American Steel

by Richard Preston

Paperback, 1992




Avon Books (P) (1992)


The story of the collapse of the American steel industry is an old one, but it's not the story Richard Preston tells. His is a tale of renewal, about a renegade company called Nucor, planted at the heart of the Indiana rust belt. Like all good stories, Preston's has unique elements of atmosphere-the skunky stench of hot slag, the primordial heat thrown from liquid metal, some truly original characters, and a thrilling climax.

User reviews

LibraryThing member all4metals
A very good book. It mixes the technical, business and personal stories of the rise of Nucor steel. A must read for anyone interested in the renaissance of American steelmaking and the rise of the mini-mill.
LibraryThing member frankphi
I find Preston's book interesting for a number of reasons. One, it was a gift from my new son-in-law. Two, it is about Crawfordsville, Ind., a place near and dear to our hearts. Three, it is a fascinating story about the little guy (Nucor) taking on the big boys (U. S. Steel and others).
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listed the positive points, there are just a few minor criticisms.
Preston made a few mistakes in his local research. He tells about racing Busse through the Indiana country side and a town named "Max." He must have meant Mace. He talks about the tavern on Green Street where the steel workers hung out. The place is next door to where I work and I'm sure it was called The Showdown in the era Preston described. Not whatever he called it.
I only mention it because such facts should have been easy to check so I wonder if he got anything else wrong.
My only other criticism of the book is that it is far too technical, which is probably why my mechanical engineering student son-in-law liked it so much. For most of us, the story could have been trimmed by at least a fourth and would have been more interesting.
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LibraryThing member grheault
The story of Nucor, an older company metamorphing for the third time in its history into a new kind of American steel manufacturer, snubbing their noses at 'Old Steel' and building a new, efficient steel mill in a farmfield outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana, . The writing tries too hard to portray
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cool, tough, cowboy, macho, at Nucor. I found myself thinking 'this happens then that happens', how boring. But I think it the failure of the author to patiently dig in and deliver real, relevant characters whose portraits go deeper than their frenetic energy thus failling to capture the passion beneath. Too bad, because I think there is a huge story in steelworking and steel mills which are of a scale unimaginable to the uninitiated, and a fantastic story in an American company saying 'Yes We Can'.
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