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Review Of Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

Updated: May 3

More About Radium Girls

A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Charts Bestseller!

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books

Radium Girls is the incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

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.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

More About Kate Moore

As a little girl growing up in Peterborough, England, Kate Moore dreamed of becoming a bestselling writer. She still has to pinch herself that her dream came true. After studying English Literature at the University of Warwick, Kate embarked on a successful career in publishing as a nonfiction editor. Over the next decade, she rose to become an editorial director at Penguin Random House UK. During this time, she also dabbled in writing gift and humour books, and in 2008 had her first Sunday Times bestseller in The Lovers’ Book (later republished as Roses Are Red).


On 4 July 2014 – her very own Independence Day – Kate took a leap of faith and left her full-time role to become a freelance editor, author and ghostwriter. Over the next three years she wrote eleven books, both under her own name and as a ghostwriter for some extraordinary people. Many of them became Sunday Times bestsellers.


Published in April 2017, The Radium Girls, was a labour of love for Kate, who discovered the girls’ story while directing a play about them. Wanting to ensure her production of These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich was as authentic as possible, Kate conducted lots of research on the radium girls and was amazed to discover that no book existed that focused on the women themselves. Feeling passionately that they deserved such a book, Kate decided to write it. Her research took her four thousand miles across an ocean to follow in the women’s footsteps. She stood at the sites of the dial-painting studios, visited the women’s homes and graves and met their families, and remembered the radium girls. She hoped, through her book, that readers would do the same.


Since publication, Kate has personally presented the story of the radium girls in close to thirty states. She has also been lucky enough to continue that writing career she dreamed of as a little girl; her latest book, The Woman They Could Not Silence, was published in June 2021 and became another commercial and critical success, placing second in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021 for Best History and being named a 2021 Booklist Editor’s Choice.


Her passion as a writer is to help people to have a voice, especially those silenced through injustice. With every book, she hopes to take readers on a visceral journey so that they too can experience the extraordinary lives of others.

My Thoughts on Radium Girls

I received this book as a gift and originally thought it would be a book about Madame Curie. I was wrong. This book is about the women (girls, really) who painted the illuminated dials of watches and clocks that spans decades.

While reading this book, I said on multiple occasions, "This cannot be real." The fact that not only did this horrifying event happen but it happened with the knowing disregard by the company owners will sadden you. By researching into individual female employees and populating this book with specific details and personalities, Moore transformed this from a sad but dry tale of industrial corruption

to a living, breathing story about real people you will find yourself caring for, rooting for and ultimately, mourning.

Moore has a gift for making history come alive. This was a long book (504 pages) but it took place over such a long time period, across multiple states and companies and involved so many people (employees and management) that I feel it was warranted. After this book, you will wonder, "Why doesn't everyone know about this?"

A Little Extra

Radium Girls is now a movie. I haven't watched it yet but wanted to give you a heads up!

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