The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
The danger of the element radium was invisible at first, unlike the element itself. The young women who worked at the Radium Luminous Materials Corp in Newark, NJ and the Radium Dial Co. in Ottawa, Il were hard working and full of life. Their turnover of the dials was enormous, owing in part to a taught practice that would eventually end their lives. They had been told that lip pointing was constructive in correcting brush mistakes. The first untimely deaths in Newark of some of the girls were misdiagnosed as syphilis and other maladies. As the numbers started to grow, attention was drawn to the girls’ employment. But the power of the business-government relationship covered up the deaths and shifted the blame to the women’s work habits. Over time, as the mortality rate blossomed, the radium women began to take legal action. Would the companies be held accountable?
The Radium Girls is a tragedy chronicling many years of hard work, sacrifice, and suffering. The sadness inherent in all the lives cut short leaves a poignant mark on the reader. The anger toward corporate greed and bureaucratic ineptitude is palpable in the author’s sharp commentary. Kate Moore has dug deep to expose a wrong that still resonates–as it should–in this country. Exceptional!