Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review Number Five

Well, I kind of fell off the book wagon, so to speak. I wasn't too interested in our April/May book (which was book #4 for the year), so I granted myself a pass for now. Our current book is Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, by Stephen Bloom.  This book is exciting to me for so many reasons...one is that Bloom is an Iowa author. Awesome! The other is that I was born in Postville. (I don't claim it as my hometown since I never really lived there, but still, it's interesting to me.) And of course, non-fiction. Great!

I read this book a few years ago, so it's another easy month for me. I may have to go back and review, but I do remember the basics. It's about this rural Iowa community (Postville!) where a kosher meat packaging plant takes over a plant that had gone out of business. Everyone agrees, the town of 1,700 was "saved" economically when Agriprocessers came to town.  Agriprocessors brought many jobs to the area (both directly and indirectly), and eventually became the largest kosher meat producer in the U.S. But along with these benefits came major changes to the town's racial, social and religious traditions. What was once a town of white Christian farmers was now home to people from all over the world. I think there were something like 30 different nationalities represented in town at the plant's high point. It's just a very interesting look at the way the townspeople and the "newcomers" react (both groups have some positive as well as negative reactions) to the changes.

I'm hoping that Bloom will write a sequel to the book, although I haven't heard any news. Since the book was published 11 years ago, Agriprocessors has gone bankrupt and the owner is in prison for fraud and money laundering. Of course it was all over the news in 2009 when everything was happening, but I would love to hear the rest of the story!

Definitely recommend this book!

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