Out of This Furnace

( 11 )

Overview

Out of This Furnace is Thomas Bell’s most compelling achievement.  Its story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family -- the Dobrejcaks -- still stands as a fresh and extraordinary accomplishment.

The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through ...

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Out Of This Furnace

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Overview

Out of This Furnace is Thomas Bell’s most compelling achievement.  Its story of three generations of an immigrant Slovak family -- the Dobrejcaks -- still stands as a fresh and extraordinary accomplishment.

The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through foolish financial speculations and an extramarital affair. The second generation is represented by Kracha’s daughter, Mary, who married Mike Dobrejcak, a steel worker. Their decent lives, made desperate by the inhuman working conditions of the mills, were held together by the warm bonds of their family life, and Mike’s political idealism set an example for the children. Dobie Dobrejcak, the third generation, came of age in the 1920s determined not to be sacrificed to the mills. His involvement in the successful unionization of the steel industry climaxed a half-century struggle to establish economic justice for the workers.

Out of This Furnace is a document of ethnic heritage and of a violent and cruel period in our history, but it is also a superb story. The writing is strong and forthright, and the novel builds constantly to its triumphantly human conclusion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In a powerful novel that spans three generations of a Slovak family, Thomas Bell vividly tells the story of immigrants and their children who lived, toiled, and died in America's mill towns.”
—Journal of American Ethnic History

"I use Out of This Furnace as a first reading in my American History course because it provides an overview of the period, introduces the idea of industrialization from a worker point of view, and provides insights into immigrant ethnic communities in twentieth-century America."
—Lawrence Levine, George Mason University

"A wonderful book to use for a survey of American history."
—Mary Frederickson, University of Alabama

Booknews
Reprint of the novel originally published in 1941 by Little, Brown, and OP since the Liberty Book Club edition of 1950. Acidic paper. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822952732
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1976
  • Series: Pitt Paperback Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 176,669
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    Highly recommended

    This is an eye-opening story about the immigrants and Pittsburgh mills. I have lived in the area all my life and finally understand the plight of the mill workers in my area. This book pairs well with "The Bully Pulpit", the recounting of the Roosevelt/Taft era during these same years and the struggles of the working class.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    Genuine, Raw Account of Immigrant Life in America

    Like many other reviewers, I was required to read this book for a history class I attended. I was really wary of reading this particular book at first, as most of my professors had a tendency of doling out lengthy, technical biographies or novels with hard to grasp plot-lines. What I liked most about this novel was the genuine feel to it, as though I was hearing this story from the actual characters in the book. I enjoyed the sharp tales of poverty and horrifying conditions of the mills--it was something I had not honestly been exposed to in such detail before. In my opinion, this is the best book for one to understand what it was like for an immigrant coming to America, looking for a better life, hands down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2004

    Wow, I didn't expect this!

    I read this book for my history class. As a history major, I love it when my professors assign books that their students will love. From the moment I started the book until the very end, I was so amazed and yet, appalled at the same time. It took this book for me to realize how hard it is to come from another country to America and make it. I thought this book showed the beginnings of the Progressive Reform Movement at its finest. Thank you for writing such a great book!! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2003

    Around the kitchen table

    Reading oput of the Furnace was like sitting at the kitchen table late at night listening to my parents and grandparents talk about how it was when they 'came over'! What memories this book brought back! I would recommend it for anyone who had relatives that worked in the coal mines and steel mills of the early 1900's in whatever area of the country! What a great appreciation it will give you for what your forebears went through when they decided to come to America.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2002

    Personal History

    When I found out I had to read this book for a paper at school, I groaned. But, while reading this book, I kept thinking about my grandmother telling me her stories of her family, and how they started over in this country. I loved the book because it gave an outstanding look at the lives of the immigrants and the way they were treated and how we thought about of them, and the way we treated them. I think anyone who loves to read or learn about their family history will love this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    Braddock, Pennsylvania

    This book is a must for anyone who grew up in the steel mill town of Braddock Penna. or that area. My parents migrated here from the old country about 1927.Many places in that area are mentioned in the book. Braddock is still there, but everything is gone.All the stores and bars along Braddock avenue are either gone or boarded up.The mill still is open but not to the capacity of years ago.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    Stories of My Grandfather From My Childhood.

    This book has brought back many memories of my grandfather who came to Pittsburg via Nova Scotia and Tuxedo Park New York where my father was born. He too came to this country alone while my grandmother was in Slovakia with my two aunts and one uncle. Her came here around 1885 and got his first job in the steemills in the early 1900's. The book did a marvelouse job of returning some of my fondest memories of the talks I've had with my father about grandfather.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2000

    A Must Read - History Buff or Not

    Bell's book is an informative and interesting read. It is a novel chronicling three generations of a Slavic immagrant family who work in the Philadelphia mines. While it is a fictional book, its setting is historically accurate and descript. It reads like a novel, and is very insightful into the human condition that was endured by these important people in America's History.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2000

    Family History

    T.Bell's book reflects a previous generation's aspirations and values which have been incorporated into present day culture , sometimes without deciding whether or not we should actually live this way. Our greatgrandfathers needed to work such long hours , but Bell explains why. Black Susan , the Hornyaks , and other characters within the book are based on real people in Braddock PA and part of my oral tradition as a Hornyak descendant. It must be noted , however, that Hornyak is a very common Hungarian Slovak name and the situations that the emigrants find themselves in are universal. The book isn't a cultural lexicon which explains the European culture from which these people approach the new. It does explain them in their present. The style isn't that of a fast paced Tom Clacy action thriller, but is fine for someone to reach back and sit with New Americans , their Roots, and feel some of the feelings of people living in a new world of new possiblities in a baffling culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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