Cover Image: The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls

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Member Reviews

This fantastic book almost needs its own genre--the historical fiction/nonfiction angle the author took made the story very endearing and sad, much more so than if it were straight nonfiction about these events. The nonfiction added the element of "these are real people who were affected by this mistreatment and neglect." As a public health professional and laboratory scientist, I found much of this book to be simply horrifying, for lack of better words. I understand that there was very little to no regulations implemented to protect workers from their workplace, but to read a story like this with likable characters, it almost felt like my friends were being unknowingly poisoned, and all I could do is pound my fists on the glass box I was stuck in while I had to keep watching. I intended to read this book and review it for my workplace blog in the "What we're reading" section, but at the time of reading, I had a difficult time giving a fair and balanced review that wasn't too politically charged. 

I would love to read more from this author, and am thankful for the opportunity to have been one of the first to read this fascinating, enlightening, tragic story. It helped further strengthen my dedication to my career in protecting the health of the public, even if it means fighting against the current system. 

This review is also available on Goodreads.
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4.5 Stars!

The Radium Girls was a phenomenal read detailing the horrifying ordeal the dial painters went through to find justice and I found it to be a very engaging read.

This book follows two sets of women: those that worked in Orange, New Jersey at The United States Radium Corporation, and those that worked in Ottawa, Illinois at the Radium Dial Company. Despite the years between when these women worked for these companies, their situations were nearly identical. The dial painters were ignored when they raised concerns, they were assured their work was perfectly safe, and they were lied to.

I personally had never heard of the dial painters or what they went through until I discovered this book. It's horrifying to realize the events in this book actually happened and to read about what these women went through. One common thread throughout the book is how determined and strong the women were to find justice and to ensure that what happened to them wouldn't happen to anyone else. I admired the women's courage and their perseverance in spite of the odds stacked against them.

I'm not one for non-fiction usually but the writing in this book is incredibly engaging and at times it felt like I was reading a work of fiction. The book was ever dull and there were only a few occasions that were a bit information heavy. One aspect I really liked was that throughout the book there are personal snippets from the women's families about what the women were like. I loved these little touches as they made the women more real to me rather than them being some faceless person from the past.

The Radium Girls is definitely a worthwhile read and an important one as what these women accomplished managed to create real change to workers' rights. I highly recommend this book even if you're not a fan of non-fiction works as the writing is engaging enough while still getting the information across.
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The Curies discovered radium in the late 19th Century. Although they noticed that the element had destructive properties, they and other scientists extolled its virtues to the degree that it was deemed perfectly safe. In the years before WWI, women in factories painted watch dials with radium. They used no protection because the factory bosses said it was perfectly safe. After all, it was used to kill cancer, so it must be healthy. So the young women painted their watch dials, keeping their paintbrushes to a point, by sucking them between their teeth. This was the standard practice for years and when women started exhibiting problems with their teeth, no one made the connection between their work with radium and their illnesses. 
This book follows the fates of these women in a very approachable way, making their stories personal. Moore used diaries, court transcripts, and letters, among other sources to create a vivid picture of the women who fought against corporate irresponsibility and won. I enjoyed the intimate portrait of the women involved and their lives, and it is always wonderful and important to highlight forgotten parts of history such as this. However, I will warn the reader that some of the descriptions of the women’s physical afflictions are on the graphic side.
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This book was boring. Just a recitation of facts. There really wasn't much storyline. I read a lot of history books and this one was disappointing. There needed to be better storytelling not just a recitation of facts.
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What a fascinating story, one that is hard to believe is true looking at it from a modern perspective. The book is fast-paced, something that is difficult for many science-based historical accounts to do. This book will appeal to people who enjoyed "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" and "Hidden Figures".
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This is both a very interesting and sad story that needed to be told.  I found the story too repetitive and bogged down with minutia.  This book could have been edited down about 100 pages. Important story but not the best read.
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Not typically a fan of Nonfiction, I loved the story of The Radium girls! It read like a fiction because I found myself so enraptured by the story of how radium came to play such an impactful part of those lives. First as a way to help but then ended up destroying those lives and the covered up secrets that were trying to escape.
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Excellent story about a little-known topic in history. I enjoyed reading about the specific women who worked in the watch-painting factory. Fans of history books or people who enjoy reading about women's history and issues would enjoy the book.
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Fantastic and captivating book about a fascinating and very much forgotten part of history. The story is clear and the facts are well presented, but not dry. It's very easy to connect with these girls and get involved in their story!
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This was an amazing book about women who aren’t very known but continue to impact the world we live and work in today. Kate Moore does an amazing job researching and writing about the brave young women that changed our world.
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Fascinating book. Couldn’t put it down. The bravery of these girls in the face of tremendous adversity and pain is unbelievable.
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This is the hidden story of the women who made things with Radium, which we now know is horrible for us.  They were told to put it in their mouths!  They glowed with they went home!  They were told they it was safe even though the companies know it wasn’t.  This is the story of these women who ended up with cancer eating their bodies from the inside out and the fight for them to have their medical bills covers and in the end, their deaths.  These women fought and fought so that others didn’t have to so that workers could have a safer working environment.  This was a great book that told a silent piece of history that should be brought into the light.
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This is a story about a different era, when we had no clue about the effects of radioactive substances. Well worth reading.
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This is an amazingly well-written book, filled with both triumph and tragedy. I was deeply affected by the stories of the brave dial painters, their suffering and determination to fight back against the radium companies. It feels unreal to me how blind and ruthless these companies chose to be only for the sake of making profits.

I do believe gender had a lot to do with this sort of segregation and cheating of the dial painters teenagers/girls. They were basically used, sacrificed, yet they somehow became more than life through their suffering and contribution to the radiation branch of the health system/medicine in the US and world-wide.

This almost didn't feel like nonfiction in terms of the writing style. It was a continuous flow, accessible language, well-rounded characters and seemless storytelling. I'll have to check other books written by Kate Moore.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc.
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I have always been fascinated by the story of the radium girls, so I was very excited and nervous about this book. Excited for the potential of a more in depth look at these women and for their tragic story to become more well known, but nervous that it wouldn’t do their story justice or get all the facts. I meedn’t Have worried. I found this book to be incredibly well researched, captivating, and thought-provoking. A wonderful book.
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While I definitely enjoyed my experience reading this book, there are some issues with pacing and character development in the middle that left me wanting just a bit more.
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History that's easy to read while making you think
This was an excellent book! While ultimately a tragedy that reminds society of the need for caution, I enjoyed reading this well written story about one of the important roles that women played in our history. 

Posted in kindle and Goodreads as excelrn.
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This is my review, here and an Goodreads:

Wow, this story was a page turner. I never heard of these girls before which, hearing what they went through, is amazing. The story is definitely a 5 star read but the writing just didn't match up. I can still highly recommend this read to anyone looking for a fascinating, page turner of a story.
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This is a difficult book to read, not because of the writing, but because of the subject.  Young women who died in such a horrible way because their employers ignored the hazards of radium. Their deaths changed the way industries treated employees,  so there is a hopeful undertone, but the detailed descriptions of these girls' suffering is gut wrenching.  Worth the read, but be aware.
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As soon as I saw Radium Girls up on the Netgalley platform I knew I NEEDED to read it. While I had never done extensive reading on these girls I had heard of them in passing while reading various other non-fiction works, especially when taking a class on social reform and women’s rights. However, after having received the book, life happened and like so many other things, it quite literally was shelved for awhile. But I still knew I WANTED to read this. So when a weekend arrived where I wasn’t feeling great and was going to be spending my time on the couch, it was time, finally, to pick up the book! And I absolutely devoured the pages in the course of the weekend!

What immediately caught my attention in this book was the girls themselves. The author doesn’t focus on just one of two key players, but quite the handful of women who endured a lot at the expense of radium. These women were fleshed out and their reasons for working at the various radium dial painting factories and the effects of the radium on their lives and bodies were detailed in full. Each woman had different reasons and different ailments and this book gave the full picture. Not something you want to be reading while eating, it can be gross at times as the author pulls no punches, but it was very appreciated because I could truly identify with these women and the pain they endured even while fighting their battle legally.

Even the companies themselves, the author dug under the covers and we are treated to what they knew and the lengths they went to in order to hide what they knew about the effects of the radium. What shocked me was how these women underwent exams by the company doctors, but were not given access to the results and the company men already knew they were suffering from radium’s effects early on.

I also appreciated the legal process that the author took us through as the women struggled to find anyone that would be willing to go up against the industry or assist them with their case. These were women who suffered some horrible workplace injustices, but at the time the jobs they were doing were considered to be top of the heap and THE jobs to be had, which made for considerable backlash. This reminded me to some extent of some of the garment workers in NYC, how those jobs were better than many others that women could have and there was high competition for the jobs, and the only way that their workplace situations were improved was unfortunately through a major fire that killed many women (at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory).

Oh and let me not forget to mention, that although this is a non-fiction book, it certainly doesn’t read like one. While the material might be heavy in concept, the writing style is fluid and reads more like a novel, seamlessly moving from one thing to the next. An excellent book that I would highly recommend.
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