Cover image for Buy American : the untold story of economic nationalism
Buy American : the untold story of economic nationalism
Frank, Dana.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 316 pages ; 24 cm
Whose economic nation? Buy American campaigns and the American Revolution -- The class politics of the tariff: or, secrets of the tariff revealed -- Circling the wagons: buy American campaigns during the Great Depression -- No thanks, Mr. Hearst: alternatives to buy Americanism in the 1930s -- Making the world safe for American products: imperial free trade in the American century -- So we'll be able to make it in the U.S.A.: the ILCWU, the union label, and the import question -- Demons in the parking lot: autoworkers and the "Japanese threat" -- This label means bigger profits: corporate-sponsored buy American campaigns -- Nationalism from the bottom up: popular buy American campaigns.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HC110.C6 F734 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Are imports really to blame for disappearing American jobs? Labor historian Dana Frank demonstrated how "Buy American" campaigns are not a new idea, tracing the history and politics of economic nationalism from the American Revolution to the present. The entertaining story is full of surprises, including misguided heroes, chilling racism, and more than a few charlatans. Frank contributes a much-needed new approach to the whole debate between free trade and protectionism, a strategy that would serve the needs of workers instead of the interests of corporations and economic elites.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The call to buy American-made products and protect U.S. jobs is nearly as old as the nation, dating back to the Boston Tea Party. Frank explores the historical and political context of the occasional "import panic attack(s)" that hit the country. In a chapter examining alternatives to "Buy Americanism," Frank focuses on internal racial issues and how they affect worker perspectives. In the 1930s Americans of African and Chinese descent wanted to embrace their international ties, not indulge in xenophobic economic policies. Black newspapers scorned the patriotism implied by the buy-American movement at a time when racial segregation was rampant. Frank also examines how unions have used the rallying cry to leverage larger salaries for workers, sometimes coming dangerously close to blaming overseas workers for U.S. economic woes. Even large corporations, including Wal-Mart, have sponsored the movement when it suited their purposes, to hold onto market share. This is a timely look at American economic nationalism, given the trend toward a globalized economy. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

In this provocative and intelligent book, Frank (American studies, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) examines the historical and socioeconomic roots of "Buy American" campaigns, analyzing the consequences for working people with surprising drama. "Buy American" campaigns date as far back as the Boston Tea Party. They also, as Frank illustrates through case studies involving William Randolph Hearst, Sam Walton, and the U.S. labor movement, have become a raison d'ˆtre for racism, a front for private interests, and a means of undermining working-class democracy. Frank does an excellent job of creating articulate arguments out of a complex blend of history, economics, and current events. Her call for a new approach to foreign economic relationsÄone that promotes decent labor standards for workers worldwide and puts limits on capital mobilityÄwill not meet with everyone's approval but should provoke stimulating discussion. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.ÄDonna L. Schulman, Cornell Univ. ILR Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this self-described "politically engaged scholarship," labor historian Frank (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) examines the convoluted roots of "Buy American" campaigns. He traces the roles of business, labor, and politicians in the American debate over protectionism versus free trade from the Revolutionary era to the present. The author pays particular attention to the 1930s and the 1970s, when economic nationalism drew support from influential sectors of both business and labor. But the Buy America campaigns brought little relief to American workers and alienated many with their anti-Asian and anti-immigrant rhetoric. These observations lead Frank to offer a six-point program predicated on international labor solidarity and designed to promote economic democracy at home and abroad. Although breezily written, this book is based on extensive research in contemporary newspapers and magazines as well as labor archives. Recommended for graduate and research collections. D. Lindstrom; University of Wisconsin--Madison