In the closing years of the 19th century, the American dream centered around industry, and industry centered around steel. In Pennsylvania, the steel industry and the labor that supported it clashed with tragic results that reverberated throughout all economic and social classes and altered the course of industrial and labor history. At the center of the controversy was the steel empire built by Andrew Carnegie and the Homestead Steel Works. Throughout the industry, competition among steel mill owners was fierce. Adding to the tension was an organized labor movement that had matured since the Civil War. Legal restrictions on wealth accumulation and monopolies, as well as protections against job losses due to modernization, injury, strikes and death, were few. Conditions in the steel mills were dangerous and miserable. The situation was as volatile as the molten steel that bubbled in the Bessemer converters. In 1892, the pressures within the industry erupted in a strike and confrontation that resulted in a battle between steel workers and the militia and caused a nation-wide sensation. The conflict and its aftermath occupied most of 1892, and the repercussions would extend for decades. The text deftly draws profiles of the major players in the Homestead Steel Strike, merging social context with education and personal ambition peculiar to the American experience of that time and place. Adding interest and a sense of immediacy are old photographs and paintings which illustrate the text. The book, part of the series "American Workers," closes with a timeline, list of sources, a bibliography, list of web sites, and an index and would benefit greatly any sociology, American history or politicalscience class. 2006, Morgan Reynolds Publishing Inc, Ages 12 up.
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Part of the "American Workers" series, this fascinating and well-researched account of the events leading to the Homestead, Pennsylvania steel strike paints a realistic and unbiased picture of life in an industrial city. Short biographies of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, owners of the Homestead Steel Works, as well as an overview of the importance of steel in the building of American railroads, sets the stage for the conflict between labor and management. Early photographs and prints, though often undated, help readers to visualize a time of conflict in American history that seems remote to young readers. The story is well told as the author moves between the goals and ambitions of both labor and management. The descriptions of the events of April 6, 1892, are fascinating reading and a reminder of the struggles that workers and their families have endured over the last century. It would have been poignant to have included a photo of what remains of the Homestead Steel Works today. A time line, extensive bibliography, an index, and resources for further study are included.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-An immigrant from Scotland, Andrew Carnegie was the epitome of the American Dream, a true "rags to riches" story. However, not all immigrants were as lucky or as talented. Many found jobs in the burgeoning steel industry, monopolized by Carnegie and his partner, Henry Clay Frick. Harsh working conditions and management's negative attitude toward labor unions caused friction. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers negotiated for its members but Carnegie and Frick were determined to destroy the union at their Homestead, PA, factory. While Carnegie vacationed in Scotland, Frick hired Pinkerton guards to break the strike. Bloodshed resulted; the union was broken. But the story didn't end there. Personal tragedy befell Frick and probably contributed to a break with Carnegie, who sold the company to J. P. Morgan. Frick received far less money than Carnegie in this sale and, further embittered, said, "You can tell Carnegie I'll meet him-in Hell, where we both are going." This is a riveting story told in 11 well-written, lively chapters, with well-placed, good-quality reproductions and drawings throughout the text.-Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.