Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

by David von Drehle


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“Sure to become the definitive account of the fire. . . . Triangle is social history at its best, a magnificent portrayal not only of the catastrophe but also of the time and the turbulent city in which it took place.” —The New York Times Book Review

Triangle is a poignantly detailed account of the 1911 disaster that horrified the country and changed the course of twentieth-century politics and labor relations. On March 25, 1911, as workers were getting ready to leave for the day, a fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. Within minutes it 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 deaths. The final toll was 146 people—123 of them women. It was the worst disaster in New York City history. Triangle is a vibrant and immensely moving account that Bob Woodward calls, “A riveting history written with flare and precision.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802141514
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 09/09/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 340
Sales rank: 105,468
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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Triangle 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
KnitKicky More than 1 year ago
Covers not only the fire incident but the context of the political, labor rights and social scene in New York at the turn of the century. Recommended for readers who enjoy hisory told with an admixture of personal stories; or anyone interested in labor movements in the US.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was actually a really good book. It didn't just talk about the fire. It talked about everything from the strikes to the fire to the actual trial. I had no idea about this part of history. Just to see how different it was back then, and to see how much society has changed over the years.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book doesn't just cover the headline grabbing Triangle fire, it goes into the before, during, and after the tragic event. Tammany Hall politics, the massive influx of immigrants into New York, the women's labor movement, and the progressive movement all coverge with this event. Afterwords, power was shifted forever and many careers were made and lost due to these events. This book draws together this slice of social history in New York city very well. I highly recommend it.
historybuff2 More than 1 year ago
. This is an excellent, well researched, well written book. The author was able to capture the attitudes, the political wars and the life of the immigrants at the turn of century in NYC.. He was able to show how the unsafe, filthy working conditions in this era set the stage for the unions/strikes and how difficult it was for the worker to bring about any change. It took a tragedy to open peoples eyes to the terrible conditions that these workers had to endure . The Triangle Fire was not the first tragedy brought on my unsafe working conditions and it was not the last, however, it was the catalyst that began the changes. If you want a glimpse of what life was like at the turn of century for the poor in NYC, you will want to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exceptionally written.
ellie75 More than 1 year ago
it was a well written book based on true events, the author's writing captures the audience and draws them in from beginning to the end of the book. It is a great book for school projects.
drebbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Extremely well researched and written "Triangle" is the story of the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factor that killed 146 workers, most of them young women. David von Drehle not only writes about the fire, but the events leading up to the fire, including a prolonged strike by garment workers in 1909. The conditions the workers had to deal with are also described as well as the incredibly long work week (100 hours) for low wages which the owners tried to make even lower whenever they could. Von Drehle describes in great detail the fire, the workers attempts to escape the fire and the efforts of people both inside and outside the factory that struggled to save the victims. He also describes the aftermath of the fire and covers the owner's trial and whether or not they were convicted on any charges. Finally, he includes the first complete list of the fire victims and how they died. I've wanted to learn more about the Triangle factory fire since I saw a TV movie about it in the late `70's. This book was very informative. The history parts were interesting and helped set the picture of what life was like at the time of the fire. The parts about the fire were hard to read at times not only because of the depictions of the victims dying but the memories it arose of September 11th as some victims were forced to jump from the ninth floor windows to escape the flames. The aftermath of the fire was also interesting, including what happened at the trial of the two owners of the Triangle. The list of the names of most of the victims (six were never identified) was compelling and makes readers realize the victims were mostly young women with the rest of their lives ahead of them. The list of victims is a perfect example of how well researched the entire book is - their names (and the various names misreported in the papers), ages, how they died, and who identified the bodies is listed. Because of the subject matter, "Triangle" is at times a difficult read, but well worth it.
billgreer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Takes you back to sweatshop New York through a riveting story of a 1911 tragedy, the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company that trapped 123 young seamstresses and launched twentieth-century labor reform.
schwager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fabulous book on an important event in labor history. Von Dreshle has thoroughly researched this event and uses wonderful storytelling to bring the subject to life for the reader. He sets the story amid the political and social climate that contributed to the fire and trial outcome, making it a balanced story. Highly recommended!
queencersei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Triangle recounts the 1911 fire that occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. 146 workers, mainly young women were killed. Up until 9/11 this had been the worst workplace death in U.S. History. As a direct result of this fire, several work place safety laws were passed. This novel not only recounts the devastation of the fire, but it also gives a wonderful glimpse into the lives of the women working class girls who were employed there. The novel is well researched and filled with many interesting historical details.
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fabulous account of the Triangle Fire and the immigrant women who worked and perished. I thought this was well researched and the women really came to life, they got under your skin and then you were with them during their last moments. A must read for quirky history buffs.
mkboylan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished Triangle the Fire That Changed America by David Von Drehle. Great book - got better as it went. Billed as a social history, it addresses the factory fire that killed 140 workers in NYC in 1911. I have a big hole in my knowledge about history when it comes to that era, so glad I read it. Addressed unions, suffragettes, Tammany Hall, told through the lives of these people and their involvement in these issues specifically around the fire, including a lookback at their home countries and reason for immigrating. In a different time, I might have perceived it as a success story about unions and worker safety, but here we are in 2011 continuing on with greedy politicians and corporations, dirty legal tricks, still sending people to die in unsafe mines, and destroying unions again. Too sad.
jcmontgomery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I rarely recommend non-fiction as many have not only their own interests that may not be the same as yours, but you never know if they don't mind a dry read or if they mind someone who makes it read like a novel. Triangle is a happy medium for everyone. Not that it is an easy read. The tragedy it dissects is one that will break your heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed, this is written more like a history book. I wanted to be Entertained. would have been nice for the story to be told through one of the character mentioned
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