Roanoke for 30 yrs. /1964-1994 / most of those yrs. at 2438 Brandon Ave., S.W. Our family
    was neighbors w/Joel Shepherd’s family. I was happy to learn from your book that u & Joel
    are friends. Your acknowledgments indicated that u are married to Tom Landon (lucky guy).
    You also mentioned Frosty (& Barbara) Landon. I’m curious — was “Frosty” was also known as Forest? My best wishes to u in all future endeavors.
    Sincerely,
    Sue C. Pigg
    VA Beach, VA

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  February 28, 2015

      Thanks, Sue! Yep, Frosty and Forrest are one in the same, and he’s still quite a guy. Thanks for the great note! Cheers, Beth

      Reply
  4. Raleigh Dalton

     /  July 3, 2015

    Thanks Beth for a great book. You did some amazing research and got it right. Your book rekindled some memories long forgotten. I grew up in Basset worked at the Henry county Journal until I graduated from John D. Bassett high school same class with Coy Young. My father worked at all the furniture plants from Pulaski to Ridgeway, all the Bassett plants, Walker, Hooker and American. My mother worked long hours in the Bassett chair plant and in the Stanley plant. We lived in a company house in Stanleytown with no bath and had running water in the Kitchen sink only. I left Bassett three days after graduation and took roots in the San Francisco bay area, married a local girl and raised a great family. I returned in 2012 for the 50 year reunion to see that I had missed nothing. Bassett still looked the same except 50 years older. One of my classmates has worked at the Bassett office building since high school and is still there. My kids ( now middle age ) looked at the photos in the book and commented ” is there really a place like that”. I tip my hat to you for digging into the muck and coming out of it with a good story.

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  July 3, 2015

      Thanks for the great feedback and your story too! Really appreciate your perspective–best, Beth

      Reply
  5. Debbie Guynn

     /  July 17, 2015

    I only wish my Father had lived long enough for me to read this book to him. My Mother and Father were both from Galax and I have heard stories all my life about some of the people you wrote about. I thought I really had no reason to go back to Galax, now I want to go more then ever. I would LOVE to meet both JBII and you Beth. This book made me laugh and cry, also made me proud to be an American. You showed just how hard we work and what can be done! I think I know were my parents came from now.

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  May 6, 2016

      So kind of you to say this, Debbie. John has a book coming out this month called “Making It In America,” though he pronounces it “Makin’ It,” of course! Thank you for the wonderful feedback.

      Reply
  6. Fred Edwards

     /  April 26, 2016

    I am 87 and enjoyed your book so much. As a rep for factories Simmons & Drexel, N C for. Over 50 years it was a grand time.People intone industry helped one another.Then came greed andChina.In the 60’s I w as offered a sales job with Bassett but stayed with Drexel.I miss to this day the fraternity of friends even our competitors. Thanks for writing such a great book.

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  April 27, 2016

      Thanks for the very kind note. Means a lot from someone with your experience. Really appreciate it! Best, Beth

      Reply
  7. What a fantastic book and amazing research. I couldn’t put it down! Reading the notes made me realize the incredible commitment a writer pursues and an equally dedicated husband!. My Dad made his living in the steel business and would complain about Japan’s steel pricing years ago. I was young but remember the dinner table conversations and now that I own my own manufacturing business, I can relate many years later. Your book gives rise to many dormant emotions as I read thru the reply’s. I received your book from Mattress Mac IMcIngvale who received it from JBIII who visited Houston. I’m sorry I didn’t pay for it!
    Thank you for such a fact filled and honest voyage through a time in history that many of us did not know. I have a different criteria when I purchase now and I will pay for your new book, TRUEVINE. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

    Reply
    • bethmacy

       /  May 18, 2016

      Aw, Pete, your comment makes me day. Love that you feel guilty getting it for free. (You can pre-order TRUEVINE now, if that makes you feel better!) Also love that you got the book from Mattress Mac via JBIII — Wish I could’ve met HIM. What a character, he sounds like. Thanks for your great, supportive note. The “equally dedicated husband” part is so astute! If you ever come through Roanoke, look us up! Best, Beth

      Reply

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  • Tom Hanks on “Factory Man”:

    Factory Man is “Great summer reading. I give it 42 stars. No, I give it 142 stars. Yeah, it’s THAT good.”
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  • The New York Times on “Factory Man”:

    This is Ms. Macy’s first book, but it’s in a class with other runaway debuts like Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit” and Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”: These nonfiction narratives are more stirring and dramatic than most novels. And Ms. Macy writes so vigorously that she hooks you instantly. You won’t be putting this book down. — Janet Maslin