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Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America Hardcover – May 10, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The relationship between industrialists Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick is an illuminating window on American capitalism as well as a fascinating study of how a strong partnership can give way to vicious acrimony. Les Standiford tells the story of the two men in Meet You in Hell, a book that draws its title from Frick's angry rejoinder to Carnegie's late-in-life attempt at reconciliation. Carnegie and Frick, in Standiford's estimation, represented all that was good and bad in American capitalism. They were self-made men, rising from blue-collar backgrounds to become titans in the burgeoning American steel industry, some of the wealthiest men in the world, and loyal partners, even if they were always somewhat short of being actual friends. But they were also pivotal figures in the infamous Homestead Steel strike, where Frick, acting on implicit orders from Carnegie, dispatched hundreds of private security guards into a testy labor situation, resulting in mayhem and death on all sides and forever casting a pall over the history of American labor relations. While Carnegie and Frick's acumen in getting rich is given due credit, Standiford also tells of the workers who were exploited or killed in that same effort. Standiford presents Carnegie and Frick without prejudice, demonstrating their fierce competitiveness, short tempers, business savvy, and troublesome character flaws. The reader also comes to realize that, although there were some negligible differences, the two men are so similar and so powerful that a falling out was inevitable. Meet You in Hell is a valuable insight into the ideas and personalities that shaped American industrialization as well as an interesting parallel to a contemporary economic reality where American jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, are threatened and often lost to overseas labor. --John Moe

From Booklist

As witnessed here, Carnegie and Frick were both born to poverty and both became wealthy and powerful. Carnegie (1835-1919) and Frick (1849-1919) amassed fortunes in the steel industry and donated millions of dollars for the benefit of the public. Their business practices and the principles they embodied not only made them the industrial potentates of their time but continue to influence boardroom and labor relations practices to this day. But the Homestead steel strike in 1892 led to the bloodiest conflict between management and labor in the U.S. history and was the beginning of the end of the legendary Carnegie-Frick alliance. Standiford, the author of 14 previous books, brings his writerly experience to bear on this intriguing account of these two men's lives and of the industrial growth of the U.S. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400047676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400047673
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We live in a time where it's hard to comprehend the wealth, power, and influence wielded by men like Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Vanderbilt. Folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett carry only a whisper of the Goliath stature that was attained by a select few in the 1800s.

"Meet You in Hell" is Les Standiford's telling of the story of the rise and fall of a relationship between two such men, Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. Frick, the lesser known of the two, created an empire of his own in coke production (the steel-making input, not the soda or the drug) before being swallowed up by Carnegie Steel and agreeing to run that entire operation for Carnegie.

Carnegie was a man accustomed to getting his own way, but his new employee Frick possessed his own ideas on how a company should be run. The differences between the two surfaced occassionally early in their relationship, and were tested further by the Homestead Mill strike in 1890s which ended in the deaths of many strikers and Pinkerton detectives.

This conflict is the true focus of this book, but interestingly doesn't come across as the watershed in the relationship between Carnegie and Frick that Standiford really wants it to be for the sake of his book. That honor comes later, when Frick tries to trick Carnegie into selling his company to a secret group of speculators with a terrible reputation on Wall Street.

This book is still quite an interesting story about the Homestead strike, labor relations in the industrial age, and the realtionship between two titans of industry, but the stories don't mesh the way Standiford sets you up to believe they will.
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Format: Paperback
"Meet You In Hell" tells the fascinating stories of Steel King Andrew Carnegie and Coke King Henry Clay Frick and their interactions which shaped much of American Industrial history. It begins with sections on their personal and business backgrounds. It explains how their careers became intertwined as Frick's coke company became a primary supplier to Carnegie Steel. The breaking point of their relationship was the riot at the Homestead Mill, which was opposed by Frick while Carnegie remained in Scotland. Thereafter they became bitter rivals to their deaths.

As readers of my Amazon reviews are aware, I am an avid reader of history. This, while being history, is neither political nor military and, thereby, provides a different insight into forces which molded our nation.

Two ways that I evaluate books is by whether they teach me things that I did not know or if they do whet my appetite to read more on the subject. "Meet You In Hell" scores well on both tests. I was aware that Pinkerton agents were often used by management in labor disputes. The narrative dealing with the Battle of Homestead illustrates just how violent those disputes were. I had often seen Carnegie Libraries, but I did not realize that he was so resented among the laboring classes. After reading this I cannot wait until I can read another book on Industrial History. Any book that can ace both of these tests merits high marks.
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Format: Hardcover
The dramatic centerpiece of Les Standiford's dual biography of Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick is the bloody clash between striking steelworkers and imported Pinkerton "detectives" at Carnegie's Homestead, PA plant in early July of 1892. Fourteen people were killed in that battle, and many more injured.

Homestead may have been the signature event in the intertwined careers of Carnegie and Frick, but Standiford's book makes clear that it was not the reason that their close partnership turned to bitter enmity and mutual recrimination. Their breakup came seven or eight years later over a disagreement concerning a proposed sale of the giant Carnegie firm to outside investors whose credentials and intentions were suspect.

Thus, while Standiford's account of the week-long Homestead crisis is cinematically vivid, it does not by itself tell the whole story of the two men's lives. Both were born dirt poor (Carnegie in Scotland, Frick in western Pennsylvania) and rose through the industrial ranks through their own strong ambition and financial cunning. They joined forces only when they found they needed each other. Carnegie was the top man, Frick the on-site chief operating officer.

Carnegie at least publicly claimed to support working men and their right to organize, but Frick was an unapologetic anti-union hardliner. When Homestead exploded in gunfire and mob violence, Carnegie, vacationing back in Scotland, gave Frick full support for whatever means he adopted to suppress the strikers and keep the company sound. Only after it was all over and the dead had been counted did Carnegie express some mild criticism of Frick's tactics.
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Format: Hardcover
This is well-covered territory for any avid student of steel's history: the rise of two great pillars of the steel industry, the focal event based on the bloody Homestead strike, and the increasingly bitter demise in the relationship between Frick and Carnegie that followed. The two preceding Amazon reviews provide excellent insight as to the value of the book and the character of the men.

Homestead produced, in final count, thrity-one deaths. The original clash, in early July 1892, just outside of Pittsburgh, killed a small number of men. One Pinkerton guard brashly shot himself in the head in front of his colleagues stuck in the barge rather than fall into the hands of the strikers. Carnegie -- by most accounts -- felt betrayed by Frick's hard-nosed handling of the Homestead crisis. Carnegie insisted, especially after the deaths of Pinkerton "police" and strking workers -- that he would have just let the plant stay idle, wait the strikers out, and offer them no reason to fight. Carnegie wanted to be loved; he dreamed that a worker might even say, "If only you had been here, this would not have happended." Frick would not have any of this. He had firm, well-entrenced ideas not only about his rights as a capitalist, but also in his skills and obligations as Carnegie's chief operating officer.

The book does best at constrasting these two men. In some respects they were very much alike. "Ruthless" is not too harsh a word to describe the manner in which they cut costs, built their networks of industries, and squeezed out minor players. They were the masters of the dominant network of the day, based on steel and rail. As entrepreneurs Carnegie may still have not found an equal, not even in Bill Gates, although there are some parallels in the lives and methods of the two men.
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