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USM’s Hillard publishes ‘Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine’s Mighty Paper Industry’

Michael Hillard, a Professor of Economics and Director of the Food Studies Program at the University of Southern Maine, examines the paper industry’s distinctive economic, political and technological histories in his new book, Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine's Mighty Paper Industry (2020 ILR/Cornell University Press).

Michael Hillard, Shredding Paper book cover

Through a retelling of labor relations and worker experiences from the late 19th century through the late 1990s, Shredding Paper explores the changing U.S. political economy since 1960, how the paper industry shaped and interacted with labor relations, and the rise and decline of an industry that influenced state politics as well as economic, workplace, land-use and water-use policies.

"In this deeply researched, beautifully written account of the paper industry in Maine, Hillard brings our history to sparkling life — a history that should be known not just to Mainers, but to everyone,” said Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys, Ernie's Ark and The One-in-a-Million Boy.

Hillard’s book “recounts in vivid detail the role of investors, managers, and workers from the early days of papermaking when all parties combined to breath economic life into the Pine States' closely-knit single-industry towns,” said Bruce Laurie, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. “The highlight of this sober account is the unfiltered voice and struggles of the men and women on the shop floor. It's a model of the New Labor History."

Hillard, a professor of economics at USM for more than 30 years, has published widely in the fields of labor relations, labor history and the political economy of labor. With Bowdoin College Professor of Economics Jonathan Goldstein, Hillard co-edited Heterodox Macroeconomics: Keynes, Marx, and Globalization (Routledge Press, 2009). His essay “Labor at Mother Warren” won the Labor History’s “Best Essay, U.S. Topic” prize for 2004, and his article “Capitalist Class Agency and the New Deal Order,” co-authored with Richard McIntyre of the University of Rhode Island, won the Review of Radical Political Economics Best Essay award for 2013. Hillard also has also written more than 20 op-ed and special essays for the Boston Globe, Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News, Lewiston Sun-Journal, and The Nation.

Hillard attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, receiving a B.A. with honors in 1980, a Master's in Economics in 1986, and a Ph.D. in Economics in 1988. He taught at Wellesley College and the University of Massachusetts–Amherst prior to joining the faculty at USM.