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Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town
When Deborah Rudacille was a child growing up in the working-class town of Dundalk, Maryland, a worker at the local Sparrows Point steel mill made more than enough to comfortably support a family. But in the decades since, the decline of American manufacturing has put tens of thousands out of work and left the people of Dundalk pondering the broken promise of the American ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Pantheon
(first published 2010)
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Rudacille puts together an illuminating yet tragic history of the rise and fall of the Sparrows Point steel mill in southeast Baltimore County. It was fascinating in the worst way, because (aside from my own personal knowledge) I could see where the story would end up, it was just a matter of time. It's like watching a train wreck - it's terrible to read of the unfortunate decline of such a powerful industrial beacon, but I couldn't tear my eyes from the page until I learned how such a fate befe ...more
what happens when the steel mill dies? deborah rudacille, dundalk, md native and daughter of steelworkers, explores how the booms and busts of the postwar period have affected the people who worked and lived in sparrows point. the history of the union and mill are interwoven with the stories of workers, union organizers, and family members, which show how much the immediate postwar period of prosperity was a fragile peak that was bound to crumble without better forethought by mill owners, govern ...more
What an interesting book! The author traces the history of the steel mills in the area of Baltimore County (abutting Baltimore (the City), MD) known as Sparrows Point. This history touches on so many topics: unions, race, class, immigration and U.S. migration, rise and fall of the U.S. steel industry, company towns, education, and more, all supported by an amazing amount of research. Clearly the author is obsessed, and one of the things I liked about this book (among many things) is how she also ...more
A comprehensive (yet by no means dense) look at the rise and fall of Bethlehem Steel's operation in Baltimore's nearby Sparrows Point neighborhood. Tackles everything from the dangers of the work to unionizing to racism (where it pays way more than lip service) and finally the total fallout of the company. Author Deborah Rudacille is a native of the area with family who worked in the mills but this is not a sympathetic portrait. She's quite honest with the problems of the company and steelworker ...more
With a panoramic study of Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore, all sorts of complex issues are conveyed - labor relations, race, unions, the American healthcare problem, and the slow decline of US manufacturing. There are quotes from workers throughout the book which makes the story real and engaging. I like the fact that the author grew up right near the mill and conveyed her personal observations. It is an objective view of the rise and fall of an industry.
History buffs and people resident to Baltimore may wonder where all the industry of their youth went. Ms. Rudacille presents a lively history of the boom, bust, boom and bust of giants like Bethlehem Steel, Crown, Cork and Seal, the shipbuilding industry, and many other steel and industrial companies. Basically, the world wars, the depression and the post-WWII slumps drove those industries into bankruptcy and eventual disappearance. A great history of post war America.