What We’re Reading: The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore book cover

Available at Main Campus on the New Book Shelf

Title: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
Author: Kate Moore
Genre: Historical Nonfiction

Why did you choose to read this book? Well, I’d heard a lot about it. I tend to like historical nonfiction that tells the stories of groups of people who maybe aren’t as known in American history. I read Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann earlier this year (also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) and realized not for the first time how many pieces of American history I just am not aware of. This was filling in a gap in my knowledge with a really engaging book. (Clarification: Horrible events. Engaging book.)

What did you like about it? Despite being a sad book because the events that happened to these women in order to get justice and make change in the way radiation was treated in America and the American work environment, I did like it because, unlike some other historical nonfiction, it seems as though the industry actually learned from their mistakes and made real changes that positively impacted the workers so they’d stop dying en-masse after-the-fact from radiation poisoning. Well, they learned eventually…once men started coming down with cancers due to radiation poisoning, too. …

Another thing I really liked about it was the author’s profound respect for the women who suffered and fought to get the radium industry to recognize that their product was dangerous. They weren’t just characters in an interesting story to her; they were real people who suffered and fought for what was right and just despite numerous hurdles.

Who would you recommend the book to? I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in underreported American historical events. Or anyone who wonders why we have to do the chemical safety training at the beginning of each year/class that involves chemicals.

What would you pair this book with? A radiation suit and a steaming mug of justice.

About Meredith Lewis

Meredith is a reference librarian at Durham Tech on both the Main and Orange County Campuses. She likes fantasy, science-fiction, and historical fiction and is trying to be a better reader of non-fiction (just after she finishes that stack of novels on her bedside table...)