This pathbreaking book tells the dramatic story of a unique manufacturing complex and the city that it helped to create. The events recounted and interpreted by W. David Lewis are of more than local or regional significance. The rise of Sloss furnaces and Birmingham epitomized the emergence of the United States as the world's foremost economic power. Similarly, the closing of a once-profitable ironmaking installation amid social and technological changes that convulsed Birmingham nine decades after the city's founding typified challenges that were facing America at the dawn of the postindustrial age.
Above all, Sloss Furnaces resonates with the class of competition and the frenetic energy with which southerners joined other Americans in a rush to transform a continent after a fratricidal drive for independence had failed. The sweeping narrative that Lewis has produced amply justifies its subtitle, An Industrial Epic.