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Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys,…

Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration… (edition 2012)

by Jeanne Marie Laskas

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1623073,595 (3.76)9
Title:Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work
Authors:Jeanne Marie Laskas
Info:Putnam Adult (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:No Longer Own
Tags:jeanne marie laskas, nonfiction

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Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas

  1. 00
    Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs by John Bowe (meggyweg)
  2. 00
    Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Another look at American workers.

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I loved the author's book, Fifty Acres and A Poodle, and had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver. 1 star, according to the goodreads rating = "did not like" but I'm adding a star for an interesting premise. This was a great opportunity for readers to explore the lives of people who work at jobs that may not be "hidden" for the majority of Americans, but that we know little about. My review doesn't in any way reflect on the people the author interviewed for the book.

On page 7 the author insists that her own views have no place in the book, yet in the same paragraph she does just that, and it continues throughout the book. It's crystal clear which ones she disapproves of and which ones have her sympathy. This book would have benefitted greatly if we had more of the people and less of the author's voice. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Could have been much better were the author not so enamored of herself. Few authors can do the Tom Wolfe immersion journalism very well and she could have benefited from a more distanced narrative voice. Otherwise, the subject matter was beyond fascinating. ( )
  TimDel | Feb 2, 2017 |
Fascinating to read, but I almost wanted each chapter to be it's own book. I felt cheated out of the stories. Very interesting. ( )
  bookwormteri | May 24, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this. In the forward, the author says that the purpose of her book is to shed light on all the jobs that people do that allow us to live so comfortably. That she accomplishes this without being overly romantic or preachy is quite the feat. It definitely made me think about the people and the work they do that allows me to turn the lights on, throw the trash out, etc. with minimal hassle, but it was also an enjoyable and very human read. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
Laskas had often thought about the people behind the scenes, the ones who keep America supplied with products and services, the people we never seem to think about. She decided that she would choose 9 different job fields and learn what she could about the workers who fill the positions. Spending a month alongside coal miners in the Hopedale Mines in Cadiz, Ohio, turned out to be so much more than she thought before she took that first trip down into the earth on an elevator and then 6 more miles on a 'mantrip', or small train car. After the initial fear of the darkness and danger Lakas found herself strangely drawn to the lifestyle of the miners and was reluctant to leave it all behind at the end of the month. Next was a stay with migrant workers in Cherryfield, Maine, who harvested blueberries in one of the states that pays well and provides medical and education opportunites to the laborers. A visit to Cincinnati to find out about the BenGals, cheerleaders for the NFL Bengals turned out to be a fun trip but an eye-opening look at weight issues, perfect hair and makeup, and how little these girls are paid ($75 per game x 10 games = really?). A stint with air traffic controllers at LaGuardia is frightening in the amount of planes these people juggle on outdated equipment and mandatory overtime. Laskas spent time at a huge gun store in Yuma, Arizona, on a cattle ranch in Throckmorton, Texas, an oil rig on Alaska's northern slope, and riding with a female long haul trucker named Sputter through the midwest. Her last visit was at the Puente Hills Landfill in California where she learned just what it takes to handle the trash that America produces every single day. I was suprised, as was Laskas, to learn that some landfills pipe the methane gas to power stations that generate thousands of killowats of electricity to help with city power grids. Laskas seemed to enjoy every scenario that she placed herself in and that sense of adventure is evident in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed going along for the ride. ( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
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Looks at the remarkable men and women whose low-profile accomplishments contribute to the running of the nation, from coal miners and oil rig workers to migrant laborers and air traffic controllers.

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