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Description de l’éditeur
An on-the-ground look at the diverse challenges facing Ohio, in light of its national significance as the state that has aligned with presidential election winners more than any other -- from an award-winning author and essayist dubbed "the Bard of Akron" (New York Times).
The question of America's identity has rarely been more urgent than now, and no American place has ever been more reflective of that identity than Ohio. David Giffels, a lifelong resident of the "bellwether" state, has spent a quarter century writing and thinking about what it means to live in what he calls "an all-American buffet, an uncannily complete everyplace." With Cleveland as the end of the North, Cincinnati as the beginning of the South, Youngstown as the end of the East, and Hicksville (yes, Hicksville) as the beginning of the Midwest, Ohio offers important insight into the state of the nation.
As a historic 2020 presidential election approaches, Barnstorming Ohio is Giffels' account of a year on Ohio's roads, visiting people and places that offer valuable reflections of the national questions and concerns, as well as astounding electoral clairvoyance -- since 1896, Ohio has accurately chosen the winner in twenty-nine of thirty-one presidential elections, more than any other state.
With lyricism and a native's keen eye, Barnstorming Ohio takes readers into the living room of a man whose life was upended just shy of retirement by General Motors' shutdown of its Lordstown assembly plant. It offers an exclusive view into the presidential campaign of Ohio Democratic hopeful Tim Ryan. It takes us into the sodden soybean fields of farmers struggling to outlast the dual punch of a protracted trade war and historic rainfall, and to an indie rock music festival in Dayton a week after a mass shooting there. We enter the otherworld of long-dormant shopping malls as Amazon transforms them into vast new fulfillment centers. On the lighter side, Giffels makes a "beer run" into Ohio's booming craft brewing industry and revisits the legend (and the bird-nest toupee) of Jim Traficant, a larger-than-life Ohio politician whom many have called the "proto-Trump."
In a year when Americans are seeking answers, Barnstorming Ohio offers rare and carefully nuanced access to the people who have always held them.
Journalist and Akron native Giffels (coauthor, Wheels of Fortune) explores the qualities that make Ohio a bellwether for the rest of America in this trenchant mix of memoir, reportage, and political analysis. Noting Ohio's record as the only state to have voted for every winning presidential candidate since 1964, Giffels traveled across the state in 2019 and early 2020 to gauge how its residents were faring in the lead-up to the next election. He interviews a "lifelong Democrat" who considers Trump's presidency "the best thing that's happened to America in a long time," auto workers in shock after G.M. shut down its Lordstown plant, and a divorced single mom who took time off from her two jobs to attend the third annual Women's March in Washington, D.C. Giffels also reflects on his son's decision to become a paramedic in the midst of Ohio's opioid epidemic, and infuses his social commentary with local color and memorable turns-of-phrase (travel mugs are "prime weaponry in any working parent's arsenal"). Offering tea leaves rather than a crystal ball, Giffels doesn't definitively answer the question that prompted his study: is America broken? Still, this nuanced and often lyrical account, which ends with Ohio "emerg as a beacon of leadership" during the coronavirus pandemic, offers a measure of hope.