The Radium Girls

By Kate Moore,

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

Book description

Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf book club choice
New York Times bestseller

'Fascinating.' Sunday Times
'Thrilling.' Mail on Sunday

All they wanted was the chance to shine.

Be careful what you wish for...

'The first thing we asked was, "Does this stuff hurt you?" And they said, "No." The company…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Radium Girls as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Kate Moore sucked me into the world of the radium girls, who literally glowed from the radium dust that covered them at work, and that they ultimately ingested, sickening them in horrific ways.

The book made me want to scream in anger at their treatment and cheer for those who were determined to defend them and deliver justice. The story is a huge eye-opener about the importance of industry oversight and occupational health regulations. 

Brace yourself for a heart-wrenching and sometimes horrifying journey with the factory girls of the early 1900s who were poisoned by the radium they used at work—marketed as safe by industry leaders who knew better.

Though not scientists themselves, these young women were forced to become experts in their own health, as their bodies were ravaged by radium. Grace Fryer stood out to me—she died in 1933 with no legal acknowledgment that her disease was linked to her occupation—as did Catherine Donohue, whose death five years later came after an uphill battle for justice.

This is a heartbreaking and necessary…

In the 1910s and 20s in the USA, young women were employed to illuminate the numbers on dials with radium paint. In the years that followed the women began to suffer mysterious agonising illnesses as their jaws rotted and their spines collapsed. So far so tragic – but what I found totally devastating and gripping were the monumental battles that followed as the companies and their paid doctors and scientists fought to deny what was happening to protect their profits. And I was absolutely inspired by the courage of the women who kept fighting for the truth even as one…

This book first introduced me to the Radium Girls and their tragic story. I was captivated by what happened to these working-class women in the 1920s & 30s, especially Catherine Wolfe Donohue. I felt such a connection to Catherine through Moore’s book that I decided to write a novel about her. It’s nonfiction that engages the reader like a novel and will make you wonder how events like this are allowed to happen. 

From Samantha's list on Radium Girls.

This is a heartbreaking narrative about hundreds of women factory workers in the 1920s. Their job was to apply glow in the dark paint (made with radium) to watch faces. And to increase efficiency and to reduce wastage they were instructed to lick the tip of their paintbrushes as a finer point meant neater work. But in doing so they also ingested massive amounts of the poisonous element. As they begun to suffer gruesome side effects the paint companies sought to discredit the women to protect their interests and their profits. This is a fascinating story about a battle for…

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