Hinterland by Phil A. Neel
An e-book from Reaktion Books
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Over the last forty years, the human landscape of the United States has been fundamentally transformed. The metamorphosis is partially visible in the ascendance of glittering, coastal hubs for finance, infotech, and the so-called creative class. But this is only the tip of an economic iceberg, the bulk of which lies in the darkness of the declining heartland or on the dimly lit fringe of sprawling cities. This is America’s hinterland, populated by towering grain threshers and hunched farmworkers, where laborers drawn from every corner of the world crowd into factories and “fulfillment centers” and where cold storage trailers are filled with fentanyl-bloated corpses when the morgues cannot contain the dead.
Urgent and unsparing, this book opens our eyes to America’s new heart of darkness. Driven by an ever-expanding socioeconomic crisis, America’s class structure is recomposing itself in new geographies of race, poverty, and production. The center has fallen. Riots ricochet from city to city led by no one in particular. Anarchists smash financial centers as a resurgent far right builds power in the countryside. Drawing on his direct experience of recent popular unrest, from the Occupy movement to the wave of riots and blockades that began in Ferguson, Missouri, Phil A. Neel provides a close-up view of this landscape in all its grim but captivating detail. Inaugurating the new Field Notes series, published in association with the Brooklyn Rail, Neel’s book tells the intimate story of a life lived within America’s hinterland.