With a history as long and storied as Pittsburgh, it is of no surprise to me that many books have been written about its people and its events. Many of these titles I have actually read before, like Out Of This Furnace and Meet You In Hell. I am always on the hunt for new literature about my hometown, and this post was a fun one to put together. Here are 22 books about, or set, Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Guidebook
Pittsburgh is made up of more than ninety different neighborhoods, and while The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Guidebook doesn’t have room for all of them, it does its best, exploring the contrasts that exist between and within neighborhoods and how they play out in personal narratives. In these pages you’ll find essays about old Lawrenceville, nonfiction set in the Mon Valley, Wilkinsburg, and East Pittsburgh, and work by lifetime residents, transplants and transients.
The newest installment in Belt’s Neighborhood Guidebook Series, The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Guidebook is a book for anyone who thinks they know Pittsburgh, or just wishes they did.
Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
Nearly twenty years after his death, Fred Rogers remains a source of comfort and fond memories for generations who grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Over the course of his career, Rogers revolutionized children’s television and changed the way experts thought about the educational power of media. But perhaps his most lasting legacy was demonstrating the power of simply being nice to other people. In this collection of interviews, including his fiery (for him) 1969 senate testimony that saved PBS and his final interview with Diane Rehm, Rogers’s gentle spirit and compassionate approach to life continues to be an inspiration. An introduction by David Bianculli provides brilliantly contextualizes the interviews and offers a contemporary reading of Rogers’s storied career.
Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City
Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City follows Pittsburgh from its frontier beginnings through its evolution into the most heavily industrialized city in the world, to the city’s renewal of itself as “America’s Most Livable City.” This beautiful volume though, is much more than the story of a single city; it is the history of the United States.
This book is based on years of research and includes contributions by such noted American historians as Henry Steele Commager and Oscar Handlin. More than 1100 pictures recreate the city’s dramatic 200+year history. Featured are photographs by W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Norman W. Schumm, Lorant himself and others. A chronology of events from 1717 offers historical snapshots in the day to day life of the archetypical American city.
Take in the young, vibrant scene of a city on the rise and learn what it really means to be a Yinzer with Moon Pittsburgh. Inside you’ll find:
- Strategic itineraries
- The Top Sights and Unique Experiences
- Get a Taste of the City
- Bars and Nightlife
- Local insight from born and bred Pittsburgher Emily B. King
- Day trips from Pittsburgh
- Maps and Tools
With Moon Pittsburgh’s practical tips and local know-how, you can experience the best of the city.
The Whiskey Rebellion and the Rebirth of Rye
A short history of rye whiskey’s founding, floundering, and current flourishing in Pittsburgh. The book takes reader on a fun tour of the Whiskey Rebellion, the role of Pittsburgh robber barons in developing the rye industry, and the rebirth of craft distillery in the twentieth century. Includes an illustrated guide to making rye whiskey and recipes.
Meet You In Hell
The author of Last Train to Paradise tells the riveting story of Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the bloody steelworkers’ strike that transformed their fabled partnership into a furious rivalry. Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, Meet You in Hell captures the majesty and danger of steel manufacturing, the rough-and-tumble of the business world, and the fraught relationship between “the world’s richest man” and the ruthless coke magnate to whom he entrusted his companies. The result is an extraordinary work of popular history.
The Names of Pittsburgh
Bob Regan once again mines the rich vein of Pittsburgh’s history by continually finding new lenses through which to view the past. His previous two books—”The Steps of Pittsburgh” and “The Bridges of Pittsburgh”—were received with acclaim, drawing fans from the Pittsburgh diaspora around the world. Undoubtedly, “The Names of Pittsburgh” will do the same as Regan explores the names of the men and women—not to mention scientific paraphernalia, patents, astronomical terms, grape varietals, et al.—from the region’s history which dot the landscape. Each provides a segue into a broader discussion of some aspect of Pittsburgh’s past. The book is accompanied by 100 photos, maps, and illustrations, most of them historic. It also includes 10 maps suggesting areas for independent exploration of “The Names of Pittsburgh”.
Today the City of Pittsburgh has more municipal inclines than any other U.S. city and more city steps and bridges that any other city in the world. Undoubtedly the most unique of these transportation solutions is the city steps. Pittsburgh has hundreds of streets complete with street signs, and often times houses, that are composed entirely of steps.Pittsburgh Steps is part historical record for the armchair climber and part guided for active step trekkers.
Left alone to care for his aging father after his mother dies by suicide and his sister escapes to Yale, Isaac English longs for a life beyond his hometown, a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town. But when he finally sets out to leave for good, accompanied by his temperamental best friend, former high school football star Billy Poe, they are caught up in a terrible act of violence that changes their lives forever.
Evoking John Steinbeck’s novels of restless lives during the Great Depression, American Rust takes us into the contemporary American heartland at a moment of profound unrest and uncertainty about the future. It is a dark but lucid vision, a moving novel about the bleak realities that battle our desire for transcendence and the power of love and friendship to redeem us.
Ghosts of the Golden Triangle
In Volume 2, author Mord McGhee has written a relentless, suspenseful adventure which chronicles an unprecedented apocalyptic war where technology trumps the supernatural. Inventive, unique, masterful prose, and scary insight into the human condition. Dark, futuristic landscapes set against the industrial past of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s not dystopia to think history will repeat itself. Discover why Brad Meltzer, Steve Alten, Loren Coleman, Adam Davies, Thomas Sweterlitsch, and more have shouted out McGhee’s work, as an upcoming heavy weight in the world of literature.
Rigs and Eclipse are back, in this wicked, machine gun of a read. Illuminati, Templar, Mason? To what end will the dark entities hunting Eclipse go? A must-read for all fans of science fiction, cyberpunk, dystopian, and more!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.
A years-long #1 New York Times bestseller, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and Best Book for Reluctant Readers, and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.
A Little Girl in Old Pittsburg
Grandfather Carrick had come out of his cottage and stood in the small yard place that a young oak had nearly filled with a carpet of leaves. He was a medium-sized man with reddish hair streaked with white, and a spare reddish beard, rather ragged, bright blue eyes and a nose retroussé at the best, but in moments of temper or disdain it turned almost upside down, as now.
“What is he sayin’. Well, it’s a dirty black lee! Lord Cornwallis isn’t the man to give in to a rabble of tatterdemalions with not a shoe to their feet an’ hardly a rag to their back! By the beard of St. Patrick they’re all rags!” and he gave an insolent laugh! “It’s a black lee, I tell you!”
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Art Bechstein may be too young to know what he wants to do with his life, but he knows what he doesn’t want: the life of his father, a man who laundered money for the mob. He spends the summer after graduation finding his own way, experimenting with a group of brilliant and seductive new friends: erudite Arthur Lecomte, who opens up new horizons for Art; mercurial Phlox, who confounds him at every turn; and Cleveland, a poetry-reciting biker who pulls him inevitably back into his father’s mobbed-up world.
The Gospel of Wealth
The main focus of this collection of essays is however on The Gospel of Wealth, in which Carnegie outlines his philosophy of philanthropy. He was aware that the United States in the late nineteenth century had produced a great number of self-made super-rich industrialists, like himself, and was concerned that they would waste their new found wealth through extravagance and instead urges everyone to think of and assist those less fortunate than ourselves.
The following essays within the book cover a wide variety of topics that Carnegie was interested in from labor rights to imperialism, relations between Britain and America to the value of trusts. Each one is a fascinating insight into the opinions of a brilliant nineteenth century business leader who held views which are still relevant in the modern day.
Out of This Furnace
The novel begins in the mid-1880s with the naive blundering career of Djuro Kracha. It tracks his arrival from the old country as he walked from New York to White Haven, his later migration to the steel mills of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and his eventual downfall through foolish financial speculations and an extramarital affair. The second generation is represented by Kracha’s daughter, Mary, who married Mike Dobrejcak, a steel worker. Their decent lives, made desperate by the inhuman working conditions of the mills, were held together by the warm bonds of their family life, and Mike’s political idealism set an example for the children. Dobie Dobrejcak, the third generation, came of age in the 1920s determined not to be sacrificed to the mills. His involvement in the successful unionization of the steel industry climaxed a half-century struggle to establish economic justice for the workers.
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol claimed that he loved being outside a party—so that he could get in. But more often than not, the party was at his own studio, The Factory, where celebrities—from Edie Sedgwick and Allen Ginsberg to the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground—gathered in an ongoing bash.
A loosely formed autobiography, told with his trademark blend of irony and detachment, this compelling and eccentric memoir riffs and reflects on all things Warhol: New York, America, and his childhood in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, as well as the explosion of his career in the sixties, and his life among the rich and famous.
Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less. This is a modern classic, a book that deals with the impossibly difficult themes of race in America, set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.
Ride the Wild Pony and other stories from 57 Steuben Street
“Ride the Wild Pony” is Jim Gambone’s memoirs of the first five-and-a-half years of his life (1945–1951) growing up in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, Pittsburgh tenement with his extended family, which included: a Polish immigrant grandmother who was a “moonshiner” and numbers bookie; his mother and father; and an uncle, aunt, and their German shepherd, Happy.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Pittsburgh is John Dominic Blaxton’s home even though the city has been uninhabitable ruin and ash for the past decade. The Pittsburgh Dominic lives in is the Archive, an immersive virtual reconstruction of the city’s buildings, parks, and landmarks, as well as the people who once lived there. Including Dominic’s wife and unborn child.
When he’s not reliving every recorded moment with his wife in an endless cycle of desperation and despair, Dominic investigates mysterious deaths preserved in the Archive before Pittsburgh’s destruction. His latest cold case is the apparent murder of a woman whose every appearance is deliberately being deleted from the Archive.
Obsessed with uncovering this woman’s identity and what happened to her, Dominic follows a trail from the virtual world into reality. But finding the truth buried deep within an illusion means risking his sanity and his very existence…
The Johnstown Girls
Ellen Emerson may be the last living survivor of the Johnstown flood. She was only four years old on May 31, 1889, when twenty million tons of water decimated her hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Thousands perished in what was the worst natural disaster in U.S. history at the time. As we witness in The Johnstown Girls, the flood not only changed the course of history, but also the individual lives of those who survived it.
A century later, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporters Ben Bragdon and Nina Collins set out to interview 103-year-old Ellen for Ben’s feature article on the flood. When asked the secret to her longevity, Ellen simply attributes it to “restlessness.” As we see, that restlessness is fueled by Ellen’s innate belief that her twin sister Mary, who went missing in the flood, is somehow still alive. Her story intrigues Ben, but it haunts Nina, who is determined to help Ellen find her missing half.
All About Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente became a baseball icon because of his talent and compassion, and how he overcame prejudices. He was drafted from Puerto Rico, where he spoke Spanish, when he was just eighteen. At first fans laughed at his Spanish accent and some even disliked him for the color of his skin.
Roberto worked hard to learn English and improve his baseball skills. He became one of the game’s greatest hitters while he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the first Latin American player to have 3,000 hits and his legacy of kindness and record breaking continues to inspire players.