Compelling, in-depth look at a tragedy that deserves to be better remembered. (8-page b&w insert, not seen)

TRIANGLE

THE FIRE THAT CHANGED AMERICA

A vivid recounting of the 1911 blaze that until the World Trade Center attack was the worst workplace disaster in New York history.

On March 25 of that year, a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company in Greenwich Village. In a half-hour, 146 people were killed, 123 of them women. Washington Post journalist Drehle (Among the Lowest of the Dead, 1995) fleshes out the social and political background to the conditions that made the tragedy inevitable. Abysmal pay and harassment for petty work violations had prompted a massive waist-workers’ strike in New York the year before. Nor was the fire unusual or unforeseen; one historian estimated that at the time, a hundred accidents occurred in American workplaces each day. The largest blouse-making operation in New York, the Triangle sweatshop employed 500 or more workers, mostly Jewish and Italian, who toiled on the upper floors just beyond the reach of fire department ladders. The victims’ doom was sealed when a rickety fire escape collapsed, and they couldn’t open a door kept locked because the owners feared employee theft. Though the owners were acquitted of manslaughter charges, the outrage that swept the city led to changes in laws concerning workplace safety and the rights of labor. Reaction to the Triangle disaster also foreshadowed a national political realignment as urban Democrats became the shock troops of FDR’s coalition. Drehle enhances his narrative with colorful portraits of principal players, including flamboyant defense attorney Max Steuer; Charles Whitman, the politically ambitious district attorney of New York; Tammany Hall boss Charles Murphy; and his Albany lieutenants Al Smith and Robert F. Wagner, who staved off socialist insurgency by passing 25 workplace safety bills in 1912. More remarkably, the author manages to piece together from news accounts and a long-lost trial transcript the lives and aspirations of the accident’s victims.

Compelling, in-depth look at a tragedy that deserves to be better remembered. (8-page b&w insert, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-87113-874-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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