A Washington Reporter Finds Resilience, Ruin, and Zombies in His 'Other Connecticut' Hometown
Longtime Washington, D.C. journalist John-Manuel Andriote had no idea what he was getting into when he returned in 2007 to his old hometown, Norwich, Connecticut. Like many young people in America's once-bustling, long-silent old manufacturing towns, Andriote had fled Norwich for a bigger world and opportunities when he left for college thirty years earlier.
Like many Americans who grew up in one of the country's thousands of former manufacturing towns, Andriote didn't know, until he moved back, just how bad things had become. In the place of a formerly prosperous old city he found blighted buildings, sky-high property taxes, a failing school system, a shocking level of poverty, and a populace cowed into silence by years of local 'good old boys' running everything for their own benefit.
Andriote trained his journalistic lens on Norwich, penning what became a popular weekly column for the Norwich Bulletin, the city's daily newspaper. City officials avoided him. City residents praised his 'bravery' for speaking out.
Tough Love collects Andriote's columns, front-page feature articles, and other writing focused on Norwich between 2007 and 2014. You might call the book a collection of literary snapshots of 'the other America,' the underside of a great nation where ordinary citizens struggle every day merely to get by.
"Andriote maps the road from ruin to resilience for the citizens of Norwich and anyone else with eyes to see and ears to hear. This former Washington, D.C., journalist/City Council candidate/political debate moderator/AIDS activist and historian demonstrates what it means to be a public citizen (nod to Connecticut native Ralph Nader)....“Tough Love” is also full of tender sentiments for New England – its lands (gardening is a favorite of the author) and seasons."
— James Mosher, former reporter, The Bulletin, Norwich, Connecticut