Cover Image: The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls

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I really enjoyed this book. I read it with my book club and the historical context it gave was horrible but very informative
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Knowing what we know now about the effects of radium, this book was a must read for me.  Radium was touted as the cure all and most fantastic discovery in the early 20th century.  The story of the Radium Girls, is a hard book to read because of how dangerous we now know radium is.  The girls trusted their employers and the many people saying radium was safe.  Kate Moore tells the girls struggles with medical issues, the courts, and also the employment safety laws that were created.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers of this book for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review.  5 out of 5 stars!!
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I spent the entire time reading this book shaking my head. Wincing as one girl after another lost a tooth and another tooth and had jaw bones removed and suffered leg pain …limping, amputations, bedridden and then painful deaths. Radium poisoning that infiltrated the factory workers and slowly destroyed them from the inside out.  And for many years there was nobody to help them fight for their rights, nobody to stand up to big business, and weak men who hid the truth so business could prosper at the expense of The Radium Girls.  Uplifting book it is not….If only Erin Brockovich was alive in the early 1900s.

The Radium Girls were mostly teenagers and in their 20s; they were lucky enough to land well paying jobs in the factories painting numbers on watches out of radium paint.  They were told to put the brushes in their mouths to make it fine and pointy so unknowingly the girls were ingesting dangerous radium everyday.  The substance got on their clothes and made them glow; they were covered in it by days end everyday and never knew it was harmful.  The executives insisted the paint was safe and they repeatedly tested the women throughout the years to confirm they were all in good health.

Unfortunately, it was obvious their health was failing them and many of the test results did show the girls were radioactive but the businessmen covered it up and hid the reports so the lucrative watch dial business could continue.  Sadly for the girls, repercussions did not physically show up right away and many of them reported health issues years after they left the factory.

Some of the girls tried to hire lawyers and doctors to vouch for their claims that the job caused them to get sick but for a long time nobody really was able to take on the big company’s powerful legal and medical team, so one by one, girls were using all their family’s money for lawyers, healthcare and then ultimately dying, leaving their families destitute.

Author Kate Moore tells the tragic history of the Radium companies and the legal battles through stories of these important women who worked hard, cared for their families and friends, suffered the unthinkable health issues and experienced financial drain.  The Radium Girls deserve recognition for fighting the big companies who insisted Radium was safe and illegally covered up the truth as they knew it.  They fought for themselves,  and the women who would be exposed to toxic chemicals in the future.

The Radium Girls is a tribute to these hard working, strong women and the generous lawyer who fought hard for justice.  “Radium had been known to be harmful since 1901.  Every death since was unnecessary.”

I highly recommend this informative and thought provoking book.  Parallels can be drawn to current day when we look at the number of cases of cancer where we have not been able to connect them to any one instigating cause.  One big difference is our current ability to share information, research and case studies in real time via everyday technology so time is not lost.  With so many people suffering, there continues to be much to do.
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A few years ago, the school where I teach performed the play “The Radium Girls,” so this book stood out to me when I heard of its release. I was excited to read more, but confess it took me a bit to get into this. I’m so glad I did, though: this is an amazing account of not just one factory but TWO factories 800 miles apart where women - mostly in their teens and twenties - became victims of radium poisoning and of corporate shenanigans that tried year after year to deny any wrongdoing. The women’s stories take center stage here, and they are heartbreaking and captivating. Excellent research, great storytelling, and certainly, much relevance for us today. A much-needed work of women’s history.
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This book was so sad....I cried in my cubicle at work. I had never heard of the Radium Girls, but they are such an important part of history.
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This is one of the best history books I've read in a long time. I really enjoyed how Kate Moore brought each of the women affected by the radium factory to life so that we can get a glimpse into this important step in creating safe labor laws in America.
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This book was a captivating work of narrative nonfiction that skillfully explored the real possibilities and consequences of valuing production and profits over the health and well-being of workers. The narrative places the reader at the scene and time, and fills them with horror as the number of women affected by their work with hazardous materials grows.
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What a devastating read. It's appalling the lengths the radium companies went to in order to protect their financial interests in radium. Scientists knew of the elements danger as early as 1912; yet, these companies did nothing to prevent or limit exposure to it. Once company denied the element's inherent toxicity and the effects of radiation as late as 1978!

I've known about the Radium Girls, but never knew much about their individual plights. I especially appreciated getting to learn more about painters Grace Fryer and Catherine Donahue, and their lawyers, Raymond Berry and Leonard Grossman. Their stories are, quite simply, the stuff of nightmares. Disintegrating bones, massive sarcomas, whole body parts falling off. It's awful to read, and it's even more awful to remember that a lot of their families went destitute as they went to doctor after doctor in a futile hope of finding a cure. All the while, the companies that poisoned them continued to gaslight them and insist that radium had nothing to do with their illness. 

Despite their own failing bodies and the might of the companies, the girls fought back. And they won. Their motives for doing so were both practical (they needed the money to pay for their mounting medical bills) and altruistic (they wanted to protect the women who came after them). It's inspiring to hear all that they did for generations of workers after them: the medical physics research, the creation of OSHA, and the reduction of nuclear testing in our earth, sea and skies.

The history in this book is great and a must-read. I will say the actual writing was a bit obtrusive at times. The tone seemed to try and match the quick, sensationalist tone of the era. It works sometimes! by the time the trials actually rolled around, you get it. The sheer horror of what the women are going through and the companies' apparent callousness to them does inspire some rather artful editorializing. But sometimes, it doesn't work. At one point, we're told the women's disease had "foxed" the doctors. I'm not sure, but I'm assuming that's slang of the era. The text is also riddled with citations, parentheticals and footnotes. I get that Moore wanted to be thorough in citing her sources; I just wish she could have found a neater, cleaner way of doing so.

Also, I listened to the audiobook while I read. The narrator was ... interesting. I think she was going for that roaring '20s newsies vibe, but it didn't work all of the time. I got used to it, though. By the time I hit the quarter mark, it was fine. If you go that route, be sure to speed her up to at least 1.5; the narration is intolerably slow otherwise.

I definitely recommend this book if you like history, intriguing legal drama and medicine.
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The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore is an incredible non-fiction book by Kate Moore. This book won the Best Historical & Biography 2017 on Goodreads, and for good reason! Moore tells the stories of The Radium Girls, a group of young women who were dial painters during World War 1 and suffered excruciating and devastating effects from ingesting radium while working. The narration follows the courageous young women from when they are happy-go-lucky teenagers, happy to have scored a high paying job dial painting. At the time, Radium was a new discovery and everyone believed that Radium was good for you, so no precautions were taken to protect workers against the Radium. However, even as some of the women started having strange health consequences, they were still told that Radium was not harmful and the reasons they were all getting sick was not from their work. They were being lied to. 

The rest of the book follows these courageous as they undergo painful, debilitating Radium side effects with no cure. Their jaws disintegrate, they grow sarcomas, they get weak, they are riddled with pain, their bones are becoming more and more brittle and yet no one believes them. They begin landmark cases in suing the Radium Dial companies that once employed them and are still saying they are innocent. We see all of the young women joining together in both New Jersey and Ottawa, Illinois as they suffer through fellow friends dying and sue their former employers to finally get justice and some money to help pay their massive medical bills.  

What The Radium Girls did during this time period of the 1920s-1930s was unheard of at the time, and was monumental for women's and worker's rights. These women are not celebrated enough today and this amazing book helps feature these incredible women who suffered insurmountably.
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Unfortunately, I was unable to finish and review this book when I received it, due to some serious family circumstances occurring in my life over the past three years.
However, when I was reading this book I found myself quickly become engaged in it. The prologue was interesting, giving you a sort of backstory to the next scene, which focused on a girl hoping to get a job painting radium onto watch faces. Though nonfiction, this book reads like fiction, with all the details weaved perfectly into the scenes as to create the feeling of a well-developed story.
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Fantastic history of a little known American tragedy. It is hard to believe in today’s world that women could be treated so cruelly by their employers and with such wanton disregard for their life. This was an eye-opening account of those poor women and their crusade for recognition and justice. It is still infuriating all these years later, but at least this account of their torturous end has brought their story to light.
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An interesting shocking story but book felt far too long with too many names. Only towards the end did you distinguish and connect with a few of the women.
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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.         

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

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.
What an amazing read this was.  With so many employees showing telltale signs of health condition- they were still given the blind eye to the serious problem within the workplace.  "Radium was a silent stocker, hiding behind the mask, using it's disguise to burrow deep into the women's bodies.

This story will stay with you long after you have finished the last page.


Hardcover, 479 pages

Published May 2nd 2017 by Sourcebooks  (first published April 18th 2017)  


Original Title

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women


149264935X (ISBN13: 9781492649359) 

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Literary Awards

Lincoln Award Nominee (2019), Goodreads Choice Award for History & Biography (2017) 

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Is it not clear by this point in time that women continue to be abused, in our culture and others, more than enough has been written about it, movies etc exploring the fate of women. Do we need another poor me book. I have not read the Radium Girls and am sure it is a good read from a historic POV, do we not need to focus more on educating our children BOYS and GIRLS, about the power they can wield over their lives? 

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tree  Oddly enough, it's possible to care about more than one thing at a time. And considering that every one of those women died of radium poisoning --…more  


I'm trying to decide whether to buy the Kindle edition or the hardback edition of this book. The deciding factor is if the Kindle edition includes photos, like I believe the hardcover edition does. Can someone tell me this? 

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Carrie  I listened to this book on audio and then did a Google search for some of the women's names. Photographs that had to have been included in the book…more  


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Lists with This Book

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. MaasThe Hate U Give by Angie ThomasEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanA Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabCaraval by Stephanie Garber 
Best Books of 2017

1,510 books — 2,850 voters 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgThe Woman in the Window by A.J. FinnThe Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 
2018: What Women Born In The 1970s Read In 2018

7,005 books — 853 voters 

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Community Reviews

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  4.18   ·  

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 ·  39,946 ratings  ·  6,748 reviews 




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 Chelsea Humphrey 

Sep 19, 2016 Chelsea Humphrey  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: netgalley, from-publisher 

Congratulations-winner of Best Historical & Biography 2017!

I'm going to try and not cry while writing this review. I actually read this one back at the beginning of October, but I was too emotional to write a review straight away and have avoided it since. Sometimes I have trouble with emotions; for many years I avoided some of the richest books with the highest quality stories because I simply was terrified of having to process the heavy feelings behind them. I've slowly begun working on th 


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Feb 04, 2018 Lori  rated it really liked it 


“I can’t laugh about those poor women who painted the clocks,” said Sarah. “That’s one thing I can’t laugh about.”

“Nobody wants you to.” said her grandmother. “You run along now.”

Sarah was referring to an industrial tragedy that was notorious at the time. Sarah’s family was in the middle of it, and sick about it. Sarah had already told me that she was sick about it, and so had her brother, my roommate, and so had their father and mother. The tragedy was a slow one that could not be stopped once




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Jan 21, 2017 Cheri  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction, 1920s, new-jersey, illinois 

4.5 Stars rounded up

I wanted to showcase their shining spirits in a book that would tell their story – not just the story of the famous professionals who had helped them.

I aimed to chart their journey: from the joy of their first lucrative paycheck, through the first aching tooth, to the courage each girl had to find inside herself in order to fight back against the employer who had poisoned her. 

I wanted to walk their routes to work and visit their homes and graves. I wished 


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May 02, 2017 Debra  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: netgalley 

4.5 Stars

Imagine you have your first job. Imagine how proud you are. Or maybe it is not your first job, but it is a fun job where you get to socialize if you get your job done. A job that allows you to do something important for your country. Imagine you are helping your friends and sisters obtain a job as well. Imagine you work with a super cool substance which glows in the dark. A substance you believe is safe - your employer tells you is safe. A substance that one young woman painted on her o 


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May 31, 2017 Carol  rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: kindle, published-2017, netgalley, non-fiction, read-2017, history, favorites 

Whew! What a gut-wrenching read...and fight...for truth and justice!
We start with a short eerie prologue from 1901, and soon see the chilling....never to be forgotten phrase: Lip...Dip...Paint - - - Such frightening words!

THE RADIUM GIRLS is a truly shocking non-fiction read about women in the 1920's who were hired to paint watch dials with a luminous and deadly substance. Young, naive and conscientious, the shining girls kept lip-dipping and painting to achieve that precise point even when symp


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 Pouting Always 

Apr 26, 2017 Pouting Always  rated it really liked it 

I saw a lot of positive reviews for this one so I really wanted to read it and I'm glad I did. During the beginning of the twentieth century radioactive elements were newly discovered and many were excited about the possible curative uses for them. One of the elements radium was used to paint watch dials as well as in many beauty and health products marketed to the masses. When World War I broke out the production of radium painted clocks rose and many more women became employed painting them. T 


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 Diane S ☔ 

May 16, 2017 Diane S ☔  rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition 

What seemed like a fun, good paying job, especially for the times turns into an epic nightmare of pain and suffering for the girls who worked with radium, hand painting dials. My eldest granddaughter lived in Ottawa for a time and it is a town that is quaint, charming and has a great state park, Starved Rock, that we have gone to for years. I never knew about this factory nor anything about the history of these poor girls before this book. The author deserves kudos for bringing this huge miscarr 


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 Evelina | AvalinahsBooks 

Apr 21, 2017 Evelina | AvalinahsBooks  rated it it was amazing 
Recommends it for:  ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE with a heart

Shelves: arcs-or-review-copies, netgalley, books-of-2017, favorites, non-fiction-tbr, women-tbr, illness, radiation 

They were called The Girls With Radioactive Bones. 

There were newspaper headlines such as '  Living Dead' Win In Court'  about them.

And all that – almost a hundred years ago. 

I'm going to tell you a very painful, sad, but strong story of fighting for your rights, for justice, for your honor even. So let's start.

If there was ever a time that I wanted to believe the Christian hell with burning pits of fire,  it would be when reading The Radium Girls.  It's because you can sell anything. You c 


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Dec 30, 2018 Matthew  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: gr_awards_2018, 2018, non-fiction, hoopla, library 

Last audiobook of 2018! This is one where the content pushes it to a 5. If it was not for the content, I probably would have gone with 4 stars.

This is not any easy book to read/listen to. The real life horrors described are terrifying and the total apathy on the part of the companies involved is infuriating. For some, the repetition might get exhausting, but I think the repetition is important. By talking about how the exact same issues went on over and over and over again and how the companies 


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May 20, 2017 Lou  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: non-fiction, reading-challenge-2017 

I found this book very different from anything I've ever read previously. It evoked such emotion with the details it revealed throughout and was both highly readable and thrilling. These women deserve to be recognised for the huge sacrifices they made, all they asked was the same as most of us do now - a steady job with money coming in, yet, what they got turned into something else entirely. Kate Moore did exactly what she set out to do by writing a truly honest and heartbreaking tale of these i 


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May 15, 2017 Erin  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: netgalley 

All the stars for this well researched nonfiction that is just infused with emotion. Kate Moore writes in such a manner that I quickly became immersed in the stories of the American women in the 1920's and 1930's that were exposed to radium poisoning. What these women and their families went through to have the truth heard in the courts and in the country! I felt so furious at the company that refused for so long to admit their wrongdoing. Imagine implying that all these women had died of "Cupid 


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 Nadine Jones 

Sep 16, 2017 Nadine Jones  rated it did not like it 
Shelves: era-early-1900s, history, nj, r2017-in-2017, authors-i-don-t-ever-want-to-read-a, non-fiction, narrative-nonfiction, womens-history, everyone-loved-it-except-me 

I REALLY did not like this. I got so angry reading this because the writing bugged me SO much that I may be somewhat unkind in this review, and I feel bad about that, because I think this is a worthwhile book and Moore's heart was in the right place when she wrote it. But ... Moore's writing style really bugged me. Because, in a book about children and young people working in factories and being poisoned by radium, the last thing I care about is how pretty they were. 

[Katherine Schaub] was an a


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Jun 28, 2018 Jo  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: broke-my-heart, i-love-love-love, inspirational, non-fiction 

It is amazing, what the emotional impact of such a simple thing like reading a book can do to the mind. I finished this book last night before I went to bed, and I was crying. I was crying for the women and their families, I was crying as I learned justice was finally served and mostly, I was crying because I feel so fortunate, that because of these brave, powerful women, that we know more about radium and it's dangers today.
I've had to sleep on this, before writing any words about it. Mostly be 


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 Emily (Books with Emily Fox) 

Sep 11, 2018 Emily (Books with Emily Fox)  rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: audiobooks 

Well this was a rough read!

At around 1h into the audiobook all I could think was... this woman just got a piece of her jaw literally fall, this can get any worse... and it did.

I don't recommend the audiobook. The narrator did a great job but they didn't edit her swallowing half the time and it got annoying sadly!

*As I often do with non fiction... I don't feel comfortable giving a rating to this book.  

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 Brenda - Traveling Sister  

Jun 04, 2017 Brenda - Traveling Sister   rated it really liked it 

Kate Moore’s well-researched true story tells us of the lives of the “shining girls” condersided the luckiest girls alive to have found the most coveted jobs using the “wonder” substance radium to paint dials. We learn of their feelings of joy, excitement, and independence at having such glamorous jobs, to them becoming ill and their bodies starting to deteriorate and then some to their deaths. To others realizing their jobs are causing their illness, to their fight against the companies and the 


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Feb 24, 2018 Bam  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: non-fiction, history, 2018-reads, 2018-netgalley 

Radium, discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, was thought to be 'the wonder element,' a magnificent cure-all that could destroy cancerous tumors and could perhaps be the elixir of youth. 

When added to paint this 'liquid sunshine' could glow in the dark. In 1916, Radium Luminous Materials Corporation opened its doors in Newark, New Jersey and operated a watch dial studio that employed local girls, the daughters and granddaughters of immigrants, as painters. 

One hundred years ago, before O 


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Nov 02, 2017 Juli  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: read-local-library-2017 

In the early 1900s Radium was a sensation. The Curie's discovery was touted as a cure-all, a miracle, a wonder. At the time, little was understood about the side effects of handling Radium, however. 

In an era when most jobs for women were low paying, young women lined up for positions painting clock faces with radium paint. The jobs were high paying and gave them status in their community. The clock faces glowed a radiant green in the dark, making them a popular purchase. These girls sat for hou 


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Jul 05, 2017 Liz  rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition 
Shelves: nonfiction 

Here's another nonfiction book that reads as quickly and easily as a mystery. After a quick prologue about the Curies, the book begins in earnest in 1917 at the watch dial painting factory. What first struck me was that these girls truly were girls, mostly in their teens. Schooling beyond the elementary grades wasn't something the working classes could afford. The book gives a great account not only of the limits of science, but also the limits and willingness of government agencies to pursue em 


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Jun 04, 2017 Marialyce  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: non-fiction 

This book made me cry. It made me cry for the girls who were so brave, so sick, and so dedicated to one another so that the truth would be known. It made me cry for the greed that men, doctors and lawyers showed for these girls to let them suffer so while knowing the dangers of the substance they were working with. It made me cry to think of parents deprived of their daughters, children deprived of their mothers, and husbands deprived of their wives. It made me cry to think of the evil and greed 


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 Dorie - Traveling Sister :) 

Feb 11, 2017 Dorie - Traveling Sister :)  rated it really liked it 
Shelves: netgalley-feedback, non-fiction, history 

This is the first non fiction book I’ve read in a long time and it is a good one. I had never read anything about the tragedy that consumed a large number of young women working with radium, painting dials on clocks and other instrument panels.

In the beginning radium was actually being hailed as a “health wonder” but it was soon discovered by many of the scientists working with radium that it could indeed be very dangerous. The young women took these jobs, offered by large factories, because the 


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Feb 26, 2017 Vicki  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: non-fiction, netgalley 

I had never heard of the radium girls I had seen the glowing green dials of clocks when I was a girl. We had a Westclox alarm clock in my room. The glow at night allows us to know when we could sleep longer. I never knew that was radium making it glow. 

I also had no clue that girls, teenage girls had risked and lost their lives painting the numbers with a radium based paste to provide that glow. 

This well researched book tells of the women that faced an agonizing death because of the companies d 


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May 11, 2017 Julie  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: 2017, e-book, history, netgalley 

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore is a 2017 Sourcebooks publication. 

“Luminous Processes, declared the local paper, seems to put profits before people.” 
‘How quickly we forget.’

Only the most hard -hearted among us could read this book without shedding tears. So be warned this book is not for the faint of heart and while the bravery of these young ladies is certainly inspirational, the anger and frustration I felt about their untimely and excruciating death 


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 Tina Haigler 

Jan 23, 2019 Tina Haigler  rated it really liked it 
Shelves: non-fiction 

Review to come 😊  

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Oct 05, 2017 Barbara  rated it really liked it 

4.5 stars

As early as World War I 'glow in the dark' gauges and watch dials became vital to soldiers. These were manufactured by painting the faces of the devices with compounds containing the radioactive element radium. At the time, the dangers of fissionable elements was unknown, and - in fact - radium was touted as a boon to good looks and good health.

After the war - in the 1920s - large factories sprang up to feed the growing demand for the gauges, watches, and 'wellness products' containing 


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Jan 12, 2019 Beverly  rated it really liked it 

As Harry Truman said, "The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know." I never heard of this story until reading about this book on Goodreads. I am always amazed by how far people will go for money. This company, the United States Radium Corporation was willing to let these poor girls and women suffer horrible, excruciatingly slow deaths to make their millions. 

At first, radium was little understood and was thought of as a wonder drug, but then more and more data came in to say 


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 Mariah Roze 

Sep 06, 2018 Mariah Roze  rated it it was amazing 
Recommended to Mariah Roze by:  Matt 

Shelves: diversity-in-all-forms-book-club 

I read this book for the Goodreads' Book Club Diversity in All Forms! If you'd like to participate in the discussion here is the link:

This book was fantastic. I couldn't believe this was something that happened in the United States and I had never even heard about it before. There has never been any mention of the factors when learning about World War 1. As a teacher, I hope that I can definitely change that. As a former student I would get bored and sick 


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 Jill McGill 

Apr 10, 2017 Jill McGill  rated it it was amazing 
Shelves: netgalley, nonfiction 

"I wanted to showcase their shining spirits in a book that would tell their story – not just the story of the famous professionals who had helped them."

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore is a powerful and heart-breaking story about young girls who worked in radium-dial painting factories in the early 1900's where they painted luminous dials on watches and clocks. At that time everyone was told radium was healthy, some would say a miracle, and they were encouraged to drink it to cure many illnesses - 


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Oct 24, 2017 Erin  rated it really liked it 
Shelves: october-2017 

In the teens and 1920's one of the best jobs a young woman could get involved an exciting and new substance called Radium. Radium was a sparkling and glowing new wonder that was used in watches, clocks, weapons, and makeup. According to the companies that used it, Radium was completely harmless. They were lying and more importantly they knew it was deadly and worked for 40 years to cover it up. 

The Radium Girls is a horrifying and disturbing read. This book illustrates why government oversight a 


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Mar 01, 2019 Nick  marked it as to-read 

so glad I found this book  

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 Macy_Novels at Night 

Aug 06, 2018 Macy_Novels at Night  rated it really liked it 

I read this book as part of a book club, having never heard of it before. I am going to make the assumption that like myself, many other people have been left in the dark in learning about this piece of history, no pun intended. I think I made the mistake by listening to this book on audible, rather than reading it myself. The writing style of the author was exquisite, but I did not love the tone of the woman who read it. The story itself was wonderfully written and I found myself tearing up hea  ...more  

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The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women


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About Kate Moore


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The Radium Girls [Excerpt] 
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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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