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Out of This Furnace: A Novel of Immigrant Labor in America Paperback – June 30, 1976

4.3 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In a powerful novel that spans three generations of a Slovak family, Thomas Bell vividly tells the story of immigrants and their children who lived, toiled, and died in America's mill towns.”
—Journal of American Ethnic History


"I use Out of This Furnace as a first reading in my American History course because it provides an overview of the period, introduces the idea of industrialization from a worker point of view, and provides insights into immigrant ethnic communities in twentieth-century America."
—Lawrence Levine, George Mason University



"A wonderful book to use for a survey of American history."
—Mary Frederickson, University of Alabama
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (June 30, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822952734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822952732
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book in a college class and found my own family history flying off the pages. My grandfather was a steel mill worker (before the fall) and my grandmother was a maid for a wealthy family (and named her son after their child). They wore the stories told in this book on their faces, Thomas Bell told the story that their faces were too proud to tell. My last name is Michals now, not Mihal. My father is a doctor, not a steel worker. My grandmother and grandfather are both deceased, but they got their children "OUT OF THIS FURNACE"
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing and moving novel, especially for those of us of the same ethnic background. My family discovered this book in my grandfather's collection following his death. We all read it and were very moved by it, our grandparents taught us the traditions of the Slovaks throughout our childhood. Being Slovak and all that went with it was a source of great pride for them that they instilled in us. As I read the book I was able to walk through the streets in my mind along with the author. Never before this book did I feel such pride in my family, and how they wokred lived and suffered to give their children and grandchildren a better life. I believe this book to be a MUST READ for anyone interested in the plight of the immigrant.
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Format: Paperback
I was forced to read this book for a college class... but after a chapter or two, I was voraciously reading it, more than willingly!

This book effected me so deeply with its complex, engaging, and devastating portrayal of an immigrant family that spans over several generations. Nearly every person who calls themself an American will find interest in this amazing book, because all our ancestors came from somewhere else - this book will give you a glimpse into the hard work, heart ache, and life that your forefathers endured.

Without a doubt one of the top 5 best books i have ever read.
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Format: Paperback
I think a great book is all in the details and the honesty. This book has both. The small details of life in a mill town over 100 years ago. Like Mary picking a piece of the straw from her broom to check the cake in the oven to see if it is done. I think little things like that are priceless in good story telling. The honesty of the author in telling not so flattering stories of his family members who weren't always nice to each other. A widowed father comes to live with his widowed daughter and her four children but treats her and the children terribly. He doens't pay enough money to cover his expenses, instead he spends it drinking and whoring. Later his own sister tries to kill him by giving him all the booze he wants.
I have always envied readers who pick up a book that I have read and loved. I envy you because you get to read this book for the first time.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Bell has made the small town of Braddock,PA and the people who lived there come alive for succeeding generations. I recognized my own family who settled there, even though my family was of another ethnic background. As I read, I felt the emotions of the characters, smelled the smoke, and experienced the grit of the people and the steel towns of Western Pennsylvania. I have read it twice and I am enjoying it as much, if not more than the first time. I strongly reccommend it!
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Format: Paperback
From steerage passage across the Atlantic from his native Slovakia, we follow George Kracha to Braddock, Pennsylvania, and share the lives of three generations of his family in the Mon Valley. Bell's narration is direct and graceful and his characters breathe. An integral piece in the American mosaic is presented here. This book will be of especial interest to those of Central European descent or familiarity with steelworking or the Pittsburgh area, but far beyond that it is a moving statement about being human and becoming American.
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Format: Paperback
Most people are familiar with the experiences in America of immigrants who were Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Swedish, and a few other groups, but you don't hear much of anything about the Slovakians who came to America. I was supposed to have read this book for a research paper my eighth grade social studies class was doing on our various immigrant ancestors, and while I got an A++ on that paper and much praise from the teacher, I abandoned the book before long. I was upset I couldn't do a paper on my more "interesting" ancestors from Germany, Italy, and Holland, instead of some group I didn't really care about, a group no one else would be doing. I recently finally read the book cover to cover and am really sorry I was so hasty in abandoning it before and how much of a brat I was about doing a paper on my ancestors. I grew misty-eyed at the parts where the mill bosses and even priests and ministers are insulting the Slovakians in nasty and slurring language, even preaching hatred and violence from the pulpit. They were treated like animals because they dared to want humane treatment and equal rights. I have always heard and used the word "Hunky" as a fond term of endearment in my family, not a harsh slur word and racial epithet. Altogether it's a very emotionally moving and real story, about how each generation improves upon the last, until finally the mills are unionised; we know the fourth generation will be just fine. The only complaint I have about the book is that it ends before Dobie and Julie have their baby; I wanted to find out if they had a boy or a girl!
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