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Edward McClelland

Author of How to Speak Midwestern

7+ Works 246 Members 4 Reviews

About the Author

Edward McClelland is a journalist, a historian, and an author born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of several books, including Young Mr. Obama, Nothin' but Blue Skies, and How to Speak Midwestern. Connect with him online at edward mcclelalnd.com and @TedMcClelland on Twitter.

Includes the name: Ted McClelland

Works by Edward McClelland

Associated Works

Red State Blues: Stories from Midwestern Life on the Left (2018) — Contributor, some editions — 12 copies


Common Knowledge

Other names
McClelland, Ted
Lansing, Michigan, USA



The tumultuous Flint sit-down strike of 1936-1937 was the birth of the United Auto Workers, which set the standard for wages in every industry.

Midnight in Vehicle City tells the gripping story of how workingmen defeated General Motors, the largest industrial corporation in the world. Their victory ushered in the golden age of the American middle class and created a new kind of America, one in which every man had a right to the wealth his labor produced. The causes for which the strikers sat down--collective bargaining, secure retirement, better wages--enjoyed a half century of success

But now, the middle class is disappearing and economic inequality is at its highest since the New Deal.

Journalist and historian Edward McClelland brings the action-packed events of the strike back to life--through the voices of those who lived it

In vivid play-by-plays, McClelland narrates the dramatic scenes including of the takeovers of GM plants; violent showdowns between picketers and the police; Michigan governor Frank Murphy's activation of the National Guard; the actions of the militaristic Women's Emergency Brigade who carried Billy clubs and vowed to protect strikers from police; and tense negotiations between labor leader John L. Lewis, GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan, and labor secretary Frances Perkins.

The epic tale of the strike and its lasting legacy.

Thank you Goodreads and Beacon Press for a chance to read Midnight in Vehicle City by Edward McClelland!

This was a very interesting book. I knew about the strike. Anyone who grew up in a family that was middle class or lower heard about it. But I never knew half of what I read in this book. It’s a fast past and easy to read. I was surprised by some of the events that took place. The author does a good job retelling the stories from these people. You will have no problem staying interested in this book if you enjoy a good story and a history lesson! Happy reading everyone!!
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jacashjoh | Jun 8, 2021 |
How to Speak Midwestern
By Edward McClelland
Belt Publishing
Reviewed by Karl Wolff

I'm a dictionary nerd. In my own collection I have dictionaries covering foreign languages, slang, and technical jargon. Within this subset is what I would classify as "regional colloquialisms." One of my favorite slang/regionalism dictionaries is How to Talk American: A Guide to Our Native Tongues, by Jim "the Mad Monk" Crotty. Published in 1994 it is wonderfully diverse in its sampling and now hilariously outdated. Crotty, a Harvard grad, focuses a lot of attention on the East Coast, primarily New York City and Boston, with side trips to the South, California, and the Midwest. Unfortunately, the book covers Illinois and Minnesota, but no Wisconsin. On a recent trip to the library I discovered How to Talk Midwestern by Edward McClelland.

The book is divided into several short essays explaining the history and peculiarities of different regions constituting The Midwest. "The Midwest," like "the middle class," is a notoriously amorphous category, its definition revealing more about who is defining it than a bona fide concrete description. McClelland divides the Midwest into three distinct linguistic regions. The first is The Inland North. It is comprised of upstate New York, Michigan (sans the U.P.), and southeastern Wisconsin. Midland ambles its way from Pennsylvania through Ohio, Illinois (minus the Chicago and Gary areas), through Iowa, Missouri, and down to Oklahoma. North Central involves central and northern Wisconsin, the U.P., Minnesota, and the Dakotas.

It is a strange amalgamation, since one can hardly describe upstate New York as "Midwestern," although I've seen the term encompass everything from the Mountain States to Texas. Protip: "Flyover states" and "Midwestern" aren't synonymous with each other.

McClelland came up with his classification based on the ways different cohorts of immigrants migrated. He also focused on white ethnic speech. As he explains, "Blacks did not settle in Midwestern cities in large numbers until World War I, when they were recruited to address the sudden shortage of workers in munitions industries. Once they arrived, they were isolated geographically by restrictive covenants, socially by taboos against intermarriage, and economically by relegation to the dirtiest, lowest-paying jobs, preventing social or professional interaction with whites."

McClelland asserts that the Great Northern Cities Vowel Shift mirrored the rise and fall of the industrial Midwest. "Regional accents aren't just more prevalent among whites, they're more prevalent among certain classes of whites." He goes on to tell how at a certain point in history, ethnic whites could graduate high school, go straight to the factory, and then worship in the same churches as their neighborhood friends. The factory, the bar, and the church became places of ethnic male camaraderie. Women had to temper their accents because they had to interact with teachers, nurses, and other members of the professional classes when taking care of their families. The ethnic accents soon faded with the GI Bill and de-industrialization.

In its own way, How to Speak Midwestern offers valuable insight into the forces roiling around the dumpster fire of the 2016 presidential election. The fading away of white ethnic regional accents in the Midwest is related to the drastic socioeconomic changes rocking our nation for the last half century. The incompetent haircut in the White House simply knew how to channel the anger and impotence filling the Rust Belt. McClelland also offers prescient analysis without all the pearl-clutching and smug obliviousness we come to expect from the dingbat punditocracy. To find worthwhile answers to pressing socioeconomic issues, pick up a book on regional colloquialisms and not a throwaway current affairs tome scribbled by some Beltway idiot.

Beyond the history lesson, McClelland peppers the book with great factoids. I never knew about the sports connection between Chicago and St. Louis. He also explains how immigration, geography, and the steel industry created one of the most fascinating regional accents in Pittsburgh.

I rated this book a little lower than my own personal rating, mainly because it leans towards the technical when it comes to linguistics. It is highly informative, but a little too specialized to flat-out recommend it to a general audience.

My only real critique is for the book to have a brief glossary of linguistic terms and an index. Otherwise, this comes highly recommended, especially to that eccentric subset of bibliophiles who collect slang dictionaries.

Out of 10/8.5

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1 vote
kswolff | 1 other review | May 5, 2017 |
Really a short essay prefacing a glossary. The essay was interesting; for my region, I recognized very few of the expressions in the glossary, making me wonder how it was compiled.
gtross | 1 other review | Feb 12, 2017 |
As the most recent issue of the National Review trumpeted, this week should signal the final wake up call for liberals who supported Obama in 2008. The final straw could be sited as either the Obama Administration's plan to prolong both the military operations in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan OR the fact that the Obama Administration seems to be in the process of cutting a deal to extend Bush’s tax cuts to the rich (while Republicans are touting a ban on earmarks and a cut in Defense spending).

Listening to liberal callers on talk radio programs this past week it was easy to pick up on their sense of disenfranchisement. Some may ask how had Obama ticked off the liberals to this degree?

To find an answer I watched a Frontline program called Obama’s Deal on thursday night then picked up a book by Edward McClellend called Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President. These two mainstream media offerings were related to some degree. Obama’s Deal documented the two year ordeal that President Obama went through to get his ObamaCare passed into law, while Young Mr. Obama detailed Barack’s rise from a community organizer on Chicago’s southside to becoming the only black U.S. Senator by 2004. The Frontline program and McClellend’s book both go a long way in explaining the misgivings that liberals are having over Obama’s actions as President thus far, for the wheeling and dealing it took for Obama to become an U.S. Senator and the wheeling and dealing it took for him to pass the Health Care bill show that, like every other politician, Obama has no qualms about throwing out liberal principles in order to force his agenda.

As an Illinois state senator and as a U.S. senator Obama sold out liberal ideas for the advancement of his own career and agenda regularly, everything from allowing developers (similar to the one’s he took contributions from) to demolish a historic nightclub in his district (on Forty-seventh street) known as Geri’s Palm Tavern to voting to close the DCFS office on Chicago’s Westside to appease fiscal conservatives. (Further example is given in McClelland’s book as Obama was implicated in the porking out of a $29 million gun range to Sparta, Illinois in order to get its Senator to support him).

Similarly, when campaigning for POTUS Obama promised that if elected he would run corporate lobbyists out of Washington and he badgered the Bush Administration for letting the Health Insurance Industry write the Health and Drug bills—only to turn right around after getting elected and directly ushering in the Health Insurance lobbyists and the Drug Industry lobbyist into the white house to do basically the same thing all over again: i.e. to author his ObamaCare. And The liberals were thinking: WTF?!?

Obama’s promises of false hope were especially damaging to Americans liberals because the thin membrane separating Liberals from anarchy or total apathy is that Liberals have a hope (there’s that word) that the American political system has the potential to bring about change by ETHICALLY working within that system. Anarchists and apathetic Americans don’t have that hope. So when you dash this hope, the Liberals are left with two alternatives. One, they can totally turn their back on the American political system (anarchy or apathy). Or two they can evolve into Progressives.

The dashed hopes began when Obama gained the white house and from Day One he showed that there wasn’t going to be any CHANGE in the way politics were done in Washington. He wasn’t throwing lobbyists out of the capital—he was inviting them in. He wasn’t sticking it to fraudulent, wasteful and abusive corporate CEOs—he was bailing them out! And what happened to the total transparency (so that each individual could make an informed decision) that he promised? After two years of this Obama had proven to Liberals what they had HOPED wasn’t true: that our political system breeds unethical maneuvering.

To Liberals, Obama’s pattern of putting his agenda ahead of ethics was reminiscent of the Bush/Cheney administration. For Liberals, the question of “In the long run is ObamaCare best for the United States?” cannot be asked without looking at the facts around the cost in which it came to be—just as had been the case when a half dozen years earlier Liberals were asking the question “Was getting rid of Saddam Hussein (and taking over Iraq’s oil) the best thing for the United States?” Ofcourse Saddam was a terrible man and he had to go, that is given—just as it is a given that our broken Health Care system pre-Obama Care was terrible and it had to go. BUT, in both cases Liberals have asked: “Was it worth the cost? Was the replacement any better? Did we sacrifice our moral ground to achieve it?”

Of course Obama didn’t have to kill and maim thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens to get his ObamaCare passed. He didn’t have to torture Iraqi citizens at Abu Ghraib or use white phosperous on innocent Iraqi citizens. He didn’t have to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure, schools, roads, markets, their government, etc to pass his ObamaCare. And he didn’t have to put the lives of thousands of U.S. military folks at risk (although the rights of millions of Americans were trampled on by ObamaCare in its mandate for all citizens to be required to buy into the corrupt corporate health insurance industry by 2014). So obviously comparing Obama’s march toward ObamaCare to Bush/Cheney’s march to the war for oil in Iraq isn’t exactly the same. But what is the same is the way Obama exerted his will to push his agenda compared to the way that Bush/Cheney set out to push their agenda. It was politics as usual—the exact thing that Obama promised us that he wasn’t going to do. A promise, that more than anything else, inspired Liberals to get out and vote for Obama in 2008. And now it is the breaking of that promise that will cause Liberals NOT to vote for Obama in 2012. For they have lost Hope

I give Young Mr. Obama 3.5 out of 5 WagemannHeads.
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EdVonBlue | Nov 15, 2010 |


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