I agree with you, this is a very good read. My wife found it at the local library here in Mount Vernon a few months back and checked it out for me to read. Black does an excellent job of recounting the history of bamboo rod making in the US.
Interestingly, all the great fiberglass, graphite, and boron fly rod makers and designers have also just wanted to make enough to stay in business while making a modest living too. All we have to do is take a look at folks like Meiser, Burkheimer, Noburo or the high end fly rod companies to see this in operation in graphite in our time. Just like the top bamboo guys, the best in graphite face a lot of compitition from mass produced rods built with cheap labor along with pressure to increase their output.