Krause, a historian at the University of British Columbia, chronicles the roots of the rise and fall of the steel industry in his native Monongahela Valley, a perfect metaphor for the collapse of industrial America. The Homestead steelworks incidents were precipitated by Henry Clay Frick's lockout of 3800 workers at the plant, owned by Andrew Carnegie; Frick's calling in of 300 Pinkerton thugs to break the steelworkers' blockade of the company town; and violence that followed when the workers defended themselves with guns. In the aftermath, Carnegie brought the full power of the state to bear on the strike leaders and smashed the union. The author finds previous narratives of these events too simplistic, focusing on the physical confrontation. Krause studies the transformation of work and its brutal effect on the workers. Along the way he offers exemplary portraits of key figures on all sides, including Carnegie, Frick and their numerous union antagonists. An elegantly written and riveting history of a key moment in America's industrialization, industrialization's toll on the labor force and the labor unions' efforts to ameliorate the workers' lot.
Author Paul Krause