This introductory chapter presents the author's recollections how the collapse of the steel industry in the Calumet region of Chicago in the 1980s affected her family. It details her difficult transition from a working-class girl from Southeast Chicago into a middle-class professor now living in a comfortable college town. This journey reveals the costs of both the class divisions that have long existed in the United States and those associated with the increasing economic inequalities of more recent decades. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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