Books by Jr. Schreiner

HENRY CLAY FRICK by Jr. Schreiner
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: April 27, 1995

A flat account of America's Gilded Age and the life of one of its major players. Frick (18491919) was born to a respectable middle- class farming family in Pennsylvania. He announced at a very young age that he planned to be worth a million dollars before he died, and by the time he was 30, he had more than achieved this early ambition. Frick entered the business world at age 14, working in his uncle's general store. At 17, he moved to the exciting young industrial city of Pittsburgh and became a salesman of trimmings for ladies' apparel, later taking a job as bookkeeper at his grandfather's distillery. It was not until Frick was 21 that he began working toward his financial goal in earnest. He learned of the coke business through his cousin, Abraham Overholt Tintsman, who saw no prospects for the coal by- product. But Frick grasped the potential in coke, which could be used in the steel-making process. Thanks to the railroad boom, steel rails were much in demand—a fact that men like Andrew Carnegie used to their great advantage. Frick convinced his cousin that they should buy more coal land and build more ovens to produce the coke that Carnegie needed, and in 1872 H.C. Frick and Company came into existence. The firm weathered the recession of 1873 and eventually merged with Carnegie's steel works; Frick managed the whole conglomeration. Schreiner (A Place Called Princeton, 1984) devotes much of his book to the disputes between Frick and Carnegie, and the careers of the period's great businessmen, giving Frick himself fairly short shrift. The magnate is presented as an austere man, a brilliant manager who was hard on workers, and representative of the early success and great wealth, allied with a sense of civic duty, typical of his time, but the text never delves very deeply into his character. A dry, sterile tale. Read full book review >
CODE OF CONDUCT by Jr. Alvarez
NON-FICTION
Released: Dec. 16, 1991

What it was like to return to civilian life after eight and a half years as a POW, told blandly by Alvarez (Chained Eagle, YA, 1989—not reviewed), with help from Schreiner (A Place Called Princeton, 1984, etc.). Alvarez was the first US flyer shot down in Vietnam, and on his return in 1973 he was welcomed as so many Vietnam vets were- -finding himself alone (his wife divorced him during his captivity), living behind ``a plexiglass emotional shield'' in a country so divided that he was at odds with his mother and antiwar activist sister. His tale here is one of reconstruction and success, lacking the intensity, drama, and terror of most veterans' memoirs because Alvarez seems first and foremost a tough, levelheaded man, a survivor who was recognized in prison as a leader and a source of strength. An engineer by training, later an attorney, he took his role as an officer and his code of conduct with ultimate seriousness, he says, and was sustained by them. (He notes that POWs as a group did well in readjusting to civilian life.) The profound disruption and deep reassessments one expects are not here; nor is Alvarez's Hispanic heritage a prevailing concern. Far more prominent are his natural gravitation to high circles of power and his long relationship with President and Nancy Reagan and their associates. With his obvious capabilities, conservative bent, and practicality, Alvarez shrugs off misunderstandings (including a funny one with agent Swifty Lazar) and gets on with his life, first as deputy director of the Peace Corps, then in a similar position in the Veterans Administration, then as a Beltway entrepreneur. What we don't get is any close scrutiny of the how and why of Vietnam and its deeper effects on either veterans or this country. Lifeless prose in a memoir that also lacks the excitement, drive, and focus of self-discovery. (Photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >