PERSONAL: Married; children: twin sons.
High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
Frequent contributor to the New York Times.
SIDELIGHTS: In his first book, High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline, Jim Rasenberger recounts the history of the ironworker trade in New York City, with a focus on the men who traipsed across steel girders hundreds of feet above the teaming city. As he recounts the engineering and building of such structures as the Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the World Trade Center, Rasenberger delves into the reason why these ironworkers took on such a potentially hazardous occupation, which has a five-percent injury-and/or-death rate among workers each year. He notes that becoming an ironworker is often a family tradition steeped in pride and that many of the workers have come from the Mohawk tribe of upstate New York. In addition to recounting the building of successful structures like the Time Warner Center, the author also turns his focus on building projects that were not so successful, such as the Quebec Bridge, which collapsed.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor called High Steel, a "first-rate look at the majesty and danger of building modern cities." Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, commented that "Rasenberger's muscular portrait deserves an outsize audience." In a review in Library Journal, Scott H. Silverman wrote that the author "connects anecdotes of the … lives of contemporary ironworkers with riffs on construction economics, engineering, and union and business history." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the book "serves as a valuable history for building enthusiasts and a thoughtful testament to a dying craft that has helped fuel the American economy for more than a century."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline, p. 1251.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 168; December 15, 2004, review of High Steel, p. S6.
Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Scott H. Silverman, review of High Steel, p. 108.
Publishers Weekly, February 23, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 61.
Science News, May 29, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 351.