American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt

Richard Preston, Author Prentice Hall $19.95 (278p) ISBN 978-0-13-029604-7
In 1987 a maverick and minor-rank steel company named Nucor set out to challenge American ``big steel'' and foreign competition by crash-building on Indiana farmland a new facility, of German design, to produce sheet metal for consumer products, profitably and at competitive prices. In order to document this partial reversal of America's steel-industry decline, Preston ( First Light ) lived for months with Nucor's principal players: down-to-earth CEO Ken Iverson, larger-than-life project boss Keith Busse, cool unit manager Mark Millet and bossy Westphalian inventor-machinists. Also present are dozens of proud ``hot metal'' workers sweating around the clock to iron out start-up kinks, surviving fiery explosions and runaway meltdowns, and occasionally belting down boilermaker highballs to ease the tension. Preston's skillful narrative, deft characterization, authentic dialogue and description of operations make this an absorbing, informative, moving reading experience. First serial to the New Yorker. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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