The Hamlet Fire

The Hamlet Fire

A Tragic Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives

Book - 2017
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"Just over twenty-five years ago, on the day after Labor Day, a chicken processing factory in Hamlet, North Carolina, burst into flames. The blaze immediately created a wall of heat and split the factory in half. Twenty-five people--eighteen of whom were women, twelve of whom were black--perished behind the plant's bolted doors. In previous decades, Hamlet had thrived thanks to the railroad. But by the 1970s, it was a postindustrial backwater, a magnet for businesses searching for cheap labor and little oversight. One of these businesses was Imperial Food Products, which paid its workers a dollar above the nation's paltry minimum wage--then $4.25 an hour--to scrape gobs of fat off frozen chicken breasts before they were battered and fried into golden-brown tenders. If a worker complained about the pace of the line or missed a shift to take care of children or went to the bathroom too often they were fired. But workers kept quiet and kept coming back because jobs were scarce. Eighty years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, industrial disasters were supposed to have been a thing of the past. After spending several years talking to local residents, state officials, and survivors of the fire, award-winning historian Bryant Simon has written a vivid, potent, and gripping work of narrative nonfiction .... The Hamlet Fire is a disturbing social autopsy of a town, a nation, and a time that shows how cheap labor, cheap government, and cheap food came together in a way that was bound for tragedy."--Jacket.
Publisher: New York :, The New Press,, [2017]
ISBN: 9781620972380
Branch Call Number: 363.1196649 SI
Characteristics: 303 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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