Flesh and Blood So Cheap
By Albert Marrin
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 182 pgs. Middle Grade/Teen Nonfiction
On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught on fire and 146 workers died, either trapped inside the building or leaping out the windows to their deaths. This event horrified the New York community, and investigations into working conditions ensued. This event had a profound impact on American life, and Marrin provides readers with a great understanding of the event. He discusses the workers (many of whom were Italian and Russian Jewish immigrant girls, working as breadwinners for their families), the garment industry (including sweatshops and factories) and the strike that took place shortly before the tragedy, the tragedy itself, and the aftermath. The book rounds out with a comparison of sweatshops of the past with sweatshops in developing nations today.
A highly informative book, it actually spent less time talking about the fire itself and more time talking about the conditions that led up to it and on the strike preceding it, but it gives a great look at why something like this tragedy occurred--how workers were desperate for jobs but trying to improve working conditions, while employers were looking for cheap labor and used shameful tactics to get it. Informative and interesting, I read this in one sitting.