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Inside Bethlehem Steel: Reviewers' Comments
John Strohmeyer: “…enlightening read for everyone concerned about the fate of big industry in America and a must addition to every library. Bette Kovach’s insightful perspective and the spectacular photographs of Peter Treiber constitute a work that will not be forgotten.” Full Text
John Strohmeyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Crisis in Bethlehem: Big Steel’s Battle to Survive, was editor of The Bethlehem Globe-Times for 28 years.
Nancy Gravatt: “…Treiber…and Kovach have teamed up to create a visually stunning portrait… depicting the final decades of an iconic company that literally built our nation.”
Nancy Gravatt, Vice President, Communications, American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) Full Text

Scott Robertson: “Bethlehem Steel may be history – a company that lived for 99 years but fell short of celebrating its 100th anniversary due to numerous economic and production related issues – but its history is preserved in Inside Bethlehem Steel The Last Quarter Century. That history, in fact, comes alive via numerous photos by Peter B. Treiber and the narrative of Elizabeth A. Kovach, each of which capture not only the images of steel production as it was accomplished at Bethlehem Steel, but also the emotions the thousands of workers there felt as the company’s time drew to a close.

These are not the stories and images of a woebegone company struggling to survive or of an industry on its last legs. Instead, this book captures the feel and history of steelmaking, from the sometimes overwhelming heat of the furnaces, the molten steel and the blood pumping through the veins of skilled hard laborers to the stark, cold winter chill of idle manufacturing facilities as they await either a new startup or the finaity of the wrecking ball.

There are many reasons why Bethlehem Steel failed to celebrate its 100th anniversary and was unable to hang on and become a leading part of the global steel consolidation wave that strengthened the global steel industry beginning just a year after Bethlehem Steel was sold to International Steel Group. Bethlehem Steel indeed was part of the consolidation, but as a seller rather than buyer, thus the name that helped build many of America’s most notable landmarks – including New York’s Madison Square Garden and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge -- ceases to exist.

The different sections of the book, from raw materials to iron and steelmaking to foundries, rolled products and machines products, tell the story of how steel is made and how the people who worked at Bethlehem Steel took great pride in trying to make their steel the best in the world. It is a story not only of the recent history of Bethlehem Steel, but that of the entire American steel industry, an industry where the ups and downs, successes and failures are mirrored in the faces and stories of those who were employed at Bethlehem Steel.

One of the sections of particular interest involved rolled products. In that chapter, Kovach expertly tells the story of the structural steel that made Bethlehem Steel what it was, right down to the familiar company logo that so many employees had almost tattooed on their hearts. It tells of the company’s transition from those products – beams and bars used in construction – to flat products used by the automotive an appliance industries and how, one by one, long-time operations were shuttered under the weight of difficult economics and increased competition both at home and from abroad.

What the book does not do is point fingers at managers who may have been culpable for their lack of foresight and who many blame for the loss of health care and retirement benefits. There are few stories of workers asking for help, but many indications of workers providing the kind of help that built America into a strong industrial nation.
There are poignant tales of older folks losing benefits and stories of sorrow for operations and employees no longer active.

What this book does perhaps most successfully is retain the history and heritage of Bethlehem Steel, creating an image not of rusting, hulking, idle operations, but of a company, and an industry, that was pulsing with excitement, built on the backs of hard-workers who gave their all, only to find little left for them at the end of 99 years."

Scott Robertson, Chief Correspondent, Steel, American Metal Market
Ed Riccio: “The most stunning visual history I’ve ever seen. Peter Treiber captures the beauty and power of the steelmaking process and portrays it as fine art. Art that describes one of man’s most ennobling efforts, the creation of basic materials for the betterment of human life.”
Andrew Hall: “The photography beautifully showcased in this book proves the skills of Peter Treiber — and the true dynamics of an industry that reshaped our country. These manufacturing and industrial images are stunning and fearless in their dynamic representations.”