About John Hoerr
Hoerr was born and raised in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a steelmaking town in the heavily-industrialized Monongahela Valley south of Pittsburgh. Growing up in the 1940s, he absorbed the culture of a one-industry town as it moved from depression to postwar prosperity and, like many young men of his generation, worked brief periods in the local mill while attending college. Forty years later, in And the Wolf Finally Came, Hoerr drew on this background to describe the devastation and misery left behind when more than a dozen major mills closed in the steel heartland of western Pennsylvania. Historian Donald L. Miller of Lafayette College, reviewing the book in the Philadelphia Inquirer, said: “Hoerr has the eye and ear of a field anthropologist, and this is a deeply moving account of the human consequences of the most spectacular industrial collapse of modern times. But it also is a closely detailed, cooly perceptive analysis—the most complete and convincing so far—of the reasons for that collapse” (“Death Knell for Steel,” August 21, 1988).
A 1953 graduate of Penn State, Hoerr served two years in the U.S. Army. Starting in 1956, he worked as a reporter at several organizations, including United Press International in New Jersey and Chicago, a daily newspaper in Michigan, and WQED-TV, the PBS station in Pittsburgh. From 1960-on, he specialized as a labor reporter in three separate stints at Business Week, in Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York, where he served as labor editor and, finally, senior writer. Leaving the magazine in 1991, Hoerr became a free-lance writer, producing the books named here. He and his wife Joanne have two sons and five grandchildren.