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The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (2016)
by Kate Moore
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Such an interesting tale. I felt the author was overly dramatic about the radium companies. Yes, they were horrible, but many companies in a similar situation are similarly prone to denial and cover up.
A heartbreaking story of the young girls that worked with radium during the 1920's and 1930's. They were never told how dangerous it was while being trained to paint the dials with a paintbrush that was pointed by being put into their mouths. The pain, disfigurement and deaths of these young women was horrific. Their bravery in making sure the truth was brought out was inspiring.
The novel by Kate Moore is an amazing and difficult read. She chronicles the duplicity and cover up of companies who hired young girls to paint the faces of watches with radium so they would glow in the dark - and covered up the illnesses that occurred as a result of radium poisoning. The graphic depictions of these girls bodies as they deteriorate as a result of ingested radium is troubling indeed. However, there is triumph and courage in these pages as well - those who put conscience ahead of personal gain, the families who stayed with them and nursed them, the bonds of friendship between these women, and their final triumphs is very sobering and uplifting. I highly recommend this book to readers.
The story was interesting and important but wow this was so much longer than it needed to be.
As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" were considered the luckiest alive--until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America's biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)363.17 — Social sciences Social problems and services; associations Other social problems and services Public safety programs Hazardous materials
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Personally, I really enjoyed Kate Moore's authorial voice, but the editing of this book left a lot to be desired. The storytelling, while engaging, is very repetitive. We learn many snippets about a lot of women. The book is divided into thirds, and it is in the final third that I believe Ms. Moore really finds her mojo as she focuses on one woman and her family and the onerous trial undertaken in an attempt to obtain justice if not financial remuneration.
I have patience for a lot of detail, especially in non-fiction. It slows the pace, but it is also paints a thorough picture. There were a lot of ways this topic could have been approached, and if it were my book, I'd have taken a different approach, but the story itself is so scary and fascinating that I still found myself drawn in. ( )