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Trucking Country: The Road to America's…
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Trucking Country: The Road to America's Wal-Mart Economy (2008)

by Shane Hamilton

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The Culture of Long-Haul Trucking

"Trucking Country" is a social, economic, and cultural history of Long-haul trucking. Shane Hamilton's monograph is a welcome addition to the legacy of New Deal liberalism and the neoliberal shift during the 70s that saw the Reagan era redefine what it meant to be a long-haul trucker.

Hamilton's thesis is that as the emergence of "agribusiness" forced small-town farmers out of their plots, they increasing turned to trucking. From industry's point of view, trucking was the unregulated alternative to breaking the monopolies of the meat-packers, the beef trusts, the milk cartels, and allowed the new middle-class demands for "always low prices" to be institutionalized. Truckers on the other hand, the libertarian anti-statists who resisted the big-boss unions, formed a truly unique identity as a modern-day "American Cowboy" and the cult of personality was born surrounding the myth of the "king of the open road."

As a PhD dissertation turned book, Hamilton is long on the details and minutia of New Deal macroeconomics, postwar middle-class consumerism, and Reaganomics. A little too much economics in my opinion. The best parts of the book were the exploration of the cultural identity built up from the romanticism of the long-haul trucker. The exploration of that identity through cultural representations in both Country music and film were also thoroughly engaging.

Hamilton himself comes from rural roots, growing up in Wisconsin. The book is understandably focused on the midwest, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois. Having lived that lifestyle, Hamilton truly understands the psyche of the many men (and women) who transformed themselves from sharecroppers into long-haul truckers.

Overall, I appreciated very much so the detailed research and wonderful descriptions of rural America. As both an academic text and a casual read, I definitely recommend "Trucking Country" for anyone who wants to learn more about the social history of agrarian USA. ( )
  bruchu | Jan 12, 2009 |
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Full title (2008): Trucking country : the road to America's Wal-Mart economy / Shane Hamilton; 2005 dissertation had title: "Trucking Country: Food Politics and the Transformation of Rural Life in Postwar America"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691135827, Hardcover)

Trucking Country is a social history of long-haul trucking that explores the contentious politics of free-market capitalism in post-World War II America. Shane Hamilton paints an eye-opening portrait of the rural highways of the American heartland, and in doing so explains why working-class populist voters are drawn to conservative politicians who seemingly don't represent their financial interests.

Hamilton challenges the popular notion of "red state" conservatism as a devil's bargain between culturally conservative rural workers and economically conservative demagogues in the Republican Party. The roots of rural conservatism, Hamilton demonstrates, took hold long before the culture wars and free-market fanaticism of the 1990s. As Hamilton shows, truckers helped build an economic order that brought low-priced consumer goods to a greater number of Americans. They piloted the big rigs that linked America's factory farms and agribusiness food processors to suburban supermarkets across the country.

Trucking Country is the gripping account of truckers whose support of post-New Deal free enterprise was so virulent that it sparked violent highway blockades in the 1970s. It's the story of "bandit" drivers who inspired country songwriters and Hollywood filmmakers to celebrate the "last American cowboy," and of ordinary blue-collar workers who helped make possible the deregulatory policies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and set the stage for Wal-Mart to become America's most powerful corporation in today's low-price, low-wage economy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:28 -0400)

"Trucking Country is a social history of long-haul trucking that explores the cotentious politics of free-market capitalism in post-World War II America. Shane Hamilton paints an eye-opening portrait of the rural highways of the American heartland, and in doing so explains why working-class populist voters are drawn to conservative politicians who seemingly don't represent their financial interests." "Hamilton challenges the popular notion of "red state'" conservatism as a devil's bargain between culturally conservative rural workers and economically conservative demagogues in the Republican Party. The roots of rural conservatism, Hamilton demonstrates, took hold long before the culture wars and free-market fanaticism of the 1990s. As Hamilton shows, truckers helped build an economic order that brought low-priced consumer goods to a greater number of Americans. They piloted the big rigs that linked America's factory farms and agribusiness food processors to suburban supermarkets across the country." "Trucking Country is the gripping account of truckers whose support of post-New Deal free enterprise was so virulent that it sparked violent highway blockades in the 1970s. Its the story of "bandit" drivers who inspired country songwriters and Hollywood filmmakers to celebrate the "last American cowboy,'' and of ordinary blue-collar workers who helped make possible the deregulatory policies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and set the stage for Wal-Mart to become America's most powerful corporation in today's low-price, low-wage economy."-- book jacket.… (more)

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