Kyle E. Ciani, Reviews Editor
Vision & Enterprise: Exploring the History of the Phelps Dodge Corporation.
By Carlos A. Schwantes. Tucson: University of Arizona Press and the Phelps Dodge Corporation, 2000. 464 Pages, photographs, notes, glossary, bibliography, index, $N.A. Hardcover.
This is a handsome, oversized and profusely illustrated, company history of the copper mining giant, the Phelps Dodge Corporation. It is by prizewinning western historian, Carlos Schwantes, author of a dozen books on the West. Vision and Enterprise will be of great interest to the general reader, as well as to the scholar. Schwantes covers the history of the company from its origins in 1834 to its present status as the largest publicly owned copper company in the world. Along the way he has both told the story of the company’s people, problems, achievements, as well as its contributions (large and small) to American history. For example, its copper wire helped bridge the continent in 1861 with the first transcontinental telegraph line; since its beginnings it has provided 60 million pounds of copper for the rivets in Levi’s jeans. This is standard official corporation history, developing the standard topics of corporate history. The author stresses the interaction of Phelps Dodge with technological changes, its labor history, and biographies of its key leaders. The author has drawn on the company’s previously inaccessible records, and has produced a very sympathetic history of one of America’s corporate giants.