Friday, October 20, 2017

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Author: Kate Moore
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date of publication: May 2017

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...

I'll start right off and say that this book is really hard to read.  Not intellectually, but emotionally.  If you haven't heard of the radium girls, I urge you to read up on them or read this book.  They are an important part of history.  What those women went through changed so much about how safe we are in the workplace today.  They are truly heroes who fought for what was right.  Because of what they went through, we have OSHA, better labor laws and safer industrial working conditions.  Society owes them a real debt

I wasn't sure I was going to like this book.  I was expecting a dry account much like you would get on Wikipedia.  Instead, the author brought these women to life.  It became more than just a moment in history for me.  I felt like I got to know these women.  It became their story.  Using interviews, letters and diary entries, Ms Moore was able to tell the story in their own words.  I highly recommend this book.  It's one that shouldn't be missed.

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