Steel Phoenix: The Fall and Rise of the U.S. Steel Industry

Christopher G. L. Hall, Author
Christopher G. L. Hall, Author Palgrave MacMillan $100 (444p) ISBN 978-0-312-16198-9
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Beset by plant closings and layoffs in the early 1980s, the U.S. steel industry became a symbol of the failure of America to compete with Japanese, European or Third World manufacturers. How U.S. steelmakers pulled themselves back from the brink is elucidated in Hall's absorbing chronicle. Pulling no punches, the author, a consultant in the metals and transportation industries, describes how what he calls Big Steel's insular, arrogant, almost xenophobic corporate culture underwent a drastic transformation after an influx of inexpensive imports shook the oligopoly of American steel giants. Hall pinpoints many factors that contributed to the turnaround, including the adoption of scrap-metal recycling; the emergence of independent, electric-furnace ""minimills"" and specialty steel companies; a decline in unionism accompanied by a increasingly participatory management styles; a new internationalist market orientation; and a steady reduction in steelmaking costs. While Hall's painstaking analysis may bore the general reader interested in the human side of steel's traumatic changes, his survey of trends, companies, processes and new technologies makes this an authoritative resource. (Feb.)
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