The Radium Girls:
The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
by Kate Moore
Narrated by Angela Brazil
Sourcebooks – 404 pages
HighBridge – 15H52
This is a horrifying story.
Let me tell you why.
This is about what happened to many young women –some were even teens– when they were hired to work at the Radium Dial Company. With their bosses knowing about the dangers of the substance but assuring them that radium was fine, that it would even give them rosy complexion!
They kept lying to their employees for decades, including in many trials.
The author did a fantastic background research to tell the story, for the first time, from the perspective of these women.
But I found the tone actually a bit dry.
Some descriptions were really terrible, so be ready: lots of pus and jaw bones falling into the mouths of the victims, among many other examples.
One incorrect thing: the author describes scapulars as Christian talismans.
Obviously the author has no knowledge in Christian culture, which has nothing to do with the world of talismans. A scapular is a devotional item, it has no connection with objects supposed to have magical powers.
I used an audio credit to listen to the book. This is the only reason I really kept going. The narrator Angela Brazil has a very harsh tone that kept getting on my nerves.
If you are interested in this story, read the book instead of listening to it.
One final thought:
the last chapters are really the only hopeful pages, where you see how the sad fate of these women and their courage helped draw safety measures for subsequent and current industry workers. Without their unintended sacrifice, who knows how long it would have taken to really realize the (very) long damage caused by radium to all living creatures. An to set up protection laws for all workers.
And a disturbing thought:
Sixteen areas in Ottawa, Illinois (where one factory was located) are obviously still radioactive today. It’s quite disturbing to see that people are allowed to build there today –homes, public areas, and schools! How come this is still going on?
VERDICT: A horrifying tale. Great research but dry style. And dry narration for the audiobook performance.