Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory

Bill Bamberger
Cathy N. Davidson

Closing explores the meaning of work—what it means when you have it, what it means when you do not. The story of the White Furniture Company—a century-old, family-owned business that was bought out by a huge corporate conglomerate and later closed—puts a human face on an economy in costly transition. Bill Bamberger took his revealing and powerful photographs during the last four months of operation on the factory floor, working side by side with the White employees. Cathy N. Davidson’s text focuses on six people who represent every economic level in the American workforce: a CEO, an executive assistant, a middle manager, a supervisor, a skilled artisan, and a manual laborer. Whether male or female, young or old, black, white, or Hispanic, these workers understand that what has happened at White Furniture is happening everywhere. Theirs is a story of hope in the face of tragedy, a story of the workers’ pride, skill, loyalty, and dedication during every part of the manufacturing process—down to the very last moment of the last day of operation.

“Closing is the best kind of documentary—telling a specific story about specific people in a large context that means something. . . . In a better world, Closing would be on the reading lists of every corporate board and business school.”
USA Today

“An unflinchingly fair analysis. Hard-edged and realistic. Closing . . . issues a bold challenge to ‘business as usual.’”
The New York Times Book Review

“Here is a stupendous book, a complete answer to any who believe that all that counts in a company is its bottom line, and that the only people with a stake in it are its shareholders.”
The Economist

“If there’s an untold story in America today, this is it. This sad, engrossing, and utterly unique book explores the precise moment of a factory closing with such eloquence and clarity of purpose that it feels like a great novel.”
Martin Scorsese

“Closing is a beautifully composed elegy celebrating a vanishing way of life. These understated, evocative photographs by Bill Bamberger and this poetic text by Cathy N. Davidson ask, in effect, ‘Does one have to sell one’s soul in order to survive in contemporary America?’”
Joyce Carol Oates

“Bill Bamberger’s intensely patient photographs and Cathy Davidson’s deeply informed prose bring to amazing and moving life a human sadness that might otherwise have gone unnoted.”
Reynolds Price

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory
31 color and 61 duotone photographs
W.W. Norton and DoubleTake Books of the Center for Documentary Studies
Publication Year: 
Number Of Pages: 
8" x 9.5"