|A STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
AND FOR A CAUSE
A vivid historical story set in New York City's Lower East Side
Many of today's headlines, news stories, and opinion pieces chronicle the economic inequity in American society. Daily we are updated on the struggle of the impoverished, jobless, and homeless to reclaim power taken from them by the financial establishment.
Those who know the history of Lower Manhattan may be reminded that today's face-off
between the poor and the powerful is nothing new. A hundred years ago, when New York's Lower East Side was the most crowded square mile on earth, the oppressed lived in constant dangerin infested homes, in unsafe workplaces, and in streets torn by gangland wars. The poor, uneducated, largely immigrant working class was at the mercy of wealthy criminals and the criminally wealthy.
Cynthia Drew's historical novel, City of Slaughter, is the story of a young woman's resolve not only to survive these dangerous conditions, but to rise in society through talent and hard work, and in so doing to campaign against child labor abuse, illiteracy, and unsafe working conditions, and to champion women's rights and freedom of speech.
Carsie Akselrod, who has escaped a pogrom in her Russian shtetl at the age of fourteen, lands with her younger sister, Lilia, in the Lower East Side, where they live in squalor with poor Jewish relatives. The two girls find work in the garment district, Carsie as a milliner's apprentice and Lilia at the Triangle Waist Company. Defying custom, Carsie writes political pieces for The Jewish Forward. As her lot improves, she is befriended by wealthy gangland boss Arnold Rothstein, who helps her establish her own millinery shop. When Lilia perishes in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, Carsie is overwhelmed by grief and nearly loses her sanity; but she recovers and goes on to become a champion, like her friend Emma Goldman, of women's rights.
About City of Slaughter, author Cynthia Drew says, We should recognize the struggle of those who fought for some of the rights we enjoy today. Modern current events suggest that many of those same rights need to be won and re-won.
Cynthia Drew teaches Creative Writing at UNC-Asheville's Reuter Center and her award-winning short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She worked for several years in New York City's garment district, where she became keenly aware of the oppressive sweatshops that even today are peopled by immigrants.
||City of Slaughter
by Cynthia Drew
310 pages, cloth, $15.95
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