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Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American…

Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town

by Deborah Rudacille

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This fantastic history of the steel industry in Baltimore is in large part told as oral history, told by people which the author encountered in union meetings, bars, and--since she grew up there and her family worked at Bethlehem--from her own friends and family. I have to admit that I picked up the book because I read a blurb by David Simon, author of "The Corner" and "Homicide," and writer/producer of my favorite television show "The Wire." I couldn't be happier to have serendipitously discovered "The Roots of Steel," because I thoroughly enjoyed Rudacille's portrait of life in a steel town--from the creation of a company city, to the extreme period of growth and prosperity, through to the collapse of Bethlehem and the near-total destruction of the union. ( )
  mikewick | May 18, 2010 |
  HarvReviewer | Mar 15, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375423680, Hardcover)

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 dream.
In Roots of Steel, Rudacille combines personal narrative, interviews with workers, and extensive research to capture the character and history of this once-prosperous community. She takes us from Sparrows Point’s nineteenth-century origins to its height in the twentieth century as one of the largest producers of steel in the world, providing the material that built America’s bridges, skyscrapers, and battleships. Throughout, Rudacille dissects the complicated racial, class, and gender politics that played out in the mill and its neighboring towns, and details both the arduous and dangerous work at the plant and the environmental cost of industrial progress to the air and waterways of the Maryland shore.
Powerful, candid, and eye-opening, Roots of Steel is a timely reminder, as the American economy seeks to restructure itself, of the people who inevitably have been left behind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:14 -0400)

Traces the history of a Maryland steel mill town where the author grew up as the daughter of a steelworker, a childhood during which she witnessed how the industry's decline and complicated social disputes put tens of thousands out of work.

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