Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

LIKE THOUSANDS OF OTHER Americans, I first read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle during high school. Partly because I lived in Ottumwa, Iowa, an old midwestern meatpacking town, where the smells from the Hormel plant wafted into the school, the book made a huge impression on me. Many years later I realized that the book...

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CHAPTER 1 The Industrial Center of the Country

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pp. 1-4

“THEY WERE TIED to the great packing machine, and tied to it for life,” wrote Upton Sinclair in The Jungle, referring to packing workers in early twentieth-century Chicago. The line could easily have described virtually all Americans, particularly midwesterners. Since the establishment of meatpacking in and around Cincinnati...

PART I

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CHAPTER 2 It Was All So Very Businesslike

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pp. 7-28

FOUR MAJOR PHASES of development have characterized meatpacking’s industrial evolution in the Midwest since the early 1800s. The initial phase emerged during the settlement of the trans-Appalachian West when merchant-wholesalers, centered in Cincinnati and the Ohio River towns during the 1830s and 1840s, slaughtered and...

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CHAPTER 3 A Thing as Tremendous as the Universe

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pp. 29-46

AT THE TURN of the twentieth century, Upton Sinclair described Chicago’s stockyards district as “the greatest aggregation of labor and capital ever gathered in one place.” His characterization of the stockyards district’s magnitude was no exaggeration; it was indeed the largest industrial complex in the United States, if not in the...

PART II

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CHAPTER 4 The Families Had All Been of Different Nationalities

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pp. 49-72

IN ONE OF THE more memorable passages in The Jungle, Upton Sinclair brilliantly summarizes the way Chicago’s major packinghouses drew upon “representative[s] of several races that . . . displaced each other in the stockyards,” each new group representing “cheaper labor” than the preceding group.1 In this way, the major...

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CHAPTER 5 Benefits of a More Substantial Nature

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pp. 73-98

IN TWO BRIEF PASSAGES from The Jungle, Upton Sinclair points out packinghouse workers’ deep concerns about workplace rights and the quality of their community life. The first focuses on workers’ efforts to gain a degree of workplace control: “Little by little he gathered that the main thing the men wanted was to put a stop to the...

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CHAPTER 6 With All Her Soul upon Her Work

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pp. 99-113

MOST PEOPLE ASSUME meatpacking is a male-only industry.Yet in one of many moving passages from The Jungle, Upton Sinclair testifies to the fact that women have been employed in packing plants for the last one hundred years when he describes an anonymous sausage maker: “She stayed right there—hour after hour, day after day...

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CHAPTER 7 I’m Glad I’m Not a Hog

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pp. 114-138

BEFORE TAKING a packing-plant job, Jurgis Rudkus, the male protagonist of The Jungle, toured the fictitious Durham Company plant, as companies allowed before the modern era. Ushered up five or six floors to the top of the hog-killing floor, Jurgis is struck by how “very businesslike” pork making is. The “slaughtering machine,” he thinks, “is like some horrible crime committed in a dungeon, all unseen...

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CHAPTER 8 Fresh Meats Must Be Had

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pp. 139-162

MEAT H A S A LWAYS been the central component of the U.S. diet. Its growing importance in western Europeans’ diets beginning in the eighteenth century propelled it to prominence in the New World.1 In describing the diet of white colonial Americans, historian Elaine N. McIntosh notes that “the colonial period has been credited...

PART III

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CHAPTER 9 That Smelt Like the Craters of Hell

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pp. 165-181

ANY READER of The Jungle is struck repeatedly by its many varied, vivid, and even visceral references to smells. Upton Sinclair generally imbeds his descriptions of odors within depictions of some sort of polluted work- or living place: “There were not merely rivers of hot blood, and carloads of moist flesh, and rendering vats and...

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CHAPTER 10 The Cost of Fodder

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pp. 182-200

IN The Jungle, Upton Sinclair provides a memorable accounting of many of the items that meatpackers produced from slaughtered animals, including combs, buttons, hairpins, and imitation ivory from cattle horns, and gelatin, isinglass, and phosphorous from feet, knuckles, hide clippings, and sinews. Sinclair’s observation that...

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CHAPTER 11 To Fix His Hopes upon a Future Life

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pp. 201-206

PREDICTING THE FUTURE is hazardous, but it seems safe to say that the Midwest will remain tied to the great packing machine for years to come. Certainly much about the meatpacking industry has changed in the century since The Jungle’s publication, perhaps most significantly its shift in location from largely urban areas to mostly rural areas. Yet if Upton Sinclair could return to a midwestern packing plant...

tables

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pp. 207-226

Regional and City Maps

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pp. 227-234

Notes

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pp. 235-270

Bibliography

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pp. 271-300

Index

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pp. 301-317