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Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.

Factory Girl - Barbara Greenwood This book is both fiction and nonfiction. I suppose that if it was on television it would be called a docudrama. It is the story of Emily, a twelve-year-old factory worker in 1912, and is written pretty much like any other work of fiction would be written. However, this work of fiction alternates with sections of nonfiction elaborating on the historical setting in which the fiction takes place. I really wanted to give this book four stars and there were a few times while reading it that I thought I was going to do so, but ultimately there were just too many shortcomings. It is really excellent in depicting the horrid working and living conditions of the factory workers and child laborers in North America in 1912, but then the story ends and nothing has changed. It just leaves it at that. The workers start out living very hard lives and they end up living very hard lives and they don't even do much to change their lot. In fact, the workers are largely depicted as cowards who do not dare to fight back against their oppressors. There is a vague reference to a strike that takes place ofstage at one point in the story and toward the end there is some mention of some union organizing, but that is played down. The nonfiction sections do give a nod to strikes and union organizing and in the last section it does make mention of a certain female labor organizer, but it emphasizes the role that newspaper articles and lobbying played in labor reform. It kind of leaves one with the impression that any reform that came about was done by the capitalist system itself and by capitalist reformers. The historical record is that there were tremendous labor battles in which strikes were carried out and literal battles took place in the fight of workers to better their conditions. This book leaves the impression that such things never happened. I think this book would have been much better if it had been only the first chapters of a much larger book. It does a good job of establishing the setting, but after that setting is established I think that it should have gone on to be a story of workers fighting back. It would have made a much more interesting story that way at the very least.