In the first third of the book, Nelson delves into the political events and corporate policies that caused the 127-year-old paper mill to be put on the auction block. A native of the Fox Valley region, Nelson has unique insight into the town of Combined Locks and the importance of the paper industry to the local economy. In the second part, Nelson skillfully takes readers through the rich 150-year history of paper manufacturing in the region, starting with land conflicts between First Peoples (Outagamie, Iroquois, and Mohican) and European settlers, moving through the roots of the labor movement, and on to the current state of the paper industry.
In the third and final part of the book, Nelson swings into high gear as he details his efforts and those of Appleton Coated CEO Doug Osterberg, CFO Marianne Sterr, and USW Local 2-144, the international labor union that represented Appleton Coated workers. At times, the book reads like a memoir; Nelson narrates courtroom testimony and private conversations related to the legal battle to save the mill. Nelson doesn’t shy away from opining that Governor Scott Walker took a “cynical approach to economic development” and that Republican legislators under Walker’s administration “afforded scant attention let alone resources to the paper workers.” Political biography fans and readers interested in labor movements will both enjoy Nelson’s account in which the underdog prevails.
Takeaway: This combined history and memoir will resonate with centrists, readers interested in labor movements, and political biography fans.
Great for fans of: Michelle Obama’s Becoming, Mona Hana-Attisha’s What the Eyes Don’t See.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A+