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Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

2004 nonfiction book by David von Drehle

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Another tragedy that did not have to happen!!!!!,

  • Dec 12, 2008
Rating:
+3
Here's yet another book devoted to a tragedy in the opening decade of the twentieth century.  There have been a lot them lately and I have read several.   My chief criticism of "Triangle:  The Fire That Changed America" is that only about 1/3 of the text is actually devoted to discussing the fire itself.  I must say I was bit disappointed with this. The remainder of these pages are devoted to a discussion of the prevailing socio-economic conditions of the day as well as the political climate in the city of New York.  

To be sure, the hours were long and working conditions were deplorable.  Imagine working with 300-400 other individuals and having only one or two bathrooms available!!!   I have worked in the apparel industry myself as recently as a decade ago and saw conditions even then that made me shake my head.  I cannot imagine what it was like for those poor souls in factories in the days of totally unbridled capitalism!!!   Author David Von Drehle spends quite a bit of time discussing the emerging labor unrest and to the general strike that occurred about a year before the fire.  He introduces us to some of the key players in the struggle including Clara Lemlich, a young Russian immigrant who emerged as one of they key leaders of the movement.   We are also introduced to the owners of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Co. and to some of the key players on the New York City political scene including Robert Wagner, Alfred E. Smith and Frances Perkins. As is the case in most of these tragedies, this fire could have easily been avoided.  I was quite surprised to learn that by the 1880's most New England cotton mills were equipped with automatic sprinklers, firewalls and fireproof doors.  Thus, the technology was available but for purely financial reasons the owners of the Triangle chose not to install it.  Despite it's shortcomings "Triangle:  The Fire That Changed America"  is still a book worthy of your time and attention.   Recommended.
Another tragedy that did not have to happen!!!!!, Another tragedy that did not have to happen!!!!!, Another tragedy that did not have to happen!!!!!, Another tragedy that did not have to happen!!!!!,

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December 13, 2008
Thanks for the review.. this kind of stuff interests me...I think I'll have to add this to my long list of books to read..
 
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About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Wiki

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York's Greenwich Village. Within minutes it had spread to consume the building's upper three stories. Firemen who arrived at the scene were unable to rescue those trapped inside: their ladders simply weren't tall enough. People on the street watched in horror as desperate workers jumped to their death. The final toll was 146 people -- 123 of them women. It was the worst disaster in New York City history. This harrowing yet compulsively readable book is both a chronicle of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and a vibrant portrait of an entire age. It follows the waves of Jewish and Italian immigration that inundated New York in the early years of the century, filling its slums and supplying its garment factories with cheap, mostly female labor. It portrays the Dickensian work conditions that led to a massive waist-worker's strike in which an unlikely coalition of socialists, socialites, and suffragettes took on bosses, police, and magistrates. Von Drehle shows how popular revulsion at the Triangle catastrophe led to an unprecedented alliance between idealistic labor reformers and the supremely pragmatic politicians of the Tammany machine.


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Details

Author: David von Drehle
Genre: Company Profiles, Labor & Industrial Relations, Labor Policy, General, Business & Finance, United States

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