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Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy Hardcover – February 8, 2011
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Marrin opens with a bare bones account of the fire and a brief glimpse of life in New York City around the early twentieth century. But to understand the fire and its context, one must first understand the people and the social conditions involved. So Marrin backs up his story to explore the lives of immigrants - mostly Italians and Russian Jews, particularly women and girls - who made up the bulk of the menial labor force in the garment industry around the turn of the century. Due to economic and political pressures in their own countries, these immigrants were pressed to venture to America with little more than the clothes on their backs and the money for their fare. They endured harsh conditions only to find a new life of hardship packed tightly into the tenements of New York City. But this new life, as hard as it was, offered relative safety and opportunity for advancement not to be had in the Old World, so they worked hard and made the most of it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating book. It covered the Triangle Fire but also the rise of the labor unions and how immigrants changed the face of America. Highly recommend it as a social history. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Janice K.
An excellent concise history of a tragic fire that followed shortly after the equally tragic Newark Factory Fire. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Charlotte Caniche
The school give this book as redding work for summer. My 11 year old and my self like a lot this book because bring part of history that happen in NY that we know very little. Read morePublished on August 21, 2014 by Brenda C. Rodriguez
I enjoyed it but it's written almost as a children's book but not sold as a children's book unless I missed something in the fine print...Published on July 6, 2014 by Kangi
This is a must read for anyone in the industrial safety business or even just office safety. This explains the tragedy that led to lighted exit signs and fire escapes.Published on June 9, 2014 by Paul