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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  97,393 ratings  ·  12,794 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

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)
Yaaresse You've probably already decided, but in case someone else needs to know, the photos are in the back of the Kindle edition. There are 35 photos in the …moreYou've probably already decided, but in case someone else needs to know, the photos are in the back of the Kindle edition. There are 35 photos in the Kindle edition. Most are very small and somewhat grainy, so you'll have to tap each on and enlarge it to really see much. (One of the few annoying flaws of e-books.) About a dozen are of some of the women from the book and often have one picture of them very young (teens) and one as an adult. There are maybe four that show sarcoma or other conditions and appear to be from medical journals. Five are of the professionals (lawyers and doctors). The rest are either candid shots from company outings, from the court proceedings, or from newspaper articles. All are well described in the text.

So I guess the answer depends on how important the pictures are to you. They're probably bigger and clearer in the print edition, but if easy access to footnotes are more important to you, you might want to go with the Kindle edition. because there are a LOT of footnotes. (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
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
Feb 04, 2018 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
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
When radium was first discovered, no one really knew for sure what it did. Soon, however, companies latched onto its lucrative potential when it became known that radium mixed in paint had a glow-in-the-dark quality. Hundreds of girls were employed to paint watch dials and instrument panels with this magical, luminescent paint.

The girls took no precautions. They were instructed to lick the paint brushes to bring the bristles to a sharp point in order to do their jobs effectively and to prevent
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
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
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
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

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
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
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
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
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
by Kate Moore (Author), Angela Brazil (Narrator)

Using original interviews, diaries, letters, and court accounts, Kate Moore brings us the true stories of the working class women who were harmed (to put it mildly) by the radium paint that they used to do their jobs at companies that produced lighted dials for watches, clocks and military equipment. As time passed it became obvious that many of the women were suffering from devastating ill
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still Glowing in Their Coffins

Factory women painting radium containing paint on whatches, so that they would glow in the dark

What do you think about, when you hear radiation poisoning?
Probably the death of Marie Curie, the atom bombs and Chernobyl. But the story of the "Radium girls", as they were called by the media, was just as bad and happened even earlier.

Meant are the female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch dials with self-luminous and radium containin
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
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪
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
It is amazing that 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
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
**** This is an older book but one that I keep remembering, it's definitely worth the read

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

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
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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
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
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
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
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
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
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
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The research is extensive and impeccable in this historical, non fictional account of the use (misuse and abuse) of radium at the turn of the century. I was unaware of the radium girls and the factories that employed them. Therefore, I feel enlightened, if not enraged, by the corporate greed, the lack of safety standards, and the poor communication between scientists, management, and doctors. Consumer advocacy has improved greatly in the last 100 years, thank God. The lower rating is due to the ...more
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The last five years of world history have been nothing if not...eventful. When living in interesting times, there's nothing better for...
79 likes · 14 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.” 24 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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