Historical Look at a Steel Industry Giant - Humboldt State Now

Historical Look at a Steel Industry Giant

Humboldt State University Press is pleased to announce its newest publication, “American Prometheus: Carnegie’s Captain, Bill Jones,” a historical memoir of Captain Bill Jones, whose inventions and innovations transformed America’s steelmaking industry.

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“American Prometheus.”
Captain Bill Jones built and supervised the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, which in its first five years advanced to the rank of the world’s most productive and profitable steel mill. His “hands-on, all over” style solved production problems on the spot, enlisted baseball teams from the Works’ departments to defuse ethnic strife, promoted the eight-hour work day, and patented inventions, including the Jones Hot Metal mixer, which revolutionized the steelmaking industry, all while turning down Carnegie’s offers of partnership.

A fusion of historical narrative and family memoir, this account of Jones’ life as a founding key figure in post-Civil War America’s Second Industrial Revolution, as hero of the Civil War and the Johnstown Flood, and as a philanthropist in his own right, is narrated by none other than Bill Jones’ great-grandson. HSU Emeritus Professor Tom Gage moves beyond the role of biographer and storyteller to delve into extensive research that traces Jones’ relationship to the steel magnate and ultimately explores the mysteries posed by family lore.

The author will donate proceeds from the sale of the book to fund the Salaam Cultural Museum of Seattle which provides humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict and natural disaster within the Middle East/North African region, and seeks to bring cultures and people together to build bridges of understanding.

During his tenure in HSU’s English Department, Gage founded the Redwood Writing Project, the second-oldest National Writing Project in the country, and established a master’s program in the Teaching of Writing. He is a Fulbright scholar who taught in Aleppo, Syria and has also taught in China, Turkey, and Greece. He continues an active teaching and lecturing schedule at the HSU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Program and at colleges and conferences around the country and abroad. He chaired the International Youth Platform for the Gülen Institute from 2010-2015. Among his most recent publications are “Gűlen’s Dialogue on Education: a Caravanserai of Ideas,” (Cune Press, 2014) and “Biblical Time Out of Mind: Myths, Maps, and Memories,” co-authored with James Freeman (Cune Press, 2016).

HSU Emeritus Professor of Botany Robert Rasmussen had this to say about “American Prometheus.”

“A ‘must read’ for the American history buff with an interest in the era of the giant industrialist. Professor Gage has used all the usual resources, many unusual resources, and the oral history of his own family to tell the story of his great-grandfather, Captain Bill Jones, the engineering genius behind the steel empire of Andrew Carnegie.

“There are two stories here: the story of Bill Jones and Andrew Carnegie and the story of how Dr. Gage came to investigate and to write about the life and death of Bill Jones. The story of Jones and Carnegie is one of craft and craftiness, of conceit and deceit, of compassion and indifference. The author’s personal story of his research into the life and death of Captain Jones has overtones of a popular mystery novel.”

About Humboldt State University Press

Humboldt State University Press publishes high-quality scholarly, intellectual, and creative works by or in support of the HSU campus community. HSU Press operations and publications support the HSU mission and vision to improve the human condition and our environment by promoting understanding of social, economic, and environmental issues. All electronic publications are available on the Digital Commons platform, a network which brings together free, electronic scholarly texts from hundreds of universities and colleges around the world.

“American Prometheus: Carnegie’s Captain, Bill Jones,” is also available on Amazon.

For questions or further information about Humboldt State University Press, please contact HSU Scholarly Communications and Digital Scholarship Librarian, Kyle Morgan at 707.826.5602.