Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Meet You in Hell

Meet You in Hell is the story of the relationship between Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick, two of the most prominent industrialists in American history. Partners for decades, they turned bitter rivals, so bitter that when Carnegie tried to reconcile with Frick in the last years of his life, Frick's response (to Carnegie's personal assistant) was "Tell him that I'll meet him in hell."

Damn. Haters are bringing me down.

What this book also focuses on is the early years of the American labor movement and the battles between labor and management. Included is an excellent and thorough recounting of the Homestead steel mill strike in 1892, a disastrous confrontation that (among other things) escalated into a large scale shootout with multiple fatalities.

It's a terrific read, very intense, and full of the sense of dislocation you get when you read about centuries past. Here are a few random facts that I picked up from the book:
--In the 1860's there were less than 30,000 miles of railroad track in the U.S. By the 1890's there were over 160,000.
--In the 1880's, 21.5% of children born in the U.S. did not live to see their first birthday.
--A person born in 1880 had a life expectancy of forty-six.

More evidence that the twenty-first century does, in fact, rock.

Site Meter