Friday, October 4, 2013

BOOK REVIEW - Ghost Rails X Iron Phantoms, by Wayne A. Cole

Someone posted something about this book on the yahoo Steel Group a week or so ago.    There was some sort of link given but you had to order it the old fashioned way - send a check via US Mail to the author.  The price tag, $65 was steep, but when you compare it with a Morning Sun $60 book, and this is twice the size, and the nice cover shot, I decided to take a shot and sent out a check.  Of course a few people posted that they couldn't find the book on Amazon  - so I guess it must not exist then?  I too would prefer to send my hard earned money to a massive corporation instead of directly to the author.  duh.    The book arrived quickly, in about a week from when I mailed the check - not bad at all.    Now the review - this book is clearly the best book about all facets of the operation of an integrated steel mill out there.   My old favorite, Bethlehem Steel, by Bartholomew and Young is now my second favorite, although Bethlehem Steel is still my favorite steel mill.  Ghost Rails .   is 336 pages full of photos and lengthy descriptive captions to go with them.  Mostly black and white, with a section of color photos, some of the photos are a little grainy, but the range of coverage of the Jones and Laughlin Aliquippa Mill is mind boggling.  Solid detailed information throughout and tons of photos of mill exteriors and interiors, rolling stock, locomotives, cranes, equipment, vehicles, boats,....etc...  The author must have a lot of spare time to put together such a complete tome.   The book is self published so the page layout isn't as slick as some books, but who cares, I want content not fluff.      Again, to compare it to the Beth Steel book -   Beth Steel has some incredible photos and great informative captions to go with it, but the subject matter is all over the place to the point of being disorganized and hard to go back and find something.  There are also parts of the Bethlehem mill not even covered.    The author of Ghost Rails X,  Wayne A. Cole, has approached his coverage of the J&L Aliquippa plant as I had hoped a book would have for a long time - he organized it into sections about different mills, yards, and geographic locations within the plant.    He starts usually with an excellent aerial photo and track and building map, and then breaks down into individual buildings, cranes, acid tanks, etc...    I'll be looking through this book for the next month probably.    After working a 14 hour day, this book was a pleasant surprise when I arrived home, sort of that Christmas Day feeling from when you were young.    Get it -    You can go to  for a preview and ordering info, but you will still have to get out the checkbook and a stamp.  

No comments: