A factory and the greatest story it tells


In “American Made,” Farah Stockman writes about the fall in manufacturing jobs in the United States, focusing on the lives of workers at a factory in Indianapolis that has been relocated to Mexico. Stockman, a member of the New York Times editorial board, talks about the book in this week’s podcast.

“I really think we’ve seen unions in a death spiral,” she said. “And part of the reason is globalization. You had so many people who fought for these manufacturing jobs to be high paying jobs and decent jobs that you could raise a family with. They weren’t used to being, but they were after the labor movement had a long struggle and a long struggle. And as soon as we start to see pensions, health care, and decent wages, and as soon as black people and women start having this stuff, factories can now move. They can go to other countries. And it really undermined the ability of unions to demand things and to strike. And you’ve seen a lot less appetite among workers to ask for things like that, because now everyone just has to beg these factories to stay. “

Benjamín Labatut visits the podcast to discuss his book “When We Stop Understanding the World,” a combination of fact and fiction about some of the most revolutionary discoveries in physics. Labatut explains why he allowed himself to imagine the lives and thoughts of some of the scientists featured, including Einstein, Schrödinger and Heisenberg.

“What I’m trying to do is get people to understand how crazy these ideas sounded back then to the very people who discovered them,” Labatut says. “And I had to use these characters to get people to get a feel for the brutality of beauty that these men were seeing for the first time.”

Also in this week’s episode, Tina Jordan reflects on the history of book review as she celebrates her 125th birthday; Elizabeth Harris has news from the publishing world; and Gal Beckerman and Lauren Christensen talk about what people read. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in “What We Read” this week:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode and the Book Review podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].


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