The daughter of a steelworker gives us an intimate history of the rise and decline of a town and an industry. When Deborah Rudacille was a child, growing up in the working-class town of Dundalk, Maryland, a worker at the local Sparrows Point steel mill made more than enough to comfortably support a family. But that was before the long decline of the American steel industry put tens of thousands of employees out of work and left the people of Dundalk pondering the broken promise of the American dream.
Through personal narrative, interviews with workers, and extensive research, Roots of Steel captures the history and character of the communities around Sparrows Point and dissects the complicated racial, class, and gender politics that played out at the mill since 1889. Rudacille details the arduous and dangerous work at the plant, the environmental cost of industrial progress to the air and waterways of the Maryland shore, and the social cost of the loss of that industry for a once prosperous and proud community.
Roots of Steel is a timely reminder, as the American economy seeks to restructure itself, of the people who inevitably have been left behind. It is a powerful, candid, and eye-opening work of history and memoir.