Saturday, October 21, 2023

Steven Conn's "The Lies of the Land"

Steven Conn is the W. E. Smith Professor of History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of many books, including Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools.

Conn applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Lies of the Land: Seeing Rural America for What It Is―and Isn’t, and reported the following:
On page 99 I discuss changes in the design of manufacturing plants that reoriented them from vertical to horizontal. That change, in turn, made rural "greenfield" sites even more attractive to manufacturers and encouraged them to relocate out of urban centers and into rural spaces after World War II.

Page 99 gives a nice glimpse into the subject of this section of the book: rural industrialization. Other parts of this section look at how the Federal government encouraged (and subsidized) rural industrialization and examine the auto industry as perhaps the best example of the move out of cities and into the countryside. Rural industrialization might strike some as an oxymoron but efforts to industrialize rural America have been ongoing since the 1930s transforming rural spaces in the process.

In other sections of the book I examine how three other forces have had similarly transformative effects on rural America: the military, large corporations, and mass suburbanization. Readers will discover that, far from being imposed on rural America. these transformations were embraced by rural people, and that rural America is just as enmeshed in American modernization as metropolitan America and always has been.
Learn more about The Lies of the Land the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: History's Shadow.

The Page 99 Test: Americans Against the City.

--Marshal Zeringue