Friday, April 1, 2011

Flesh and Blood So Cheap : the Triangle Fire and Its Legacy


Flesh and Blood So Cheap : the Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
Albert Marrin
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011. 192 pages. Nonfiction.

The Triangle Fire of March 25, 1911 was New York's deadliest work-place fire until 9/11. It occurred in a sweatshop, the Triangle Waist Company, that occupied the eighth and ninth floors of a ten story building. One hundred and forty six people died within minutes, mostly young women between the ages of 14 and 27 who were recent immigrants from Italy and Russia. Though the fire and the events surrounding it are described in well documented detail, it is not the only focus of this book. Marrin puts this horrific event in a historical context, starting with why the Italians and Russian Jews emigrated in such large numbers at the turn of the century, and what life was like in the United States for them. He tells about the positive changes that came about for workers and for women in the aftermath of the Triangle Fire, but also explains how these changes allowed organized crime to control the garment industry. The final chapter discusses the return of the sweatshop both in the U.S. and in developing countries, and the arguments for and against them. Fascinating period photos are abundant throughout the book that connect the reader to the events, people and places written about. Also included are a substantial bibliography, comprehensive notes, and a detailed index.

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