What are the key topics in this book?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the key topics in Marrin's work is an analysis of the conditions that led to the Triangle Fire.  The "perfect storm" combination of immigrants who were easily manipulated into working long hours in hazardous conditions with menial payment along with individuals in business who sought profit over safety and a lack of awareness of the dangers in an unregulated industry conspired to cause the death of so many.  Another key topic in the book is how the lack of governmental support for individuals can cause them to enter into situations where safety is absent and peril abounds.  While many immigrants were "strong and willing," they entered into sweat shop situations where clothing and other items were manufactured on "the backs of abused workers."  This becomes one of the key topics in the book.  The exploration of the economic reality that valued "flesh and blood so cheap" becomes a part of this narrative.

Another key topic in the book is the day of the fire, itself. The lack of an escape plan for the workers, the flammable nature of the garments, and the disaster itself become part of the book's focus.  The Triangle Fire was the worst disaster in an occupational setting outside of the September 11 Attacks.  Detailing this becomes a focus of the book as well as the aftermath in terms of how avoidance of such a condition becomes part of the American workers' narrative.  The conclusion is that being vigilant of conditions that lead to disasters like the Triangle Fire both in America and abroad becomes its legacy.

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