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

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  70,146 ratings  ·  10,256 reviews

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, hund

...more
Hardcover, 479 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Sourcebooks (first published April 18th 2017)
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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 -- man…moreOddly 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 -- many before their court battles could do them any good -- it's hardly a "poor me" book. If you want to educate children about "the power they can wield over their lives" then this is a great book to start with. It's the true story of hundreds of women (and some men) who stood up and refused to be cowed by corporations and public opinion for the benefit of all the women who would come after them. They changed the law. If that doesn't teach someone about taking control over their lives then they can't be taught.(less)
Kathlyn Terrible book. It was a story my husband and I really wanted to read as we are physicists specialising in medical physics: nuclear medicine, radiother…moreTerrible book. It was a story my husband and I really wanted to read as we are physicists specialising in medical physics: nuclear medicine, radiotherapy and radiation protection (hubs was even on the national emergency team for major incidents involving radiation).

We struggled on with the awful writing style but when it got to Moore's explanation of the physics we were horrified. She mixed up completely alpha, beta and gamma radiation; confused rays and particles and totally ommitted the very salient fact that radium, like samarium and plutonium, is a bone seeker. A five minute conversation with an expert would have clarified - hell, even five minutes on google would have left her better informed.

After that she lost any credibility at all. Audio book returned to library unfinished. After all those women went through and she couldn't even be bothered to try to get the most basic facts right. (less)

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Chelsea Humphrey
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 this i
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Lori
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
description
“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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Nadine Jones
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
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Cheri
!! NOW AVAILABLE !!
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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Debra
May 02, 2017 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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Diane S ☔
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 ...more
Carol
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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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE with a heart
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 an
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Always Pouting
Apr 26, 2017 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 ...more
Matthew
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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Peter
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
What a brilliant and interesting book on the greatest scandal in the watch industry ever. Here you come across the dangers of radium and dial painting. You'll read the shocking progression of the radium disease in the female workers and how their job turned into a nightmare. This is really moving. The author did a brilliant job with her book and her thorough research of all the biographies and persons involved in. When more and more workers got ill (the medical history is meticulously drawn here ...more
Lou
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪SomeBunny Reads (Phoenix)•*¨*•♫♪
Lip… Dip… Paint.



In the 1920s, dozens of healthy, young, working-class women (some as young as 14) were employed in a newly-born business: painting with radium, the marvelous material the Curies had isolated 20 years prior. At the time, this fluorescent wonder was believed so beneficial for the body, that medications, aesthetic treatments and even toiletry items had started to employ it. In 1923, given you had enough money to afford it, you could spend a day at the spa, bathing in radium-infused
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Erin
May 15, 2017 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 ...more
~The Bookish Redhead~
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)
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.
Tina Haigler
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"THE SCIENTIST HAD FORGOTTEN ALL ABOUT THE RADIUM."

Ok. So I've put off writing this review for a while, simply because every time I go to write it, I get angry, and just end up ranting about the horror and injustice of it all. So I'm going to write this damn thing and try not to simply rage the whole time. Therefore, I make absolutely no promises about the quality of this review, but here goes.

This was not an easy read. It made me stark raving mad. I'm talking want to throw things at people, pun
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Julie
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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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Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
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 ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
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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Liz
Jul 05, 2017 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 ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
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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Barbara
Oct 05, 2017 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.




Clock with radium dial

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.


Radium was touted as a boon to health

After the war - in the 1920s - large factories sprang up to feed the growing demand f
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Monica
Radium Girls was a horrific example of how corporations put profits over people and how they are enabled by the local and governing authorities who were in effect purchased by the wealthy corporations. It heavily indicts the very wealthy settling once and for all the idea that they really don't care about workers. In this instance they exploited poor, uneducated, young, white women, which is somehow, not the least bit surprising. As we all wait amid the COVID 19 pandemic, I can't help but see th ...more
Marialyce
Jun 04, 2017 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 ...more
Juli
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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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Vicki
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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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Rebecca McNutt
This somber story chronicles the lives of the Radium Girls, female factory workers exposed to large quantities of radium by the men who assured them that it was harmless. Trying to get the factory to take full responsibility, this women's fight for justice was wracked with scandal, denial and cover-ups, but it's ultimately a story of hope and power reclaimed.
Greta
What is the first thing you think, when you hear the word “radium”?

I bet you think about Marie Curie and her death, but this story is actually much worse and started before Curie died.

This book tells about the radium girls, female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting on watches with radium containing paint, briefly after it was discovered. The woman ingested deadly amounts, when they pointed the brushes on their lips to wet them, which is something they did hundreds
...more
Beverly
Jan 12, 2019 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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Articles featuring this book

When it comes to making the perfect book club selection, you can't go wrong by listening to your fellow readers. So, we c...
75 likes · 54 comments
“The cynical would say there was only one reason a high-profile specialist finally took up the cause. On June 7, 1925, the first male employee of the United States Radium Corporation died.” 19 likes
“And Grace Fryer was never forgotten. She is still remembered now—you are still remembering her now. As a dial-painter, she glowed gloriously from the radium powder; but as a woman, she shines through history with an even brighter glory: stronger than the bones that broke inside her body; more powerful than the radium that killed her or the company that shamelessly lied through its teeth; living longer than she ever did on earth, because she now lives on in the hearts and memories of those who know her only from her story.

Grace Fryer: the girl who fought on when all hope seemed gone; the woman who stood up for what was right, even as her world fell apart. Grace Fryer, who inspired so many to stand up for themselves.”
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