Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flesh And Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire And Its Legacy

Marrin, Albert. 2011. FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP: THE TRIANGLE FIRE AND ITS LEGACY. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9780375868894 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

Marrin’s gripping nonfiction book delves into the events surrounding the infamous Triangle Waist Company fire in New York City and its long-reaching effects on American labor rights. On a sunny March afternoon in 1911, the upper floors of the Asch Building burst into flames. Frantic shirtwaist workers became trapped between densely packed rows of sewing machines and gathered in groups against locked doors as the fire quickly spread. While some of the workers were lucky and managed to make their way to the elevators or the unlocked stairwells, 146 people died in the fire. Most of the victims were young girls, recent Italian and Russian immigrants, accustomed to working long hours for little pay under dangerous conditions. In the aftermath of the fire, wealthy social reformers joined forces with the embattled labor unions to create legislation we take for granted today.

The author thoroughly examines the social and economic factors that led to the Triangle factory fire. Eyewitness and survivor testimony, newspaper articles, and photographs provide evidence of the harrowing lives most New York workers endured at the turn of the century. Marrin weaves these sources into a detailed story of a tragedy that changed our country. Concluding chapters discuss the struggle for reform, current American labor laws, and unsafe working conditions around the world today. A detailed bibliography with pages of notes provides additional research sources for interested readers.

Pair this nonfiction book with fictional titles for a study of the Triangle fire and labor reform.

Fictional books about the Triangle fire:
Auch, Mary Jane. ASHES OF ROSES. ISBN 9780440238515
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. UPRISING. ISBN 9781416911722

By Kimberly C. Kinnaird

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