Book Review: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Before I get into the review of the actual book I would be remiss if I did not state how fascinating these women’s stories were. I can’t believe I had never heard of their suffering before picking this book up for book club. How did I not learn about this in history class?! More on this after we discuss book details.



3 disco balls

Published: March 6, 2018 by Sourcebooks
Category: Non-fiction, History, Science

I do appreciate Kate Moore for bringing this story to my attention. I do wish the book was written and edited better. I am not afraid of big books (this one clocked in 406), but this one did not need to be that long. It was often repetitive and didn’t have a consistent flow. But, I learned so much. I was often angry and repulsed by what I learned and wondered how some of the executives, doctors and lawyers, etc. slept at night? My goodness. All the angry feels.

Goodreads Synopsis: 4.2 average rating
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.

neudgOkay going back to not knowing about these women: how was that possible when their legal battles “ultimately led to the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which now works nationally in the United States to ensure safe working conditions.” (pg. 392) I was still fired up when I finished that I needed to know more.

I immediately found the documentary, Radium City, that inspired Kate Moore to write this book. I rented it on Vimeo for $0.99 and got to “meet” some of the women highlighted in the book, as well as the small town – just outside of Chicago – of Ottawa, IL (one of the factory sites).

Also during my research I found a Radium Girls film on It seems that it was showcased at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. I need to watch it when it becomes available to the public.

Have you heard of The Radium Girls and/or read the book? Do tell!


Purchase Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

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34 thoughts on “Book Review: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

  1. Great review! I’d heard so much about this one and like you knew little about this story or that it had even happened. But I’ve read a few other reviews with complaints similar to yours so I’m not sure whether I want to devote the time to it. I know that sounds bad because it’s an important topic 😐 thanks for the documentary tip, I’m definitely going to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The ignorance of radioactive material in those times was astounding. The fact that they marketed this stuff as makeup is worse then the cigarette campaigns of the time. These poor women suffered so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew nothing about this. It’s a pity the book was poorly edited and too lengthy. I am going to look up information about this now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this cover and have been eyeing this book for what seems like months. It’s always intimidated me though because I’m not really a big nonfiction reader and it seemed really dense. Since you said it’s really repetitive, I’m leaning more away from it now. Maybe I’ll skip the book and go straight for the documentary!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was wondering as to why it seemed this one took you a little longer than usual to finish. I kept seeing the stories on IG. I don’t think that this would be a book I would pick up but its not based on your review it just doesn’t intrigue me whatsoever.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm…I recently purchased this book, but now I’m a little reluctant to dive in right away. Long books don’t intimidate me, but I’m kind of bummed to hear it’s redundant. That makes long books FEEL long 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review Nikki, I’ve been seen this book quite a lot around lately, I have not read The Radium Girls yet but I don’t know if I ever will read it because I don’t read non-fiction books as of right now. Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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