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The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls (2016)

by Kate Moore

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This book is a masterpiece. Kate Moore has taken the story of the "Radium Girls" back from the annals of case law and medicine and given it back to the girls themselves. Thanks to extensive research and firsthand accounts from the "girls" and their survivors, Moore's book is tenderly constructed to humanize the women who were victimized by their employer and went without justice for so many years. The Radium Girls is consistently listed among the best books of 2017 and is a must-read for all. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
A very interesting book on an almost unknown subject. The whole story was mostly very depressing, but showed the resilience of these extraordinary women. ( )
  yukon92 | Oct 14, 2018 |
Approximately one hundred years ago, in Newark and Orange, New Jersey, and in Ottawa, Illinois, females in their teens and twenties were delighted when an opportunity arose to make a better-than-average income as dial painters. Each employee was required to brush a luminous substance containing radium on watch and clock dials. To make the process more efficient and precise, their instructors taught the dial painters to place the brushes in their mouths to form a neat point. What the young ladies did not know was that the material they were handling was toxic. After this radioactive element enters one's body, it is a "silent stalker" that triggers changes in the blood and bones, causing severe and irreversible damage. Kate Moore's "The Radium Girls" is a heartbreaking and superbly written book about these unfortunate women and their fight for justice.

To obtain the facts needed to bring "The Radium Girls" to life, Kate Moore drew from primary and secondary sources such as newspaper articles, diaries, official records, and interviews with those who knew the dial painters. Moore points out that the dial painters' bosses reassured their employees that not only was the radium paste safe, but it also improved one's health and appearance! Most of the book is a description of the drawn-out legal jockeying between the companies' high-powered lawyers and the dial painters' attorneys. When they developed alarming symptoms that steadily worsened, the victims needed money to pay their exorbitant medical bills. Even though the companies occasionally offered small settlements, in general, the executives came up with clever tricks to avoid paying anything at all. In spite of their travails, Moore informs us, many of the radium girls displayed admirable "strength, dignity, and courage."

Heightening the story's poignancy, Moore provides personal details of the misery endured by the dial painters' loved ones. Their parents, siblings, spouses, and friends came to realize that--barring a miracleČ√ɬõ√ɬďany human being exposed to so much radium would die in agony. In this skillfully written and riveting account of the evils of greed, immorality, and sexism, Kate Moore offers at least one ray of hope. The court battles and widespread publicity generated by the plight of the radium girls set the stage for occupational safety reforms that, although too late for the dial painters, would save many others from a similar fate. ( )
  booklover915 | Oct 9, 2018 |
A sad but fascinating tale of real women who worked in a dangerous occupation while being lied to by their bosses and companies in the early years of the 1900s. This was a well written book that read almost like a novel, with all the elements of one; including historical facts, suspense, emotional highs and lows. ( )
  MichelleConnell | Sep 26, 2018 |
Really quite intersting, about early 1900s, watch factory where girls paint dials to glow in the dark, & the fact this was a sought-after job. Made the workers actually glow, & they loved it. Then the cancers/tumors/growths started, they died/dying & of course denial by the corporte world. -- I had no idea this kind of thing could happen, let alone did happen. ( )
  JeanetteSkwor | Sep 12, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Moore, Kateprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brazil, AngelaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I shall never forget you... Hearts that know you love you And lips that have given you laughter Have gone to their lifetime of grief and roses Searching for dreams that they lost In the world, far away from your walls.   ---Ottawa High School yearbook, 1925
For all the dial-painters And those who loved them.
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The scientist had forgotten all about the radium.
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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.… (more)

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