Mark Twain's boyhood home of Hannibal, Missouri, often brings to mind romanticized images of Twain's fictional characters Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer exploring caves and fishing from the banks of the Mississippi River. In City of Dust,
Gregg Andrews tells another story of the Hannibal area, the very real story of the exploitation and eventual destruction of Ilasco, Missouri, an industrial town created to serve the purposes of the Atlas Portland Cement Company.
In this new edition, Andrews provides an introduction detailing the impact of this book since its initial publication in 1996. He writes of a new twist in the Ilasco saga, one that concerns the Continental Cement Company’s attempt, not unlike Atlas’s one hundred years earlier, to manipulate the sale of a piece of land near its plant in the town. He explores the uneasy relationship between preservationists and the plant’s CEO and officials in St. Louis; the growing movement to preserve Ilasco’s heritage, including the building of a monument to commemorate the early residents of the town; and the grassroots petition drive and letter-writing campaign that stopped the Continental Cement Company’s machinations.