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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons in leading strategic change
The overarching theme of Richard Preston's book, American Steel, is that of leading strategic change, a concept central to the discipline of managerial science. Another important theme of the book restates a concept central to the discipline of finance: the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward.
From the moment Ken Iverson took the helm of the...
Published on July 17, 2000 by K. Scott Proctor

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7 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did Not Hold My Attention
I like this author, the Hot Zone was a marvelous book and the fiction version was not that bad. These were the only two reasons I picked up this book. The description of the book sounded somewhat interesting, but without the author I would have passed on it. In hindsight that was a mistake. The author really did try his best to make a business case study more aptly...
Published on April 14, 2002 by John G. Hilliard


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons in leading strategic change, July 17, 2000
By 
K. Scott Proctor (Wilmington, DE USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt (First Edition) (Hardcover)
The overarching theme of Richard Preston's book, American Steel, is that of leading strategic change, a concept central to the discipline of managerial science. Another important theme of the book restates a concept central to the discipline of finance: the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward.
From the moment Ken Iverson took the helm of the Nuclear Corporation of America in 1965, he was charged with leading strategic change. He "became president by default...no one else wanted the job...His job description was merely to stave off bankruptcy." Taking the path of least resistance, Iverson focused on the company's only profitable unit, the Vulcraft joist division.
Instead of purchasing bar steel from other companies, Iverson decided to build a steel mill himself. This was a tremendous risk; as he put it, "We played 'Bet-the-Company'." This gets directly to the point mentioned above -- the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward. By employing untrained, unskilled workers at this new plant in South Carolina, Iverson increased the risk profile of the company even further. This move, however, combined with a generous bonus plan, engendered a sense of trust and responsibility in the workers after some time. Trust, as it turns out, is the currency of change -- and change is just what Iverson was trying to accomplish.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From begining to end, an excellent true story, February 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt (First Edition) (Hardcover)
I had just recently started working at a steel plant when I discovered this book. I learned alot about the steel industry, from experiences that the author had first hand, to the politics. I couldn't put it down. What I enjoyed most about it was that it's all real. The things that are described, from the EAF, to the rolling mill, I relate to it every day. At any perspective, from the office to the grunt work, it keeps your mind going.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A company bent on beating Japan at making steel, March 7, 1999
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
Never in my wildest dreams would I expect to root for a steel factory in west-central Indiana to save American industry, but you have to read "American Steel" to believe it. Nucor Corporation has a wild idea about building a plant in tiny Crawfordsville, Indiana, and beat Big Steel and Japan at the same time with non-union labor. Though the writing style is fairly simple the story itself is fabulous and I wouldn't believe it if I didn't know it was true.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambishes Story of Resurrection, February 13, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
American Steel is a comeback story of the American Steel Industry. A little less than half a million american steel workers lost their jobs in the 70's and 80's to imported steel. This book is about their story of how they put their heads together and purchased and created a machine which would make them the most competitive steel workers in the world. This book takes the reader into the minds of the hot metal men and through every step of their ambishes story of resurrection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining book on steel? YES!!!, July 6, 1998
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
I bought this book only because I like Richard Preston's work. Frankly, my interest in steel and the steel industry (metal in general, for that matter) is nil -- but I just had to see what Preston was going to do with this subject. I now know more than I ever wanted to know about steel and the men who make it -- and the learning process was funny, suspenseful and gut-wrenching. This was a DELIGHTFUL book and I'm glad I didn't let my lack of interest in the subject turn me away from it. I give this book my highest compliment: I'm glad I read it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly documentary on a modern steelmaking, April 30, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
Richard Preston presents a rather thorough
documentary of the start of a small steel mill
in Indiana. His writing style results in a description of the company and mill that are informative to a general reader yet provide accurate details for people familiar with steel mills and casting.

Preston goes beyond the technical details of the mill, discussing the thoughts and motivations of the businessmen, engineers, and workers that made the startup possible.

Worthwhile reading for engineers, businessmen, and anyone interested in the steel industry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that says it all, July 16, 1998
By 
Thomas R. Diaz "T Diaz" (Lexington, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
My mother never has understood how I, of all people, ended up being so interested in business.
My business has nothing to do with steel, but this is the book I bought her to try to explain. I knew that if anything would make the point to her about what Preston calls "the hot blue flame" of industry, this would be it.
I also knew that even if she didn't get the point, she'd be entertained by Preston's outstanding prose style. First Light, by the way, is the book to send your mother if you're a scientist (or would-be scientist).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading. Needs to be made into a movie., July 7, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
A true story about a bunch of americans with a dream and a lot of grit. They pulled off one of the greatest stories in industrial America. This book was written in 1989-90. Not long ago, and the people who were there are still alive and working in the industry today. The American dream is still alive if you are bold enough to reach out and grasp it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good family listening on a long trip, March 2, 2007
By 
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
We borrowed the unabridged audiobook from our public library and listened to it on a long car trip. We were all riveted, including our 14-year-old son, because of the vivid characters, excellent reading, and compelling overarching idea of Nucor being nimbler, leaner, and smarter than "Big Steel." As loyal residents of the Rust Belt, we were familiar with the background and enjoyed the story of making money by recycling our rust.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hot Metal Mania, February 26, 2007
By 
sneaky-sneaky (Moscow on Hudson) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: American Steel (Paperback)
It's dangerous, it's exciting, and it's on the edge of technology and innovation. Nucor is opening an unproven "small" steel mill in Indiana, designing it as they go along, a project that covers an area equivalent to several football fields. Bringing the story to us is Richard Preston, an author who later delivered two non-fiction bestsellers about viruses, and "First Light," a book about the Mt. Palomar Oberservatory. In "American Steel" Preston delves immediately into the personalities of his hot metal men, profiling Ken Iverson, a hands-off CEO, and he visits the saloon to elicit opinions from foremen, managers, and steelworkers as readily as he does at the jobsite, on the casting platform, or around a negotiating table in Germany where the infernal casting machine is finally purchased. At roughly 2900 Degrees Fahrenheit, liquid steel gives off blackbody radiation that blisters skin, and will cause solid concrete, or human flesh, to explode on contact. Preston explores all of the angles in a riveting account that puts you within heating distance of the smelting process and at the exciting forefront of a tough business enterprise; adding in just a dash of physics to create an alloy of glistening stainless readability.
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American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt (First Edition)
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