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

by Kate Moore

18 Reviews

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

Overview

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

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller!

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books

The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

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Product Details
ISBN-13:
9781492649359
9781492649359
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
04/18/2017
Pages:
496
496
Sales rank:
6,614
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.80(d)
Lexile:
980L
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About the Author

About the Author

Kate Moore is a New York Times best selling writer with more than a decade's experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2015 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called 'These Shining Lives.' She lives in the UK. Visit her at http://www.kate-moore.com/.
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Key Characters xi

Prologue xv

Part 1 Knowledge 1

Part 2 Power 141

Part 3 Justice 279

Epilogue 377

Postscript 397

Author's Note 400

Acknowledgments 405

Reading Group Guide 409

Picture Acknowledgments 411

Abbreviations 413

Notes 415

Select Bibliography 461

Index 468

About the Author 480

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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

03/20/2017
British ghostwriter Moore traces the lives of more than a dozen American women who were employed as luminous watch-dial painters as early as 1917. She tells how these women, some barely in their 20s, were enchanted by high pay and the allure of the paint’s luminescent substance: radium. Carefully researched, the work will stun readers with its descriptions of the glittering artisans who, oblivious to health dangers, twirled camel-hair brushes to fine points using their mouths, a technique called lip-pointing. By the end of 1918, one out of six American soldiers owned a luminous watch, but the women had begun losing their teeth and entire pieces of their jaws. Moore describes the gruesome effects of radiation exposure on these women’s bodies, and she spares nothing in relaying the intense emotional suffering of their friends and families during subsequent medical investigations and court battles. In giving voice to so many victims, Moore overburdens the story line, which culminates with a 1938 headline trial during which a former employee of the Radium Dial Company collapsed on the stand and had to testify from bed. Moore details what was a “ground-breaking, law-changing, and life-saving accomplishment” for worker’s rights; it lends an emotionally charged ending to a long, sad book. (May)

Publishers Weekly
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Customer Reviews (18)
The Radium Girls is one of the most emotionally devastating, emoti ...
The Radium Girls is one of the most emotionally devastating, emotionally uplifting, roller coaster reads I have read in a very long time. I requested this book months ago and it took me forever to finish because there is just so much to take in mentally and emotionally while reading this book that I often had to set it down because I was both amazed and in tears because of what these women went through. Radium for those who don't know is a radioactive chemical that is very deadly to humans but many years ago was thought to have many uses both in home goods, health goods and beauty supplies and thought to be good for you. It was put into baby food, make up and in house hold objects until very quickly it was discovered that everyone who was exposed to it either died or became very ill from it. Radium Girls were the women who handled radium at the factory they worked and painted it on clock faces. I couldn't believe how many times they were assured that everything was fine in a time when they were discovering just how deadly it was and being allowed to handle it despite the fact that they actually glowed from it. The sad poor conditions and dismissal of such severe sickness and after effects they endured just because they were women, the company that denied any wrong doing, and the fight they had to take up to garner any attention broke my heart. Its sad to think so much of this history gets forgotten by so many and how the turn of events that led to us (women) having better treatment in the work place took so much sacrifice on their behalf. I would love to see inspiration for this book be turned into a film, I honestly think it would be an amazing movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it.
- krissysbookshelf
May 29, 2017
I received a free copy of The Radium Girls, a recreation of the li ...
I received a free copy of The Radium Girls, a recreation of the lives of the many young women brought down by radiation poisoning in the early 1900’s from Netgalley, Kate Moore and Sourcebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, for sharing your hard work with me. Kate Moore brings us an intimate look through the eyes of these girls, recreating their lives from diaries, letters and court testimonies, tombstones, family stories and dusty archives. She brings to life these feisty girls who spent their days painting minuscule radium numbers on watch faces, gun sights, and airplane dashboards. This work, done quickly and well, provided a fine income for an artistic young woman. Many applied for these jobs and encouraged their sisters and friends to apply, as well – both for the experience of working with this miraculous material discovered by the Curie’s, and to do their part for the war effort. The price they paid for this experience was horrendous. This is a story that needs to be shared so their sacrifices are not in vain, and as a cautionary tale as our world spins rapidly into tomorrow.
- brf1948
May 1, 2017
historical-research, historical-places-events, pathology, greed ...
historical-research, historical-places-events, pathology, greed This book was a heartbreaking read. The clarity of descriptions of the destruction of their bodies and their lives gives testimony to the greed of the employers as well as the short sightedness of the purveyors who touted the health benefits of such products as radium water. And the girls themselves were unable to believe that having their clothes and bodies glow in the dark was anything but a bit of fun. I do wonder if anyone outside of the paramedical professions can see modern parallels. The writing is absorbing and one keeps hoping that something will ease their suffering. But we know better. When they finally find legal support, they still have to fight hard and suffer more humiliation. Their story needs to be remembered in its entirety, not only to grant them the dignity they were denied in life, but to serve as a warning to the future. I was provided with a free ARC at my request courtesy of NetGalley.
- Tangen
April 20, 2017
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    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
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    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
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