The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

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Rate: 5/5


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers): I must be getting soft with my reviewing because The Radium Girls marks my fourth five star review in a row, or perhaps I’ve just been very lucky with the books that I’ve recently picked up. Having read many wonderful reviews, it was an choice to pick up Moore’s tragic, real life story behind the young girls who painted radium on dials in the 1920s. Alas, I found myself wishing this subject matter had been as easy as the choice was to read. I’ve likely read thousands of books in my life and within the aforementioned books I’ve encountered countless deaths. It is fairly safe to assume most people ponder their own death, alongside the more macabre possibilites for the worst case scenario. Upon reading The Radium Girls, I have added a new type of death to the list of unimaginable horrors, radiation poisoning. Moore flawlessly captures the exuberant nature of youth surrounding these young vibrant workers, with the hope of their whole future still ahead of them. Previously receiving radiation training during my graduate research, I was physically cringing as the story transitioned into the girls beginning work in the radium factories. It is so hard to imagine a world in which the dangers of radiation are not known and radium was in fact thought to be a health boost. Moore weaved a story in which this relatively new substance could be perceived as magical, due to the glowing aftereffects and especially with so many influential individuals touting its benefits. Fairly quickly, these young women started presenting mysterious, terrible symptoms, eventually resulting in suffering a death beyond comprehension. Furthermore, infuriating is a vast understatement regarding the actions of the radium companies. I still cannot fathom how those men in charge could live with themselves, knowing that they had and were actively, in some cases, poisoning their workers. I can think of only a handful of books that have caused me to rant and rage for days after reading, and this topic might have superseded all others. Overall, The Radium Girls was one of the most difficult reads that I’ve ever encountered, however in literature that characteristic is far from synonymous with bad, often being quite the opposite. I’m so thankful Moore chose to tell the story of the The Radium Girls and the indescribable suffering they endured, alongside the relentless drive these women exhibited throughout their tragically shortened lives to reveal dangers of radium.


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33 comments

  1. Excellent review! I’m about 100 pages into this book right now, and it is so disturbing. Those poor girls. I cannot even begin to imagine what their pain and suffering was like. It is horrifying to read about how the radium companies knew and just did nothing, or lied about their product. And it makes me wonder about where all of those radium dials the girls painted are today…
    And the human body is truly fascinating! I keep talking about this book with my husband – I was just telling him today about how the body would store the radium like calcium. I am still totally in shock that people would honestly think that it had healing properties and would be alright to ingest.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Finished the book and it was so horrifying but fascinating. These women really helped with getting regulations in place. But as it said at the end of the book, the regulations don’t matter if the company doesn’t follow them. I was blown away that the one company was still involved with the radium and the painting up to the 1970s! Crazy! Wonder how soon there will be a movie made of this book. It was so fascinating, but disturbing, and it would make a great book club read!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. great review! and no you’re not getting soft this book genuinely is a good book. it broke my heart when i read what happened to these young women and how hard they had to fight to get some form of recognition that it isn’t all in their minds.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re not soft. It was a great book about a subject I previously knew nothing. So disturbing I also was compelled to blog about it. The things that are done in the name of profit are genuinely horrifying, and I know such actions continue in the world today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So appreciate this wholehearted, full-on review about a very difficult subject. It was a crazy time, with cigarettes being touted as healthy and advertised with actors dressed as doctors puffing away….asbestos known to be a terrible issue and that ignored….I don’t know that I could bear to read the book — but am so glad that you did~!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a seriously heavy book, and I also cringed reading about the girls handling radium so nonchalantly. It’s terrifying to think how people used to think – and insist! – radium was healthy, even though there was strong evidence to the contrary. These poor girls, I can’t imagine what they must have gone through…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review, as always!

    I’ve had this one on hand for awhile, but am waiting for the kids to go back to school before starting it. I had the feeling it was going to be a heavy book, and wanted to give it my full attention. Sounds like it is a book worth waiting for!

    Liked by 1 person

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