Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

by David Von Drehle

Hardcover(1st Edition)

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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 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 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.
Helcura on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book is about two thirds history of the New York Labor movement at the time of the fire, and one third actual details about the event. I found it interesting - the author tied the labor history information into the personal lives of some of the victims and I finally have a clue about Tammany Hall, which was just a "bad politics in history" thing to me before. The actual discussion of the fire was gripping, and the diagrams of the various factory floors really helped with visualizing what the workers had to contend with.As usual, I wished there were more pictures of the people involved and I'd have liked a map of the area, but the account is impressively thorough, especially the first complete list of victims which the author culled from various published sources.Worth reading.
tymfos on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. Fire of March, 1911, which killed 146 workers. It was the deadliest workplace disaster in New York City history until Sept 11, 2011, when the massive loss of life in the World Trade Center dwarfed the Triangle's death toll. It was also a catalyst for groundbreaking regulations dealing with working conditions and workplace safety.Author Von Drehle pieces together the details of the terrible fire clearly, and the reader gets a clear sense of the horror of the swift, deadly blaze. But every disaster, indeed every story, has a context -- and Von Drehle excels in explaining how this tragedy fit into the larger context of early 20th century New York. Immigration, the rise of unions, and the politics of Tammany Hall are all part of that context, and receive careful attention.A fascinating story about a dreadful tragedy at a pivotal time in our nation's history.
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!