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

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

The incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice...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...

Title:The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:149264935X
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:480 pages

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

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    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 issue, and while I can't read a slew of emotional books in a

    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 issue, and while I can't read a slew of emotional books in a row, I have begun to place them strategically in my line up. I think the hardest part about this one is it's real; these women existed in our world and suffered the things discussed in this book which tears my heart into little pieces. I've watched firsthand how cancer can ravage the body of someone you love, but that was just a small piece of the hell these brave warriors had to endure. Ugh, grab a hanky and let's get going.

    This was not a book I could race through; I read another review stating how she had to pick up the book and place it down in what felt like 2 minute increments-this is exactly how it felt slowly trudging through this story. My initial interest in the history behind "the radium girls" spawned after reading another book that had a small chapter of information in it titled

    by

    (highly recommend this book even to those crime fiction fans who do not typically read non-fiction as this read like fiction!). After the brief intro into their story, I knew I had to find out more. I was blown away at their courage and strength which is portrayed in this book as well. The hardest part about reading this one was the depth it went into to ensure we understand just how much these women suffered and how honorable their fight was to fight those who placed them in this position and find justice.

    One of the most important takeaways I found though was how proud and honored this story made me feel to be a woman. These females were a class act; they were determined during a time when women were considered second class citizens. We could certainly use some role models such as these in today's world; the example of the strength in numbers and how to hold each other up when you are falling apart, physically and emotionally, was not lost on me. I found myself going to great lengths wondering what happened to our society between now and then; have the subtle advancements for women caused us to compete with each other in seclusion rather than band together while building one another up? I feel like I could ramble on for days regarding this book, but if you can stomach the horror and emotion regarding this much overlooked part of our history, I think it will ensure deep reflection and cause us to question some of how we approach living our lives and what we hold important. I know I'll hold this story deep in my soul for the rest of my life, it was that powerful.

  • 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

    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 miscarriage to the attention of readers.

    Why I gave it only three stars. I think probably if you read it will depend on what you are looking for, and once again I found a blurb misleading. I though I would get to know these girls with a bit more depth, but so many girls are mentioned that was virtually Impossible though some are mentioned more often then others. The skipping around between the plants, the two locations was a bit disruptive and confusing at times. Their suffering, the horror of what they eventually go through, so many died, so young, this does come through, loud and clear, rightfully so. Still all that I mentioned, did make for repetitious reading.

    I expected a more straightforward narrative, an intimate narrative account,and that is not this book, though I am very glad I read it. Big companies, doing bad things, hiding things for profit, are still and always will I believe happen. Avarice and greed are two of the seven deadly sins for a reason. Makes me wonder what we are doing today, eating or taking that we think is wonderful, that will turn out to be detrimental.

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    4.5 Stars rounded up

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    4.5 Stars rounded up

    Seventeen young women, some very young, with a lifetime of promise ahead of them. In a time when jobs were scarce and glamorous jobs were few and far between, landing a job with Radium Luminous Materials Corporation in Newark, New Jersey was considered a coup. A factory job, in essence, but they referred to it as a studio, these girls were paid to paint

    On 1 February 1917, Katherine Schaub was making her way to “the studio” for her first day on the job. Katherine was just fourteen years old.

    Radium. Its virtues were extolled everywhere one looked. Magazines, newspapers called it the greatest find of history. New radium products popped up with claims of everything from improved health to being the answer to eternal life. Katherine only saw it as beautiful, a luminous glow.

    At first, Katherine was trained by Mae Cubberly. Another young woman, Mae was twenty years old. Using very fine paintbrushes, she instructed Katherine in the technique that all of the dial painters were taught. Lip-pointing: putting the brushes in their mouths to make the tip finer, a technique learned from girls who formerly worked in china-painting factories. Mae even lets her know that she had been worried about ingesting the radium and asked if the radium would hurt them, but had been told it wasn’t dangerous, if anything it would be beneficial. Lip…Dip…Paint.

    When working in the “darkroom,” Katherine would call in workers, and could see the signs of the luminous paint on the worker, on the clothes, on the lips, on face and hands, shining.

    And then America joined the war in Europe.

    Demand increased. The company opened a plant in Orange, New Jersey, not too far from the Newark factory. The company expanded right into the middle of a residential neighborhood, and some of the new workers hired lived there. Grace Fryer, eighteen – her two brothers would be heading to France to fight alongside millions. Irene Corby, seventeen. Of course, the new girls were learning to “Lip…Dip…Paint.”

    And years pass, it’s the early 1920s, some girls had left the radium company, but it was never long before their spot was filled with some young, new girl thrilled to land this glamorous job. Some of the girls began to complain of being tired, mysterious and unrelenting pains. Some left to find other jobs, some just left, incapable of the demands any longer. Keep in mind that the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was only ratified in 1920. In a world dominated by men, these mysterious illnesses were cast off as frivolous, “women’s complaints.”

    This is the story of their fight to be heard, of their fight to find the real cause of these myriad plagues that beset them. Who would be the ones to champion their cause, and who would be those rich and powerful men who would not only deceive them, deny their own wrong-doing, lying through their teeth, making empty promises of recompense which would later be denied or reneged on.

    Heartbreaking as it is, these stories are not about delicate little flowers who fall trembling at the feet of the rich and powerful. These are women, who, though physically weakened, found the strength and determination to do what needed to be done - not only themselves or their families, but to protect those still working with radium, and everyone in the future.

    This is a well-researched story, and it shows. The sense of injustice is palpable, the story flows evenly, but varies from the fact-delivering, non-fictional voice as the author enters more emotional territory and paints the picture of scenes one could only imagine without her words. A compelling account of another era, the evolution of the rights of the average worker, but especially those working women whose voices they tried, in vain, to suppress and invalidate.

    Pub Date: 1 May 2017

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Sourcebooks

  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    They were called

    There were newspaper headlines such as

    about them.

    And all that – almost

    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

    They were called

    There were newspaper headlines such as

    about them.

    And all that – almost

    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

    it would be when reading

    It's because you can sell anything. You can make people believe the worst poison is a cure. You can sell other people's lives. And in the process, sell your own soul. And that's what the burning hell is there for.

    So if you still haven't heard what

    is about, let it be my pleasure to enlighten you.

    Back in the early 20th century,

    . Rather, they did, but they didn't have a habit of sharing information, like we do now. Which is why it was thought that radium, a highly radioactive substance, was in fact good for you. Because it sold well.

    So nobody even batted an eyelash when radium dial clock factories sprang up and started hiring young women to paint in their studios. Not wearing any protective suits. Putting the radium-covered brush straight

    Ingesting the radium. Like they were instructed. Because

    It will put rosy cheeks on you.

    Photo courtesy of

    of their shining clothes and shining hair – as they returned from work. All covered in radioactive, glaring radium.

    that will bring you happiness, a fortune, that will make your position coveted and make every other girl jealous of your angelic glow. And yet, coming with a price akin to the fairytale one, where you have to give away your firstborn. Which was also what some of these girls pretty much did.

    Unfortunately for them, back in the 1920's, the US government wasn't too keen about interfering with companies. So when they started dying horrible, torturous deaths one by one, dropping like flies, nobody intervened. They were called names. Liars. They were said to have died of sexually transmitted diseases. All the while suffering the worst kind of physical pain, because... the radium was literally in their bones. So much so, that decades,

    So

    for at least a little bit of honor in the end of their lives, and for the ones after them. For all of you. Because

    you can now boast some safety in your jobs.

    is why you are not forced to quit when you get sick. It's also why your bosses are not allowed to blatantly lie to you if they make you work with dangerous substances. And especially

    (if you, reader, are one), you have a lot to thank these girls for.

    I could say so much about this story. In fact,

    But that would kind of defeat the purpose of you reading it, wouldn't it? Which is what I must urge you to do, because

    You must know

    it took for our lives to be paved the way they are, to build up to this point.

    The women we meet in this book are all so exceptional, bright, warm, cheerful. The way some of them fight this incredibly crippling condition they're faced with was so inspiring. And heartbreaking, at the same time. This book doesn't read like like non-fiction, for starters!

    you will even cry. Some of you – more than once. You will curse the people who did this to them, even though they knew what they were doing. You will be angry, maybe even furious. I don't see how anyone could remain a stone statue in the presence of something like this.

    For the wonderful people who helped them. For the husbands and lovers of those young women who never threw them away, even when they were helpless shadows of their former selves, unable to move, to speak, to eat. You will bless the few lawyers and judges who weren't in it for the money, who fought for justice and for their own belief in the world. And most of all, your heart will swell with love for those young women who had no other option but to die, to die a graceful death, to die a proud death – because that's all that was left to them.

    Such is the tendency today as well. Maybe not in the Western world anymore. But in some places of the world it still is. In the beginning of this post, I said anything can be sold. This book will make you wonder

    I am also very happy to announce to you all that the author

    I will be publishing it in the coming two weeks, most likely, and you are very welcome to hear the story of how this book came to be. I have a lot of respect for Kate because of how warmly she treated the memory of the girls when she was writing this book.

  • Pouting Always

    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

    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. The common practice was to use one's mouth to smooth out the ends of the paint brush leading to many women ingesting lethal amounts of radium. Eventually when the effects started to show the women had trouble finding out what caused their sickness and then trying to get the companies to acknowledge and help them pay the medical bills pilling up. The author succeeded in humanizing and bringing to life the radium girls and I honestly was boiling over with rage through out when the companies wouldn't help the girls out even though they were doing fine financially. I can't believe they went to all those lengths instead of just doing the right thing to begin with, especially because it seems like it honestly would have been cheaper to just help the girls with their medical bills.

  • Erin

    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

    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's disease" aka syphilis. A definite must read on the 2017 TBR list.

  • Brenda

    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

    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 their legal battles and then for some realizing they are going to die.

    Moore doesn’t shy away from the vivid details of the agonizing deaths and suffering the women went through and it’s not for the faint hearted. I think that might be me as I found the torment they went through relentless and their agonizing suffering and the deaths after deaths started to become too overwhelming for me. Some of what I was reading just became a blur to me and at times I just wanted to get through the book.

    As much as the girls suffering broke my heart, the greed, dishonesty and the refusal to protect the young women from the danger was shocking and angered me.

    I think Radium Girls was one of the most unsettling books I have read and even though I did not enjoy it, I am glad I read it. The courage and tenacity of the women is an important story that needed to be told and Kate Moore is remarkable to have told it and honoring the women and their deaths by doing so.

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Sourcebooks for a copy to read and review.

    All of Norma’s & my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:

  • Carol

Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.