Bap's Reviews > Triangle: The Fire That Changed America

Triangle by David von Drehle
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M 50x66
's review
Sep 20, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: law, labor
Read in September, 2005

First read Michael Leccese's great review. Then go to Washington Square in NYC where the building still stands where sweatshop workers mostly young immigrant woman jumped to their deaths, sometmes holding hands with other workers to escape the flames. It is so eerily like the World Trade center in that regard. The doors to the factory had been nailed shut to prevent workers from taking breaks. The building codes were flimsy and unenforced. the owners were greed and sickenly escaped all liability in subsequent liability trials.

This fire was a catalyst to the ILGWU and was a rallying cry for reformers including Frances Perkins, a young social worker who would work tirelessly for new factory laws and would become the conscience of the New Deal, as the frst Secretary of the Labor. Francs was there that day and watched the firefighters helpless to extinquish he fire with nets that could not stop the falls and the death of the girls who jumped and jumped. If any really thinks that this could not happen today or that regulation is not necessary or that unions are antiquated, needed then but not now, you are a far kinder judge of human nature and our unending capacity to exploit others and to assume terrible risks in the pursuit of profits.
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07/07/2016 marked as: read

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Michael To add another two cents, any who takes today's world of decent conditions for most workers for granted should read this book. One technical correction to Mr. Powers. The doors were not nailed shut but several were locked. The workers had exactly three minutes to get out before the fire burst out of control. He who hesitated truly was lost. The fire threatened to spread to the NYU Law library, where students, staff and faculty set up a kind of bucket brigade to get books outside.


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