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Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Transformed America Hardcover – May 10, 2005
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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
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
Top customer reviews
The author treats the events and characters evenly, with granularity, especially in the famous incident at Homestead.
These two left legacies that can still be found in many cities, and they made remarkable contributions to New York.
Standiford well and in depth describes their intricate and engaging yet tragic relationship with primary focus on the Homestead Strike and Massacre of June 1892.
Frick was head of the Carnegie Steel Co and had decided NOT to accede to the Union's demands under all circumstances. He locked out the workers and had employed Pinkerton agents to secure the mill and plant so non union people could replace the Union workers. There was a confrontation that led to 12 killed and 23 wounded. Carnegie had supported a lockout only without the use of force as well as supporting Frick's decisions. Eventually Frick prevailed and essentially ended the Union's power until the 1930's. He also created a negative image of himself and Carnegie that endured until and beyond their deaths in1919.
The deviousness of Frick driven by his need for more and more power and money conflicted with Carnegie's own need to remain the most powerful and wealthy person in the USA. Carnegie seemed more atuned to the negative energy attributed to him and devoted many years to charitable endeavors eg he funded nearly 2800 libraries, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.
His vast fortune nearly $400 million in 1901 (approx $30 Billion today) was used in part to fund major initiatives for the good of others. Frick was less wealthy but did leave the Frick museum and collection to the world as well as an substantial endowment.
All these good deeds did not mitigate some of anger related to the means that were used to amass these fortunes.
Their falling out was caused by their stubborness and egos. Carnegie did reach out in 1915 with a missive delivered by a confidante of Carnegie's who waited for Frick's response: "Tell him I will meet him in Hell".
Engaging read as we live with so many of their gifts to our world and to some of the curses of Big business.
Frick's ire was, after all, legendary. He'd gone toe to toe with strikers, assassins and even Carnegie himself, and had rarely met a grudge he could not hold.
Max Weber argued, the concept of working in order to live was reversed. In an industrialized society, man now lived in order to work. And the surest indication of "good" work was the amassing of wealth.
So while Carnegie could be ruthless in his pursuit of material success, he could be equally passionate in the defense of justice for the common man.
Carnegie might have explained that he was only trying to live up to one of his more famous dicta: "The man who dies rich, dies disgraced".