From Booklist

Nathan Lein grew up on a family farm near Oelwein, Iowa, where “stubbornness is just part of the landscape.” Oelwein’s once-sturdy, farm-based economy has suffered, and from 1960 to 1990, its population fell 25 percent to about 6,000. Many family-owned farms disappeared, replaced by faceless corporate farms. Returning to Oelwein in his late twenties, in 2002 Lein became assistant county attorney “with a mandate to clean up meth.” In the economic vacuum created by the demise of family farms and falling wages at major employers (at Tyson meatpacking plant, to barely a third of their 1992 levels), good jobs disappeared, and methamphetamine manufacture and distribution became the only booming local enterprise, attended by increased crime, domestic abuse, and other pathologies. The situation was spiraling out of control. Reding relates how Lein and a few other local heroes determinedly fought back and reclaimed the town locals were calling Methlehem. Oelwein’s story has implications for other rural areas, especially in the Midwest, West, and South, where Reding’s tale should be vital cautionary reading. (Mike Tribby–May 1, 2009)

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