Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

by David Von Drehle

Hardcover(1st Edition)

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Overview

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David Von Drehle

“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: 9780871138743
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 08/15/2003
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.54(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.17(d)

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Triangle: The Fire that Changed America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I normally avoid books that focus on horrific events in history because they mostly exploit and sensationalize the disaster for their authors' obvious motive: profit. David Von Drehle has no interest in exploiting this exceptionally terrible moment in New York's--and even America's--history. His compassion for the victims, his admiration for the reformers, and his loathing for those who caused and profited from the fire is obvious on every page, and in every word. Framed by the scorn and indifference toward laborers before the fire, and the realization of guilt that led to the rush to reform after it, the events of September 25, 1911 are heartbreakingly described by Mr. Von Drehle's vivid prose. But the description of the actual fire is only part of the book. He doesn't linger over the gruesome details to satisfy some cruel, voyeuristic hunger that some readers might have expected. There's just enough narrative to convey the chaos, terror and sadness of the event. To prevent the story from getting too morbid, the author diligently included the many individual acts of heroism by police, firemen, passersby and neighboring NYU students. The main purpose of the book, as the subtitle explains, is to demonstrate how the Triangle catastrophe profoundly affected Tammany Hall, New York City and State government, the federal governemt, the labor union movement, socialists, and Democrats. The dedication of the reformers and labor leaders like Al Smith, Frances Perkins, Robert Wagner, Sr., Clara Lemlich, and so on, is also highlighted. The owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, receive the vilification they deserve. And somewhere in the moral gray area are the two most enigmatic figures: Tammany leader Charles Murphy and the attorney for Blanck and Harris, Max Steuer. One last note: the book is a fascinating history of the history of the disaster. By that I mean that Mr. Von Drehle reports how others before him--the newspapers, Attorney Steuer, Clara Lemlich, and Leon Stein--recounted the events of that dark day, and how frighteningly close we came to losing these records (especially Steuer's). It represents the debt we owe to Mr. Von Drehle's dogged research, as well as the debt he owes his predecessors. Amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The fire of the Triangle Waist Company of 1911 is unknown to many, lost in the past. Few are even aware of this fire, the worst in the history of New York. Throughout this book, this history is uncovered. It seemed at first that this book gave too much information that confused and only complicated the story but as the reader continues, these detailed facts are welcomed to add to this interesting yet horrifying event of lives lost. 'Exploration and invention were the two faces on the coin of progress, and progress was the spirit of the age.' This is learned through the stories of individuals who fought for progress of safety and status in their society. By getting to know several teenagers and young adults' stories, the reader becomes one with the workers fighting for what they believe in. Yet there seems to be a fault in this book. The end to this informing story was disappointing and weak. So much takes place within the climax of the story that the ending seems to be unfinished. Yes, the end follows what has happened to several of the more influential figures of the event but it seems to lack the closing of such a horrifying and complicated occurrence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was moved by this work of history. I should think all decendents of immigrants to this country would want to read about how our families bravely came to this country and continued their struggle to survive and support their loved ones. Their strength, determination, pure sense of pride, duty, and family honor is much to be in awe of today. I was left with a feeling of pride. However, this pride was mixed with a deep feeling of being overly complaisant and a bit 'whiney' in this land of such great freedoms and opportunities. This book is wonderfully written. It is an excellent, historically documented account of this sad tragedy of our past. As with all disasters hopefully we can reread their accounts and learn lessons from them. These brave young women and men will never know how much their lives and ultimate deaths changed our lives today. Without knowing it they died for the good of all future working 'persons' in America. I highly recommend reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The fire event didn't start until page 116. Too much detail to Russion-Jewish lineage, labor union evolution and Tammany Hall politics. Real story was surronded by minutia. Boring!