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Examines, using eyewitness accounts, the tragedy that killed 146 workers in a New York City garment factory.
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Gr 6-9-A detailed account of this devastating event and its repercussions. In addition to a discussion of the details of the fire and its aftermath, a history of the labor movement and women in labor unions is carefully woven into this narrative. Placing this account in historical perspective, the author chronicles the growth of the shirtwaist because of the popularity of the Gibson Girl look. In order to meet demands, production increased. Although some regulation of labor and building codes existed, the owners of the companies easily circumvented them. These conditions led to the "uprising of the twenty thousand," the first major strike by women in the United States in 1909. This strike set a precedent for improvements in working conditions and wages. No lasting changes occurred until the fire. Black-and-white reproductions, some full page, provide valuable points of reference. Unfortunately, none of the quotes and firsthand accounts included are documented. Vague statements abound, such as "The board's report, which was published in a magazine only nine days before" or "One factory owner-declared, `Let `em burn up. They're a lot of cattle anyway,'" eliminating any credibility these primary sources might have. It's a poor precedent to set for kids writing reports.-Lana Miles, Duchesne Academy, Houston, TX
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.From Booklist:
Reviewed with The Influenza Pandemic.
Gr. 7-12. Part of a new series on Great Disasters: Reforms and Ramifications, each of these books includes a detailed account of the particular event, the historical conditions that made it happen, and the changes that came about because of it. Aronson's style is sometimes dull, especially when she talks about the biology of the influenza pandemic, and she mistakenly describes malaria as a virus instead of a parasite. The narrative about the factory fire is much more dramatic, drawing on eye-witness accounts of the event and on social history of the labor conditions. Most compelling in both books are the facts of the deadly catastrophe and the final commentary that such disastrous events could happen again. Each book includes occasional black-and-white photos, a chronology, and a brief bibliography, but no source notes, not even for direct quotes. Hazel Rochman
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