“The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward by Michael W. Nagle

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The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward, 1811-1875 brings the Glided Age industrialist that became Michigan’s wealthiest resident and helped shaped the nation into the spotlight. Eber Brock Ward (1811–1875) began his career as a cabin boy on his uncle’s sailing vessels, but when he died in 1875, he was the wealthiest man in Michigan. His innovative business activities had Ward engaged in the steamboat, railroad, lumber, mining, and iron and steel industries. In 1864, his facility near Detroit became the first in the nation to produce steel using the more efficient Bessemer method.

Michael W. Nagle demonstrates how much of Ward’s success was due to his ability to vertically integrate his business operations, which were undertaken decades before other more famous moguls, such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. And yet, despite his countless successes, Ward’s life was filled with ruthless competition, labor conflict, familial dispute, and scandal. Nagle makes extensive use of Ward’s correspondence, business records, contemporary newspaper accounts, and other archival material to craft a balanced profile of this fascinating figure whose actions influenced the history and culture of the Great Lakes and beyond.

1 review for “The Forgotten Iron King of the Great Lakes: Eber Brock Ward by Michael W. Nagle

  1. bmort

    “One would think that these outlandish tales would make Eber Brock
    Ward and his role in pushing Michigan from an extractive economy
    into the Industrial Age unforgettable. But that’s not how it went. Author Michael W. Nagle shows how Ward fell
    into oblivion despite scandals and exploits that would make him Twitter-famous today. One bizarre tale follows
    another as he hops from shipping to mining to manufacturing to becoming Michigan’s richest man. As this bad-boy
    Horatio Alger raised his personal fortune, he also raised eyebrows and hackles. Ward may not have been
    remembered, but people who read Nagle’s book will never forget him.”
    – Joe Grimm, author of The Faygo Book (Wayne State University Press, 2008) and coauthor of Coney Detroit
    (Wayne State University Press, 2012)

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