Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Meet You in Hell

So I just finished Meet You in Hell, a book written by Les Standiford about Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick's relationship regarding the steel industry in the latter part of the 19th century. Standiford was born in Ohio, and reveals in the last parts of the book that his initial attraction to Carnegie came from his local library, which happened to be a Carnegie donation. But more importantly, Standiford has a background in fiction, so the book reads more like a story than a historical account. Which on one hand makes the book more readable, but on the other hand, isn't as thourough as a David McCullough work.

But it's a good read nonetheless, although it focuses more on certain events than their relationship as whole. Also, there's this prevalent idea throughout the book that the relationship between the two giants of industry is about to turn sour, and the author harps on it continually. But the real breakup doesn't occur until much later in the relationship. I guess the main theme throughout the book is the two's relationship, but the title of the book points to such a hatred and friction between the two that you expect it to be a tug-of-war between Frick and Carnegie. But in actuality, the two work quite well together for a majority of their lives.

The parts about their eventual schism, and the long part devoted to the Homestead riots are really interesting and well done. My final prognosis would be that it's a good primer into the history of Pittsburgh Industry. It's a tease into reading about the actual events and actual people. So if you don't want to hop into full biographies like Mellon (really long, but thorough and an interesting account of the cyclical process of the free market), Andrew Carnegie (also thick, but I've yet to read it), and Henry Clay Frick (which can also be used as a paper-weight, and I have not read either) or you don't won't to read a book like Homestead (which looks at the town where the tragic riot took place)... go ahead and read Standiford's book, because it should whet your appetite.

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