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From Sea to Shining Sea

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Posted: 03/26/2010

Local author Deborah Rudacille visits Greetings & Readings on Saturday, May 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. to sign copies of her book, Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town.

Roots of SteelThe American mill town in Rudacille’s Roots of Steel is Dundalk, Maryland, developed as Bethlehem Steel’s company burg for its enormous Sparrows Point complex near Baltimore. In this account of town and factory, Rudacille spans the century-plus since construction of a steel mill began, in 1887. Delivering a rust-belt story in outline, the author in substance recounts the tough conditions of steel-mill work, bargaining between the company and the union, and the racial and ethnic sociology of the workforce.

A daughter of a Bethlehem steelworker, Rudacille deploys her familiarity with the steelmaking life to the benefit of her narrative, peppering it with her own anecdotes as well as those of her interviewees. Now-retired workers recollect the 1950s as the acme of prosperity, when production and employment peaked, while to others, occupational hazards such as asbestos exposure, pollution of surrounding waters, and racial discrimination belie the golden-age memory of a strong union and high wages and benefits. Capturing workers’ experiences with a company emblematic of American steel’s decline, Rudacille’s work is a poignant contribution to American labor history.

Order Roots of Steel before the author's appearance and request a personalized, autographed copy from the event at no extra charge.


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