Rasenberger, Jim 1962-
Rasenberger, Jim 1962-
Born August 30, 1962; married; children: twin sons.
High Steel: The Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
America, 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T, and the Making of a Modern Nation, Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, Wilson, and other publications.
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 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-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."
Rasenberger's next effort, America, 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T, and the Making of a Modern Nation, offers readers a pop culture take on the year 1908. By describing the various technological advances of the year, as well as the ways in which the country as a whole reacted to them, Rasenberger is able to paint a picture of both the mood of the country and the progress the United States was making as a major world power. He chronicles such important events as the first flight of the Wright broth- ers, the invention of Henry Ford's Model T automobile, and the race by numerous explorers to be the first man to reach the North Pole. But Rasenberger also looks at other, less technical advancements, such as the introduction of the sexy sheath dress abroad, and important milestones, such as the end of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. Blair Parsons, in a review for Booklist, observed of Rasenberger that "he takes numerous events that upon first glance are seemingly disparate and weaves the narrative of a year." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked of the book: "It may not be fool-proof—some readers may find color and texture, others nagging digression—but it's continually engaging." Library Journal reviewer Frederick J. Augustyn dubbed the book "an engaging work of popular history."
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; September 15, 2007, Blair Parsons, review of America, 1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model T, and the Making of a Modern Nation, p. 18.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 168; December 15, 2004, review of High Steel, p. S6; September 15, 2007, review of America, 1908.
Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Scott H. Silverman, review of High Steel, p. 108; September 15, 2007, Frederick J. Augustyn, review of America, 1908, p. 71.
Publishers Weekly, February 23, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 61.
Science News, May 29, 2004, review of High Steel, p. 351.