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The Radium Girls Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

The year was 1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks, and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous - the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.

As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive - their work - was in fact slowly killing them: They had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering - in the face of death - these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly and instead became determined to fight for justice.

Drawing on previously unpublished sources - including diaries, letters, and court transcripts as well as original interviews with the women's relatives - The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring 20s who themselves learned how to roar.

©2017 Kate Moore (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  •  
    Historyguy 05-08-17
    Historyguy 05-08-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Couldn't get past the reading style"

    The book is great but I'm going to request a refund for the audio book. We couldn't even listen past a few minutes because the reader pauses in the middle of sentences where you wouldn't normally pause and fluctuates her volume in a way that is strange and hard to listen to. It doesn't flow at all and it extremely hard to listen to.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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    Ashlee 05-18-17
    Ashlee 05-18-17
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    "Terrible Narration - do NOT purchase audio format"
    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I love audio books and have listened to more than I can remember.

    However, this narrator was terrible. I couldn't get through the first chapter. It's robotic and annoying. Please purchase this book in paperback so you can enjoy the story rather than be distracted by a truly terrible narration job.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-11-17
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 05-11-17 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

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    "The Voice of the Ghost Women Speaking"

    One night when I was a few chapters into this book, I woke up because my child was shaking me, asking me urgently what was wrong. I'd been screaming, she said, and yelling 'no no, no.' I had dreamed that I had been painting luminous hours onto watch faces, dipping a camel hair brush into paint, using my lips to make it into a fine point -and that I was melting like the clocks in Salvador Dali's ubiquitous 1931 painting "The Persistence of Memory."

    Kate Moore's "The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women" (2016, U.K. edition; 2017, U.S. edition) is really well written - and utterly horrifying. Almost 100 years ago, radium was the latest and greatest craze, used in tonics and medicines, and to make self illuminating watches. The U.S. Radium Corp. had an artist studio in New Jersey. In Illinois, there was the Radiant Dial Corporation. Very young women - some were only 14! - used radioactive paint to painstakingly make hundreds of watch faces a day. They ingested so much paint that they sparkled at the end of the day, and their bones glowed after death. Actually, they'll glow for more than 10 centuries.

    Moore's book isn't unremitting horror. The Radium Girls - both in New Jersey and in Illinois- fought their employers, and, to varying degrees, won. Grace Fryer, Edna Hussman, Katherine Schaub, Quinta McDonald and Albina Larice sued U.S. Radium, settling right before trial. All were incredibly sick - teeth fell out, bones necrotized, and huge sarcomas distorted and destroyed arms and legs. Some women's mouths were so honeycombed that they simply lifted jawbones out of their mouths.

    Catherine Wolfe Donahue, a Radium Girl who lived and worked in Ottawa, Illinois, didn't just settle her case. She took Radiant Dial to the Illinois Industrial Commission and not only won, but helped change labor laws. Workplaces became safer. Donahue's case was appealed so many times she died before the US Supreme Court finally resolved her case.

    Moore's book didn't include some historical context that would explain how the women's conditions were so bad. Penicillin wasn't discovered until 1928, and antibiotics weren't available for several decades. Antibiotics wouldn't have prevented sarcomas, but they would have arrested the disfiguring abscesses and necrosis, and alleviated some excruciating pain. It's demoralizing to realize that there are undoubtedly people in third world countries - the world's recycling and dumping grounds - who are exposed repeatedly to small amounts of radiation now in manufactured goods, and don't have access to antibiotics and medical care.

    There's also a difference in the laws Moore didn't address clearly: personal injury and workers' compensation laws and statutes of limitations are state specific, which means the rights of and obligation of injured workers depend on where the injury happened. Sometimes there is federal jurisdiction, but often there is not. The question of what laws apply in what situations is clearer now almost a century later - and there are certainly more laws - but it's still a hotly debated subject in the courts and in administrative law proceedings. If Moore had clarified the subject matter/personal jurisdiction questions, she would have ended up with an incredibly boring discussion the story didn't deserve. What is clear is that the persistence and the sacrifice of the Radium Girls - many donated their bodies to study after death - started what became the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

    Moore clearly respected and loved the women whose stories she told, and it was a good book. The narration was fine, but occasionally a little uneven in pacing. To be fair to Angela Brazil, the narrator, that was probably an editing issue.

    The title of this review is a quote from the book, from proceedings of 'The Society of the Living Dead'. That was a group of Radium Girls formed to help change employment safety laws.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-18-17
    05-18-17
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    "Radium Girls"

    I really enjoyed the book. I thought the story was compelling and informative. I did not care for the narrator. It was read in a robot-like voice , it made me wish that I picked up a hardcopy of the book instead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Jane Houston 05-16-17
    Jane Houston 05-16-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Fascinating"
    Any additional comments?

    Such an interesting and heartbreaking account of the history of the dial painters. I grew up near Ottawa, Illinois and had never heard of the Radium Girls! After listening to this fascinating book, I asked friends and relatives if they had ever heard of the Radium Girls, and they all said yes. Some had friends whose mothers, grandmothers or aunts died of cancer years after working as dial painters.

    The book moves seamlessly between New Jersey and Illinois, and it is easy to get lost in the era - to imagine these young girls so full of life, the stylish clothes they purchased with income from their new jobs as dial painters, their pride in the contribution they were making to the war effort, and then the horror they felt as their health rapidly declined.

    Definitely worth a listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Sheena M. Williams 05-16-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Good Book"

    For too long what the 'Radium Girls' encountered was hidden from people and left to the sands of time, largely unknown. With this book, their plight is realized in detail, so that we never forget the industrial standards and radioactive knowledge that was gained from these courageous women.

    The book focuses on the women and their individual lives. Sometimes, the phrasing is meant to illicit strong feelings as the writer is clearly biased. I didn't find it as an issue, but those looking for a clinical document, should not look to this read.

    Forgotten and brushed aside in death, this read gives the dial painter's voices back. Highly recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Barret 05-15-17
    Barret 05-15-17
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    "Tragic, enraging story"
    If you could sum up The Radium Girls in three words, what would they be?

    corporate malfeasance, horrifying, important


    What other book might you compare The Radium Girls to and why?

    This book is reminiscent of other works that document scientific misconduct in America, such as The Plutonium Files, Imbeciles, and Medical Apartheid. It is especially notable for the way in which it emphasizes the humanity of the women whose lives it documents. Although the story of the radium girls was sketched in a brief outline in my first ever lab safety training, I always assumed that the path to remuneration and industry reform had been straightforward and smooth. This book instead illustrates not only the importance of incorporating societal values into scientific endeavors, but also the difficulties of doing so when money and corporations' welfares are at stake. It is powerful and timely and speaks to the continuing need for governmental checks on corporate greed.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Angela Brazil's narration was very strange. Her vocal intonations and rhythms often sounded more like a computer reading text than a human, and the emphasis was often misplaced within a sentence. This was jarring and detracted from the continuity of the story.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    From ghost girls to the living dead


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-13-17
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    "Compelling and relevant."

    The story draws you in as you learn about the lives of the women the book describes. The narrator is lack luster, and irritating at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Sara Mckey 05-13-17
    Sara Mckey 05-13-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Loved the story but..."

    I loved the story, the history in it, the shadiness of big business. Everything like that. The story was what compelled me to finish the book. The narrator on the other had was extremely difficult for me to handle. The reading was fine, speed and accent was fine. However you could hear every swallow, mouth movement and lip smack. It was so distracting and I could barely handle it. The editing of this was horrible. It seemed like every sentence you could hear it. So I could not listen to this with ear buds or else I would be so distracted and annoyed about it. Great story but should have just bought the book not the audio version

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    CQ 05-12-17
    CQ 05-12-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Don't buy this on audio"

    While the story of the Radium Girls is an important one, the book is sluggish and lacking anything interesting besides the facts of the history of the Radium Girls. I kept waiting for the story to take off, but it never did. The audio narrator was the worst I've ever heard. Even at 1.25 speed she was still painful to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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