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Winner - 2011 Strega Prize
Starting from his family’s textile factory in Prato, Tuscany, Edoardo Nesi examines the recent shifts in Italy’s manufacturing industry. Only one generation ago, Prato was a thriving industrial center that prided itself on craftsmanship and quality. But during the last decade, cheaply made goods–produced overseas or in Italy by poorly paid immigrants–saturated the market, making it impossible for Italian companies to keep up. In 2004 his family was forced to sell the textile factory. How this could have happened? Nesi asks, and what are the wider repercussions of losing businesses like his family’s, especially for Italian culture?
Story of My People is a denouncement of big business, corrupt politicians, the arrogance of economists, and cheap manufacturing. It’s a must-read for professors and students seeking insight into the financial crisis that’s striking Europe today.
“Who would have thought that memoir and polemic could work together so well? A totally absorbing story, and a portrait of modern Italy.” –Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live
“A searing indictment of globalization’s failures, and the inability of politicians and pundits to consider its impact on real lives...much of the book is sad, honest, and biting; overall it is an important work.” –Publishers Weekly
“Story of My People is a well-told story but also an eloquent and pained wail about loss. Globalization has swallowed up the artisans, the families and the beautiful fabrics at the heart of Prato’s weaving industry, and a world has unraveled like a skein of yarn. While Nesi clearly understands the economics and even the inevitability of this transition for Italy’s family manufacturers, he will not let this world disappear without describing it for the rest of us. A business and family can do everything right and still have everything go wrong. This is an important, poetic, and personal work of industrial history.” –Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy
“This unique book–part memoir, part argument for the reformation of the global financial system–tumbles out of itself on the page, and reading it was an equally propulsive experience. It rhapsodizes and slaps its chest in true Italian style, makes frequent allusions with a disarming bluntness (to Machiavelli, to Richard Ford, to Paul Newman movies), and always has something to say. I finished and instantly went back to re-read certain pages.” –John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead and writer for the New York Times Magazine
“A remarkable evocation of the vanished world of artisan capitalism in Tuscany, swept away by hurricane globalization. ‘Why should this destruction be?’ asks the author and former owner of a small family textile business, in a mingled cry of pain and anger.” –Robert Skidelsky, author of How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life
“Nesi is one of the few writers that have succeeded in depicting the dark underbelly of globalism.” –Luciano Lanna, Secolo d’Italia
“A beautiful and touching book … Whether or not you agree with its message, it has one undeniable virtue: it makes you think.” –Giorgio Marabini, Sabato Sera