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GROUP READS > The Radium Girls

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message 1: by SRC Moderator (new)

SRC Moderator | 5313 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the Fall 2018 Group Read The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore. Please post your comments here. This thread is not restricted to those choosing this book for task 20.10, feel free to join in the discussion. Warning- spoilers ahead!

The requirement for task 20.10: You must participate in the book's discussion thread below with at least one post about the contents of the book or your reaction to the book after you have read the book.


message 2: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 1437 comments I'm about a third of the way through. It's both really good and horrifying.


message 3: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) | 542 comments I read it for the spring challenge and really liked it. The girls fate was horrifying.


message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 1437 comments Extremely well written, in my opinion. These women went through so much and fought for all of us today. I'm amazed at what they managed to accomplish and bring about in health and safety and workers rights.

I'm attaching a link to a statue that was dedicated to The Radium Girls in 2011, well overdue, but notably unveiled on Labor Day in Ottawa, Illinois.

I've also submitted a request through WorldCat to hopefully receive a copy of the documentary Radium City. There are so few copies available.

http://kklobucher.blogspot.com/2011/0...


message 5: by Bianca (new)

Bianca Rose (biancarose) | 249 comments I found this book completely riveting! I was crying on the train. I really liked how the author gave the girls dimension by speaking about them as personalities. What an absolute tragic waste of life for some pretty glow in the dark watches! I cannot believe (I can but it is horrifying) that businesses are able to treat their workers in such a callous and heartless manner. I cannot believe the law let them get away with it and so many women were told by PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL STAFF that they did not have radium poisoning. I cannot believe that people can be so evil as the lawyers in this book.

I have recommended this book to so many people because I was so overwhelmed by its content.


message 6: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7887 comments i'm reading this now, although its been languishing on my TBR pile for a while - i remember when we read The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York a few seasons ago - it actually touched on the radium girls in one of the chapters and i remember at the time thinking that i would be interested to read more about them

i'm only about 15% of the way though - but horrifying is a good description, especially as they talk about about the girls jaws just disintegrating in the hands of the doctors and dentists


message 7: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (pamela3265) | 981 comments I read this during the summer challenge. I was horrified by the actions of the corporations, their lawyers, and some of the medical professionals. However, I was inspired by the strength of the women and their families. They certainly deserve to be remembered for improving the working conditions of future employees.


message 8: by Denise (new)

Denise (lifewithnoplot) | 71 comments I don't usually read much non-fiction. I just have found that I don't enjoy it as much, but I couldn't put this down. Those women were so brave and so unbelievably strong! I don't know that I would have been able to do what they did. The fact that they kept fighting, even though they knew that they were doomed, just to try and make sure others didn't share their fate, is so inspiring. I'm so glad that they are getting recognition like this. I would never have known about them otherwise.


message 9: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7887 comments i finished this up on my flight home from Rhode Island yesterday - the depth that the author went in describing the effects of radium on the body was shocking - and rightly so - to see how horrible these women were treated by their employers and the legal system! But when the USRC lost its application at the Supreme Court to try and overturn the IIR verdict was good!

i'd be interested to go to Ottawa, Illinois and see the statue of the radium girls.






message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Fazekas | 171 comments I first heard about the Radium Girls on an episode of Dark Matters: Twisted but True, an anthology show highlighting macabre incidents, particularly horrid scientific experiments. When I saw this book at the bookstore, I flashed back to that episode and decided I wanted to know more. I picked up the book, but hadn't read it until now. The TV episode played up the sensationalistic parts of the story but as I read this, I found that they barely scratched the surface of these women’s suffering and strength and the dishonesty of the companies.

I read quite a bit of history and biography and in the discussion of what people did it’s easy to lose sight of them as people. Kate Moore doesn’t do that here. For her (and as a consequence, the reader) these women are people first. They are someone’s little girl, someone’s beloved wife, a devoted friend, sister, mother. They were people first, just ordinary, everyday people like me who happened to do something extraordinary in the face of horrific suffering.

These women, and their families, deserve to be known and celebrated for all they did and their willingness to sacrifice for the good of others.


message 11: by Sandy (last edited Sep 11, 2018 03:25PM) (new)

Sandy | 16693 comments Mod
I, too, was riveted by the story, but even more disturbed by the way a lot of this hasn't changed. The way many of the doctors kept saying, "oh, we don't think any of this has anything to do with radium" - well, I've encountered much the same thing in my work representing veterans - it's incredibly difficult to get disability for radiation exposure, because they keep denying that anything much can be caused by it. Same thing with Agent Orange exposure - if there aren't big studies showing a connection with the specific problem, it's a long, uphill battle..

The other thing that I kept noticing was how medical people seemed to feel free to do whatever they wanted to the women, and not tell them anything about findings (and this is even beyond the test results that they withheld and lied about).

And, finally, I kept thinking about the recurring theme in so many fairy tales/mythology/fantasy, when women are sacrificed to the gods or a dragon or whatever, to give the people of the town more safety/prosperity. When the people in the town got so upset with the women suing because the dial painting factory was the key employer in town - you got the feeling that their medical problems were an acceptable sacrifice to keep a working factory during the depression......................


message 12: by Karen Michele (last edited Sep 11, 2018 06:53PM) (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 1792 comments I was intrigued by this book, even though I remembered quite a bit about The Radium Girls from the play Radium Girls: A Play in Two Acts by D.W. Gregory that I read about 4 years ago. I noticed, as others have mentioned, that Moore's powerful writing not only covered the facts and was well researched, but she also did an excellent job bringing in the human and emotional side of the story. I have a lot of empathy for what these women went through and am saddened that their experience hasn't totally eradicated the problem. I do not read much nonfiction, but this is the type of factual narrative writing that I find just as gripping as great fiction.


message 13: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7887 comments Sandy wrote: "I, too, was riveted by the story, but even more disturbed by the way a lot of this hasn't changed. The way many of the doctors kept saying, "oh, we don't think any of this has anything to do with r..."

yes! my endocrionologist/surgeon is fairly sure that my thyroid cancer was caused by my deployment to IRaq...but getting the VA to acknowledge that...not likely


message 14: by Diana (new)

Diana Keener | 799 comments The first I ever heard of these poor girls was a few seasons back when we read The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York as a group read. But then I didn't realize the full extent of the horrific effects on these poor young women and how cold hearted and deceptive the companies and those working on their behalf were.


The book does a great job of both presenting the factual information and letting us get to know the individuals as people with hopes, dreams, plans that were cut short cruelly


It's also a good reminder of why regulation is often needed. Companies oftentimes are not good at self policing themselves and putting the public good above profits.


message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (bookwrm526) | 1507 comments Bookwrm526

I have had this book on my TBR for a long time, and my book club read it a few months ago but I couldn't make it to the meeting, so I didn't read it at the time. I'm glad I finally got to it.

It is a horrifying story that I knew the broad outlines of, but I was not aware of how complicit the companies were, how much they knew about the dangers of radium and when they knew it! The post script was absolutely horrifying, and a clear reminder of why we need regulations.

I was very glad that the book centered the women's lives and those of their families rather than simply going with the legal and medical stories alone. The context made the story incredibly powerful.


message 16: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (drsophie) | 368 comments I'm someone who doesn't often read non-fiction, but I found this completely engrossing. As others have said, the author really sucks you in and shows how the girls suffered and what strength they must have had to keep fighting.

It makes me wonder how many similar things are going on now, that we will only see the full harm of in 15-20 years time.

I found the comments that the results were being kept from the women by their drs very hard to take.


message 17: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 866 comments The medical details in this were often just Too Much for me; I had a hard time reading this. But what an engrossing narrative despite that - the depths the USRC etc went to in their cover ups / profiteering! And like Sandy & Dee said, how very little has changed in some respects.


message 18: by Nicola (last edited Sep 24, 2018 06:27AM) (new)

Nicola | 1415 comments I read this this morning - it was such an engrossing book. As others have commented 'how little things have changed' - in the States anyway. Companies want money and don't really care how they go about it. Outside pressure is always needed to hold them to account because they certainly won't do it themselves! 'Self regulation' is just another way of saying 'Kill who you like, pollute where you will, just keep those profit margins high!'.


message 19: by Meg (new)

Meg (megscl) | 1823 comments I thought this topic was really interesting and I'm glad I got to learn about the radium women. But I didn't love the book. I felt like it was jumping around a bit. Some things had too much detail, some not enough.


message 20: by Ava Catherine (new)

Ava Catherine | 1544 comments Ava Catherine

Although this is my second reading, I truly enjoyed this reading as much as the first. Kate Moore describes the suffering of the radium girls in such graphic passages that is often difficult to read; however, it is an important story that made lasting changes in safety protection for employees such as the formation of OSHA. I was also impress by the bravery of these young girls. Instead of taking to their beds and giving up, they pursued medical answers and then addressed legal recourse.

It is horrifying to believe that the employers claimed that radium was benign at the beginning of the process when these executives knew that radium was harmful. After the toxicity had been documented, these employers blamed the radium girls for careless use even though the women were observing workplace protocols. A few physicians, public health investigators, and lawyers obtained some monetary compensation for the victims, but the money fell short of sufficient justice.

This is a well written, well researched book, and although it is nonfiction, it reads like a narrative. Moore clearly differentiates the villains and heroines and doesn't conceal her outrage at the injustice.


message 21: by Nikki (new)

Nikki | 258 comments This book had been sitting on my shelf to read for awhile. When I decided to jump back into the challenge after a long break, I was encouraged to read it seeing it as a group read.

I consider it dark history, and I enjoy reading about dark history. It may seem morbid, but these darker parts of history teach me more than any other history. These events show how horrible incidents transform not only how we as humans change and adapt to trauma, but how it actually affects individuals.

These girls were only seeking the American dream of being prosperous and at the time, doing their civic duty by helping during the war. What happened to these poor girls, how it affected themselves and their families is devastating . By following work protocol and what they were instructed to do, they risked their lives without knowing it.

I enjoyed the book and the easy flow of the book. It wasn't bogged down as some nonfiction is to me, and the author really brought the girls in the book to life.


message 22: by Melissa (last edited Oct 04, 2018 10:28AM) (new)

Melissa (melissaboedigheimer) | 0 comments SweetMelissa

What a book! I cannot tell you how many times I just shook my head and could only say "Wow!" at what was happening to these women and how the companies treated them.

It scares me to think how easily we could slip back into this type of culture if regulations are not kept in place and enforced.


message 23: by Amy the book-bat (new)

Amy the book-bat (batkisses) | 201 comments Nikki wrote: "I consider it dark history, and I enjoy reading about dark history. It may seem morbid, but these darker parts of history teach me more than any other history. These events show how horrible incidents transform not only how we as humans change and adapt to trauma, but how it actually affects individuals. ..."

I completely agree!

It is so interesting how a dark situation or event so often becomes inspirational. The "triumph of human spirit" to right wrongs and find ways to survive.

I agree with what so many have already said about the writing and bringing these women to life for us. Often historical nonfiction can be dry, but this book was engrossing. The audio edition was well produced as well.


message 24: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7887 comments i just got done catching up on Call the Midwife and similar to this - they had a storyline around the babies affected by Thalidomine - and how even though it was known for 4-5years prior about the deformities it was causing (in Germany) - no one in England or the United States were told - cases continued to be fought up through the 80's/90's


message 25: by Shala (new)

Shala | 72 comments I saw a production of this last year, so when I saw it was a group read, I knew I had to pick it up. Those women were absolutely amazing, and I can't believe what they had to go through. Great book. So glad I read it, and now I want to adapt it for a dramatic duet for my speech team.


message 26: by Cat (new)

Cat (cat_uk) | 2567 comments I'm overwhelmed by the resilience these women showed, in the face of such horror - of their bodies falling apart - literally! and of company indifference.

The post-script at the end was also harrowing - that people were still suffering radium poisoning at work in the late 1970s.... it just beggars belief.

A powerful well-written book


message 27: by Donna (last edited Oct 19, 2018 07:53PM) (new)

Donna | 1272 comments This isn't the kind of Horror I like to read for Halloween.

I was glued to this book even though it hurt my heart. Those poor girls. It pains me to read how some people can discard the lives of others just to make a few bucks. The sad thing is that even in our day, we don't have to scour the news media to find similar stories. So Sad.


message 28: by Tawallah (new)

Tawallah | 144 comments Jam town 80

I first heard about this book when the author was interviewed on History Extra podcast. The story sounds awful for the girls who thought they had a prestigious job but were unaware of the potential dangers. And the company knew of the dangers. So far, enjoying the audiobook narrated by the author who is doing a great job.


message 29: by Amy (new)

Amy | 1422 comments Amy FL

The cruelty these women endured was just unconscionable. They were lied to by so many people they thought they could trust, and then left to die slowly and painfully. They showed such strength, determination and grace under the most horrifying of circumstances. I don't know that I loved the way the book was written, but the plight of the women certainly stayed with me after I was done reading.


message 30: by Diane Whitney (new)

Diane Whitney | 570 comments I enjoyed listening to this amazing story of human resilience and perseverance in the face of corporate greed and indifference. What happened to these girls was unconscionable and stories like this need to be told because history tends to repeat itself. So we as a society can admit to and learn from past "mistakes" and NEVER allow them to happen again because as far as I can tell, especially in the US, very little has changed.


message 31: by Tawallah (new)

Tawallah | 144 comments JAMTOWN 80

Having finished this audiobook, I'm horrified by the words lick, dip, brush. I didn't think this would work for a spooky read but it did. Despite the horrific effects on the girls i was so happy to see how their family or husbands fought alongside them. That their legacy is health and safety helps a little to offset their sacrifice. Great to know they helped to stop another generation of women in the atomic age were saved.


message 32: by S.L. (last edited Nov 04, 2018 07:47AM) (new)

S.L. Berry | 370 comments Scooter&Siam -- Readerboard Name

A horrific account of employer abuse of its employees, yet inspiring for what the dial painter's struggles accomplished for future generations. I will never look at an illuminated dial again and not think of these women. I am glad this book was chosen as one the group reads. It was one of the most well-written but hardest books to get through because of the graphic and necessary nature of the insidious nature of radium poisoning and what it does to the human body.


message 33: by Andrea (new)

Andrea This was a worthwhile read - such a sad story of greed and negligence. What a horrible, excruciating sickness and death these young women experienced. So glad their story was told. Sadly, while we are more careful and aware, I still think workers get sacrificed for the good of business interests.


message 34: by Tess (new)

Tess (tessavanessa) | 1525 comments WOW! My boys gave me this book for Mother's Day this year. It's been sitting there waiting for me to read it so I was happy when it was chosen as one of our group reads.

I never knew this story at all. This is the kind of history that I would have found interesting in school. I grew outraged at the outright lying of the companies and their continued denial of their part in these women's death. The strength and determination of the women who took on the companies was very inspiring.

This book is 5 star in my opinion.


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