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The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
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Monthly Group Reads > The Radium Girls (September 2018)

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Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
The diversity topic we cover in September is Historical Event

The Radium Girls The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore


Erin This was such a good book. I read it last year. It broke my heart and really shocked me that this part of history isn't more widely known about.


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments I read this book a little while back. It's shocking. From my review:

"This book was very distressing to read - so disturbing In fact, that I had to take periodic breaks. The dismissive and uncaring stance of the guilty parties is almost incomprehensible, and they did it all for profit! And later on, when the companies were ordered to clean up the defunct factory sites, which seethed with radioactivity, they refused (or contributed a token few dollars). Unbelievable!"


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
Started this today!


message 5: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat (katwiththehat) | 48 comments I read this and need to do a reread and write a review. The most shocking thing for me was how callous the company owners could be towards the girls, knowing and seeing they were getting sick, so many of them participating in small ways, "oh, don't dip in your mouth... but everyone does it and if you don't make your quota..." or hiding their results when they could see they were getting sick. Of course, things like this are still going on today when big industry and special interest groups buy off people in power to get their way, no matter what it does to the worker. A really important book.


message 6: by Kay Dee (new) - added it

Kay Dee (kdf_333) | 64 comments katwiththehat wrote: "Of course, things like this are still going on today when big industry and special interest groups buy off people in power to get their way, no matter what it does to the worker."

i think things like this will always go on. as long as there are powerful people with no morals and no accountability. since folks love money and can be bribed to look the other way instead of enforcing regulations/laws....

but there will also always be brave people willing to expose the wrongs and make them right.


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments I agree Kay Dee. There will always be greedy people who have no compunction about who gets hurt.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
Especially the big companies that they put in 3rd-World countries. There’s a lot of problem with the health of the workers.


message 9: by Kay Dee (new) - added it

Kay Dee (kdf_333) | 64 comments Mariah wrote: "Especially the big companies that they put in 3rd-World countries. There’s a lot of problem with the health of the workers."

not just in developing nations. abuses happen in Europe and in North America. one of the reasons i am so against illegal immigration in the usa is becasue many are being used like slaves. they cannot go to authorities becasue they are here illegally or their passport and other identification was taken by their new "boss." (https://www.theguardian.com/world/201...) that's not even mentioning the ones who arrive to their new jobs only to discover they are being prostituted instead. (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/09/...)

there are sweat shops right here in the usa and canada. Amazon's warehouses are a big one. not as many illegals but the workers are treated like slaves. (https://www.businessinsider.com/amazo...)

that is why we have to expose it and fight for the regulations and laws we already have to be enforced.


Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'? (whatchatreadin) Erin wrote: "This was such a good book. I read it last year. It broke my heart and really shocked me that this part of history isn't more widely known about."

I agree with you on that. I didn't know anything about this before reading the book.


message 11: by Hala (new)

Hala Elaila Lol I’m half way through the book theif it came perfectly for the theme


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments The level of corruption of the people in this book is astounding. That doctors, dentists, and lawyers would assist in this mass fraud is unconscionable. They apparently didn't care about the suffering of these women, or that more people would be affected if factories didn't change their practices.


message 13: by Gina (last edited Sep 05, 2018 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gina I read this book in March and the story wrapped itself around my heartstrings, refusing to let go. The story revolves around the discovery of the new, mysterious (and glowing) compound known as radium. The girls referred to in the title were the so-called lucky ones who landed dream jobs of painting the substance onto watch dials, where it's beautiful glow made the watches easier to read.

From my 5-star review:

This sudden demand for glowing watch dials leads to thousands of girls, some as young as 14, trying to get a highly-paid job painting the dials in factories. Radium dust is everywhere, and the girls are called "shining girls" because they are glowing as they walk home in the darkness. The job is coveted due to the pay, which was quite high at the time. The job can also be fun, as they "paint" their teeth and faces with the substance. Little did they know then that every dip into the paint, every time they licked the brushes, they were signing their own death warrants.

Then....the girls start falling seriously ill. Their teeth and jaws begin to rot. These young ladies were taught the quickest and best way to paint the dials is to dip their tiny brushes into the radium, paint the numbers, then insert the brushes into their mouths to get them to a point again, and on and on. Every time they did this, they were introducing the poison into their bodies.

What amazes me is that these girls and their sad fate are not better known. I am sure that there are people still who are working at jobs that are slowly taking their lives in various industries - and we will say the same things about them a century from now.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
Someone messaged me their comments and here they are:

"I think the biggest tragedy is that these things are still happening, mostly in new world countries. Just recently I read about the Chinese workers in the mobile phone industry suffering permament neurological damage from chemicals. We just don't learn!"


Barbara (cinnabarb) | 55 comments Mariah wrote: "Someone messaged me their comments and here they are:

"I think the biggest tragedy is that these things are still happening, mostly in new world countries. Just recently I read about the Chinese w..."


That's so true Mariah. It's just greed.


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
Finished this book yesterday and LOVED it! I couldn't put it down!

Here is my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 444 comments I fear this kind of fatal exploitation will never be eliminated. Ever. We still don't know much about this true event in a country which prides itself on human rights, and we have civil and criminal laws against worker exploitation as well, but even American and Canadian reporters still suppress stories like this one because of local fears of job losses. Ask yourself why is this important and horrible story not taught in most history classes?

Most countries do not even have worker protection laws that Canada and America have. It is obvious Money and Gender and Power matter most everywhere, even where there are laws against such moral evil. The radium girls were murdered. Full stop. Unions are the only sure defense - and unions are a dying institution in America. Voter interest in candidates who support workers is rare - voting is now at 15-30% of registered voters locally and nationally. Why do workers not do anything, even today? Everyday I read about some corporation being caught destroying the health of its employees. We do nothing - then and now.


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Kay Dee (kdf_333) | 64 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Why do workers not do anything, even today? Everyday I read about some corporation being caught destroying the health of its employees. We do nothing - then and now. "

short answer
fear, complacency, ignorance, and greed.

long answer
fear- scared of losing job (assets), friends, reputation, cost of the fight, length of the fight, etc. if they are illegal immigrants fears are even higher. if you don't have a group who are willing to risk it all then the one individual is not likely to even try. or maybe they complained or reported the abuse but then nothing happened and they were punished. so they stop for fear of worse things happening. also the ones in the organization who see the wrongs and know it's abuse have the same fears with the added bonus of it not affecting their loved ones. so they have even less of an incentive to risk everything to put a stop to it.

complacency- people don't like conflict. people like to stay in their comfort zone. we really are like sheep with a herd mentality. nobody else is complaining so i won't complain. everybody else is making do and surviving so i'll do the same. the old "it's always been this way and nothing will ever change." mindset. i'll just work, and do my day to day. i'm not a hero. i'm just a normal person. also most folks are followers not leaders. everybody has the potential to be a leader but few will do so. it's easier to follow. bosses are in charge so they just do what they say, like sheep.

ignorance- folks who would fight the abuse and report it, don't know. like the girls didn't know. eventually many, many, many people knew and could have stopped it. but laws and regulations don't happen unless elected officials know they need to make them. we were not taught about this in history class. it wasn't one of the examples given when they talk about how labor laws, OSHA, and unions came about. just like folks don't understand why it's so bad when republicans repeal regulations on banks. most (not all) get it when they repeal environmental regulations. my mom worked for FDIC when the housing crisis happened. she said the analysts at the FDIC knew it would happen becasue of the deregulation. now they are doing the same to certain labor laws under the guise of helping small business. when a lot of regulations they are messing with don't concern companies that have a workforce under 100 people. so some folks are fighting it but republican voters would fight it too if they knew and understood how detrimental deregulation is for the regular joe working man.

greed- the love of money really is the root of all evil. love of money made all those folks who knew the harmful effects of the radium to stay silent. even more than their fear of losing everything. they valued money over human life. very selfish and unfortunately very human.


message 19: by Joy (new)

Joy (audioaddict1234) | 53 comments Is this book nonfiction? Or “based on a true story”? Does it read like a story?

I’m just trying to decide if I can get to it this month. I have 3 nonfiction books going already. I may have to put it off.


message 20: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat (katwiththehat) | 48 comments It's definitely nonfiction. I will say I found the format more "story-like" than some of the other nonfictions I've read recently, which got a little dry.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 444 comments It is non-fiction. It reads like a fiction to some degree. It is based on actual documentation and pictures are included, particularly cancer tumors.


message 22: by Joy (new)

Joy (audioaddict1234) | 53 comments Thanks for the info.


Megan | 119 comments My library hold finally came in🎉so I look forward to joining the discussion months late😉


Mariah Roze (mariahroze) | 1408 comments Mod
Megan wrote: "My library hold finally came in🎉so I look forward to joining the discussion months late😉"

Yay!! It is definitely worth the wait.


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