Authored by Daveid Von Drehle and published by Grove Press in the year 2004, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America offers a recount and reevaluation of one of the deadliest and most damaging fires in the history of New York occurring on the 25th of March 1911. In the setting of its context, Drehle presents the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, an avoidable disaster that probably came because of negligence.
In the months and years preceding this fire, Drehle indicates the existence of the belief good life could only be found in America, this was the American dream that saw many wives of the Jewish and Italians migrate to America, only to find out that they had to work for this. Simultaneously, the shirtwaist business was booming, and the Triangle was one of the largest producers. Yet the working conditions had been unfavorable, and obsession with controlling theft and workers led the factory owners into ordering that one of the two significant exits be locked. Nonetheless, the trial and inquest did not prove all this. Drehle recounts as the fire started on the eighth floor while most of the workers working on the ninth floor. As for the owners of the factory owners, they were alerted via a phone call in their tenth-floor office, where they proceeded to jump to adjacent rooftops. A total of 123 women and 23 men died, making the whole death toll come to 146.
After the fire, there was the aftermath of the event. Drehle indicates that it is only then that America realized the way employers unequally related to employees. So, 2, 000 sweatshop factories had to be inspected by a commission step by step. In the end, came rules about minimum wage standards and working hours. Occupational health safety was given an important consideration, and a total of thirty labor laws came into existence.
The book is quite comprehensive and organized, with all events in the pre, during, and post-fire periods are arranged sequentially. Drehle outstandingly notes that previous protests and demonstrations had occurred in an attempt to change the oppressive work conditions, yet no one took notice of these. Instead, factory owners like Blanc saw this as interference in private business. The common belief was that the owners owned the company, and so was the right to dictate conditions of work at the factories. To this extent, it had to cost 146 lives for changes demanded for decades to be implemented. Recounting the massive shirtwaist workers’ strike brings the reality that these changes were truly due, and the fire was just an awakening call.
Considerably, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America by Drehle remains one of the most outstanding presentations on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This text moves step by step and enlists the most notable characters as they participated in the events leading up to the fire and those after the fire. It lists the major events in this industry and fire history and does an incisive analysis of the interplay of various factors at the time of work. Considering the sorrowful and sad nature of the workers’ death, Drehle embodies their end as the starting point of and for transformations. Ultimately, inquiries and trials culminate in various legal implications. Further to these are numerous political transformations and changes in civil and urban liberalism. Quintessentially, it truly serves its topic, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.
- Drehle, Daveid Von. Triangle: The Fire that Changed America. New York: Grove Press, 2004. Print.