In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, an exposé of the harsh working conditions immigrants faced in Chicago, was published. At the time, it was the preeminent critique of the way an unchecked capitalist society can exploit its most vulnerable members. It chronicled the lives of hard-working Chicago citizens who faced dangerous and oftentimes fatal workplace environments. The publication of The Jungle led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration (among other things), and helped make work environments safer.
Where 1906’s The Jungle mainly concerned immigrants working in the meat-packing industry, Melanie Marnich’s These Shining Lives is set in the roaring ’20s in the Radium Dial, where women paint the faces onto watches.Continue reading “These Shining Lives; The Golden Women of the Gilded Age”