The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls

The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

Book - 2017
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ANew York Times, USA Today, andWall Street JournalBestseller!

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."--NPR Books

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive -- until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girlsfully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

Publisher: Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks, Inc., [2017]
ISBN: 9781492649359
Characteristics: xvi, 479 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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From Library Staff

In the 1920s, the recent discovery of radium led to a variety of novelty products sold using the element: radium water (for health!), and glow-in-the-dark watch faces. Employed to paint those watch faces were young women, many of whom later experienced truly horrific — and fatal — effects. This b... Read More »


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EricaV_KCMO Sep 13, 2017

A must read! A fast-paced, wonderful narrative nonfiction book about the women, who painted glow-in-the-dark watch faces during World War I and beyond.

Kate Moore spoke at BookExpo. I was in tears hearing about her research and more about these women. A wonderful interview with Ms. Moore on NPR.

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lilypad_1
Sep 09, 2017

The information in this book was new to me and very pertinent to today when the President is taking away safety regulations for workers by executive order. What these women went through was a tragedy and might I add, would probably not have happened over and over again if they had been men and thereby "breadwinners of the family"- even though in many cases they were supporting their families.
I wish it had been written in a more coherent style, I found it tough to keep all the "girls", excuse the employer, should be "women" straight even though I wanted to remember each of their stories.

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pmamut
Aug 24, 2017

Interesting history. However, the author's writing is extremely redundant, and makes keeping track of each character very difficult. Interrsting for the first couple of chapters, but becomes very labored after that. I'd recommend reading an excerpt rather than the whole book. Additionally, the history of the radium girls is very closely tied to de-unionization that characterized the 20th century United States, as well as general workers rights issues and issues with regulation of business, which the author does not effectively highlight.

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BrendaSwank
Aug 20, 2017

Very interesting read, however, it seemed like the girls' narrative kept repeating. There were several companies using radium so each girl had her own story that pretty much sounded the same for each girl. After the lawyers and doctors got involved with the girls' cases, that was a repeating theme as well; lies, denials, endless physical exams etc. I enjoyed learning about the girls and the struggles they went through but the book could possibly have been shortened a bit without losing any substance.

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Uchinaguchi
Aug 09, 2017

Kate Moore doesn't just tell us about the lives and deaths of the radium girls, but offers us a unique glimpse into their world using their own words. By using primary sources like the girls' diaries and even interviewing living family members who remember these girls, Moore allows the reader to be swept up in the highs and lows the girls lived. As the reader, we are offered more information than the girls receive, but Moore does a great job holding information from the reader for suspense which amplifies moments of betrayal and heartbreak for the reader. Some of the most emotional moments were not ones about the girls directly, but how their conditions and ultimately their deaths impacted those who loved them. Not only did the girls suffer, but their families struggled to help them in any way possible, often resulting in cases of extreme poverty and desperation. Radium didn't just affect the women who worked with it, but their families and their communities as well.

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EmilyEm
Jul 29, 2017

This truly dark story of 1920s businesses who employed young women as dial painters using glowing radium paint without knowledge of its long-term consequences and who then covered up or denied fault as the women developed ghastly illnesses and died.

Moore’s book is thorough in its research, but tough going as the grim consequences of the work are detailed in case after case. Good epilogue. Recommended for serious history readers. Nothing like reading 'The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II,' women who benefitted from the health and safety precautions that resulted from the Radium Girls court cases.

laurabrary Jun 22, 2017

Fascinating and thorough look into the lives of the "radium girls" of the 1920s--the young women who painted watch dials with radium-filled paint and ingested the radium for years without intervention or warning. It was often difficult to read about the injustice and pain these women suffered, but their story and legacy is important, encouraging, and absolutely worth reading.

t
Tjad2L
Jun 17, 2017

Can a book have too many details?
I confess I only read the first 3 chapters of Radium Girls before I started to feel depressed and put the book aside. This is a very well written and researched book. But the topic and vivid details make for a tough read. The book includes a few pictures which makes the story all the more real when you can put a face to a name and see some of the affects of radium poisoning. What these girls when through was horrific and I am glad that their names and stories will not be forgotten.

2
21986003081259B
Jun 16, 2017

Loved this book. A fascinating read.

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lola_jane
May 29, 2017

With this thoroughly researched book, Kate Moore hoped to go beyond the historical facts and legal outcomes, to focus on the lives and experiences of the women affected by work in radium dial painting studios. In this she succeeds; I felt their anger and betrayal when they realized their employers had lied, I felt their heartache when they learned the truth about their illnesses and that there was no cure and their ultimate success in court and with legislation was bittersweet considering their sacrifices. However, reading does get bogged down in places because in Moore's attempt to honour the lives of these women she introduces too many individuals and it becomes somewhat difficult to follow the developments of each case.

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Tjad2L
Jun 17, 2017

Tjad2L thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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