Trucking Country: The Road to America's Wal-Mart Economy (Politics and Society in Modern America)

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9780691160924: Trucking Country: The Road to America's Wal-Mart Economy (Politics and Society in Modern America)


Trucking Country is a social history of long-haul trucking that explores the contentious politics of free-market capitalism in post-World War II America. Shane Hamilton paints an eye-opening portrait of the rural highways of the American heartland, and in doing so explains why working-class populist voters are drawn to conservative politicians who seemingly don't represent their financial interests.


Hamilton challenges the popular notion of "red state" conservatism as a devil's bargain between culturally conservative rural workers and economically conservative demagogues in the Republican Party. The roots of rural conservatism, Hamilton demonstrates, took hold long before the culture wars and free-market fanaticism of the 1990s. As Hamilton shows, truckers helped build an economic order that brought low-priced consumer goods to a greater number of Americans. They piloted the big rigs that linked America's factory farms and agribusiness food processors to suburban supermarkets across the country.



Trucking Country is the gripping account of truckers whose support of post-New Deal free enterprise was so virulent that it sparked violent highway blockades in the 1970s. It's the story of "bandit" drivers who inspired country songwriters and Hollywood filmmakers to celebrate the "last American cowboy," and of ordinary blue-collar workers who helped make possible the deregulatory policies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and set the stage for Wal-Mart to become America's most powerful corporation in today's low-price, low-wage economy.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Move over Tom Frank. Hamilton shows that what buried the New Deal was not the recent rise of cultural conservatism, but a longstanding and deep rejection of government intervention in the economy. One of the best history books ever written on the origins of neoliberalism."--Ted Steinberg, author of Down to Earth

"Shane Hamilton traces how an obscure loophole in transportation law helped reshape the rural economy--and, in the process, changed the way we eat. This is an imaginative, provocative piece of work."--Marc Levinson, author of The Box

"Well-written and tightly argued, Shane Hamilton's Trucking Country illuminates one of the twentieth century's most important transformations: the role of independent truckers, many of them former farmers, in seizing the delivery of agricultural products from railroads, revolutionizing food distribution, and, paradoxically, abetting the triumph of agribusiness."--Pete Daniel, National Museum of American History

"A startlingly original contribution. Shane Hamilton has crafted a truly fresh, unfamiliar, and enormously enlightening account of the decline of economic liberalism in postwar America. This is a brilliant book, one that should be read by anyone interested in exploring the intersection of politics, culture, and economics in modern America."--Joseph A. McCartin, author of Labor's Great War

"Trucking Country is a highly innovative and strikingly unique piece of work. Hamilton approaches one of the most intensely studied historical topics of the current scholarly generation--the demise of New Deal liberalism--from an angle that virtually no other social, political, labor, or cultural historian has attempted. Hamilton has written a superb and persuasive book."--Nelson Lichtenstein, author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor

About the Author:

Shane Hamilton is associate professor of history and associate director of the Center for Virtual History at the University of Georgia. With Sarah Phillips, he is author of The Kitchen Debate and Cold War Consumer Politics.

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