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University of Iowa News Release


May 25, 2007

New UI Press Book Explores Impact Of Meatpacking Industry

"Tied to the Great Packing Machine: The Midwest and Meatpacking," which tells the dramatic story of meatpacking's enormous effects on the economics, culture and environment of the Midwest during the past century and a half, will become available June 1 from the University of Iowa Press.

In addition to being available from bookstores and online retailers, the book will be available directly from the UI Press by phone at 800-621-2736 or online at In the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East or Africa, contact Eurospan, 3 Henrietta St., Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8LU, United Kingdom, +44 (0) 1767 604972, or online at

Author Wilson J. Warren examines the history of the industry in both its urban and its rural settings -- moving from the huge stockyards of Chicago and Kansas City to today's smaller meatpacking communities -- comprehensively portraying meatpacking's evolving place within the agro-industrial landscape.

Writing from the vantage point of 25 years of extensive research, Warren analyzes the evolution of the packing industry from its early period, dominated by the big terminal markets, through the development of new marketing and technical innovations that transformed the ways animals were gathered, slaughtered and processed, and the final products were distributed.

In addition, he concentrates on cultural impacts including ethnic and racial variations, labor unions, gender issues and changes in Americans' attitudes toward the ethics of animal slaughter and patterns of meat consumption. He goes on to consider environmental problems, including site-point pollution and microbe contamination, ending with a thorough discussion of the future of American meatpacking.

Historian Peter Rachleff of Macalester College wrote that Warren explores "how today's meatpacking industry created two very different bases of smaller towns and larger cities, each playing a different role in the gathering of live animals, their slaughtering and processing, and the distribution of finished products.

"Along with this analytical breakthrough, he incorporates the environmental and cultural impacts of the industry within a regional and temporal framework that makes a genuine contribution to scholarly literature. Accessibly written, flowing easily and comfortably, Warren's extensively researched narrative will be eagerly read by scholars and discerning activists, from politicians and economists to union organizers."

Warren is associate professor of history at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, he has published several articles and one previous book on meatpacking, "Struggling with 'Iowa's Pride': Labor Relations, Unionism, and Politics in the Rural Midwest since 1877." He is also the coauthor of "Ottumwa" and "Teaching History in the Digital Classroom."

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