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Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy Hardcover – February 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, January 17, 2011:
"Published to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the 1911 fire that erupted in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, this powerful chronicle examines the circumstances surrounding the disaster...Marrin's message that protecting human dignity is our shared responsibility is vitally resonant."

Starred Review, Booklist, April 1, 2011:
"Sure to spark discussion, this standout title concludes with source notes and suggested-reading lists that will lead students to further resources for research and debate."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, May 2011:
"The writing is compelling and detailed, and the author effectively manages to bridge the gap between detached expository writing and emotionally charged content...this is a useful and thoughtful addition to any American history collection."

About the Author

ALBERT MARRIN is the author of numerous highly regarded nonfiction books for young readers, including Years of Dust; The Great Adventure: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America; and Sitting Bull and His World. His many honors include the Washington Children's Book Guild and Washington Post Non-Fiction Award for an "outstanding lifetime contribution that has enriched the field of children's literature," the James Madison Book Award for lifetime achievement, and the National Endowment for Humanities Medal.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1000L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375868895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375868894
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Marrin is an award winning author of over 40 books for young adults and young readers and four books of scholarship. These writings were motivated by the fact that as a teacher, first in a junior high school in New York City for nine years and then as professor of history and chairman of the history department at Yeshiva University until he retired to become a full time writer, his paramount interest has always been to make history come alive and accessible for young people.

Winner of the 2008 National Endowment for Humanities Medal for his work, which was presented at the White House, was given "for opening young minds to the glorious pageant of history. His books have made the lessons of the past come alive with rich detail and energy for a new generation."

Dr. Marrin's numerous other awards include the Washington Post Childrens'Book Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the James Madison Award for Lifetime Achievement, several Horn Book awards by the Boston Globe, consistently appearing on the best book of the year lists of the American Library Association, frequent recognition by Book Lists, and the Western Heritage Award for best juvenile nonfiction book presented at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame among others.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Friday, March 25 is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Fire, one of the worst industrial disasters in American history. Quite a few books for young people have been published on the topic, both historical fiction and non-fiction. The most recent, just released this spring by award-winning non-fiction writer Albert Marrin, brings the tragic events of that spring afternoon to life by setting the fire in a sweeping historical narrative that encompasses not only the events that led up to the fire, but what happened afterwards.

In a moving preface, Marrin sets the stage for the disaster, describing the beautiful spring day as would have been experienced by Frances Perkins, then a 31-year old social worker (later the first female cabinet member under FDR) who witnessed the disaster first-hand, changing the course of her life forever as she became committed to ensuring that such preventable tragedies would never happen again.

As Marrin points out, the Triangle Fire is part of a much larger story--the story of the greatest mass immigration in history, when millions of impoverished immigrants, mostly Italians and Russian Jews, poured into New York City and elsewhere. More than 3 out of 4 people lived in poverty, and work in factories and elsewhere was often dangerous--with no safety net such as we take for granted today. In some detail, with abundant archival photographs and maps, he discusses the reasons this immigration took place, with extreme poverty and natural disasters (including a devastating tsumani in Sicily) forcing millions of Italians to leave their homeland, while poverty and religious hatred pushed the Jews from Russia's Pale of Settlement.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen A. Baxter on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have read a few books about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, but this one covers more than any other and is a riveting, compelling read to top it off. I was stunned to see a photo of a young Frances Perkins--destined to become the first female U.S. Cabinet member under Franklin Roosevelt. She saw the fire. I had no idea at all of her impressive background. And Al Smith? A name, a photo, too-bad-for-him a Catholic. Well, he probably would have made a fine president.
There are so many photographs here, so many stories of real people, especially focusing on the southern Italian and the eastern European Jewish people, both of whom were fleeing oppression and poverty and willing to work under horrendous conditions to make a living in the land of opportunity.
There are descriptions of the forces that led to massive immigration, of early attempts to organize workers, and of the workers themselves. The last chapter describes horrendous working conditions in third world countries today--and provokes questions about the non-black-and-white problems they raise. Is working for tiny pay in ghastly conditions better than being maimed or blinded and forced to beg in the streets? Or prostitution?
This is an excellent book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I write the Non-Fiction Booktalker column in School Library Journal and have co-written six books about book-talking nonfiction to children.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on February 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having once read Upton Sinclair's novel THE JUNGLE -- published six years before the Triangle Fire -- I was not very surprised by much of what I read in FLESH & BLOOD SO CHEAP about the outrageous conditions faced by workers who lived and died in New York's garment industry.

But the recounting of the actual Triangle Fire is but a tiny corner of Albert Marrin's tour de force about the origins of the late-nineteenth century new wave of immigration; the related immigrant experience; the history of Manhattan's fashion industry; the evolution of American manufacturing; the height of New York City's Tammany-era and, most importantly, how government evolved in response to the demand to protect workers and consumers from all-powerful business interests who treated humans like so many cattle.

Albert Marrin does all this in 192 pages that include nearly one hundred photographs of life in early-twentieth century New York and extensive back matter.

In the process we meet many characters with whom I have some familiarity -- such as Frances Perkins, Al Smith, Jacob Riis, Fiorello La Guardia, and Robert Wagner -- along with others who made significant contributions, such as Clara Lenlich, Mary Dreier, Alva Belmont, and Little Rose Schneiderman. And I learned all about cutters and shtarkers and pogroms, and shleppers, and the Hester Street Pigmarket.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CC Thomas on February 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City occurred on March 25, 1911, and was the deadliest work disaster until the destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001. The details about that day are stunning: 146 workers died, most young immigrant women; many leaped to their death from ten floors up rather than being burned alive; no one man or business was ever charged with wrongdoing concerning the fire--indeed, the owners collected heavily on the insurance; on the day of the funeral, nearly 400,000 watched the procession; the funeral procession lasted almost 6 hours. And, as horrific as those images and words are, the living and working condition of the American worker at that time in history is even more so.

This is more than just a story of a workplace tragedy and the factory conditions that caused it. This is a story of immigrant America and all those women whose hard work allows me the freedom I have today. This is more than a good book to read--it is an important book to read and to recommend and to remember. The author did an incredible job of tying together a tapestry of important political and historical threads in order to make the story so much more relevant. I've read several books and articles about this topic but none touched me so deeply as this one.

After reading about the social and living conditions of those immigrants, it seems so very spoiled to complain about Social Security, pension, work breaks, etc. How soon, as a nation, we forget our history. This book very clearly establishes what unions were created for--the protection of the workers and while I was not necessarily pro-union before reading this book, now I very much more understand the great need there has been for a unionized work force.
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