Listen free for 30 days

  • The Radium Girls

  • They Paid with Their Lives. Their Final Fight Was for Justice.
  • By: Kate Moore
  • Narrated by: Kate Moore
  • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (318 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Ordinary women in 1920s America.

All they wanted was the chance to shine.

Be careful what you wish for.

"The first thing we asked was, 'Does this stuff hurt you?' And they said, 'No.' The company said that it wasn't dangerous, that we didn't need to be afraid."

In 1917, as a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks, and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous - the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.

As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive - their work - was in fact slowly killing them: They had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering - in the face of death - these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly and instead became determined to fight for justice.

Drawing on previously unpublished sources - including diaries, letters, and court transcripts as well as original interviews with the women's relatives - The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties who themselves learned how to roar.

©2016 Kate Moore (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

More from the same

What listeners say about The Radium Girls

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    220
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    203
  • 4 Stars
    45
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    9
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    224
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding and well researched book

This story moved me to tears on many occasions. Outstandingly read by the author with feeling. The plight of these girls should never be forgotten.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Brilliant reading but sync problems exist

Kate Moore reads the true story of the Radium Girls with commitment and passion. The voices of the girls comes through vividly. Kate felt that while there have been some excellent studies of the radium dial scandal the voices of the victims had somehow been lost. Thus her book puts an emphasis on those tragic young women and she did considerable research with their families as well as having access to the memoir of Katherine Schaub written as her too short life drew to a close. This is why Kate was able to so vividly describe Katherine’s first encounters with the Radium Dial Company. The crucial lesson of the terrible events is that the greed and lies of the radium dial companies dehumanised the girls, violated their rights, and caused horrible suffering not only to the women but to those who loved them. In so doing these company officials dehumanised themselves as well.

My one problem and the reason I don’t give this five stars lies in the problem that arises from the synchronisation of the Kindle text and The Audible narration. Frequently the last part of the text will stop syncing near the end of a chapters and a message will come up that states that no sync is available. The syncing will begin again at or near the start of the next chapter. It is quite irritating. This,effect occurs quite often. More seriously occasionally Kate will suddenly narrate from a different—usually longer—text than that which appears in the Kindle book. Chapter 36 has an example of this.

I would hope that Audible will fix this difficulty.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

harrowing

Yes I was in tears several times. The way the legal system was perverted and the sheer shameless lies beggars belief. This story is about a company who knew they were killing their staff in the most agonizing way and reneged on negotiated settlements whilst continuing hiring young women and making millions whilst making the most pitifully small amounts of compensation, character assassination, misinformation to mention but a few. They probably paid their lawyers more than any compensation. The legal system, lawyers and the medical profession all are culpable not forgetting big business and the government. Not the finest hour in American history. From my own point of view, I was a union member and steward and proud of all those who paved the way for better working conditions.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful Story Irritating Narration

This is a truly shocking story - I found myself gasping in disbelief at some of the genuinely jaw-dropping (pardon the expression) revelations - and it is its strength that kept me going to the end, in spite of the awful narration.

I can’t profess to be a fan of Kate Moore’s style of writing and. Certainly. Not. Of. Her. Strange. Staccato. Delivery. Terrible, theatrical, over-dramatised narration, which the story does not need; it is dramatic enough on its own (and how does a 30-something woman manage to sound like a 13-year old girl anyway?) I ashoom (sic) she was reading it how she was imagining it when she wrote it.

Some of her pronunciation would have been risible if it weren’t so irritating: ashooming, conshoomer, clappsed, clective, diptheria, becuzz, prehaps… (I could go on.) And while I understand that it was necessary to demonstrate that these were young, vibrant, attractive, fashionable women (I kept having to remind myself they were only in their early 20s) was it really necessary to be told of the physical attributes of (virtually) every person in the book? Was it relevant if a doctor had a bald head and glasses? I don’t think so. I found it really grating on me by about halfway through.

That being said, the account is totally engrossing. The shameless machinations of the companies in trying to protect their reputations and, more importantly, their profits, were staggering! I was entirely unaware of the struggles of these women and of their part both in changing industrial safety regulations and in the greater knowledge of radioactivity and its effects. A powerful story that needed to be told, but probably not by Kate Moore.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Utterly brilliant

One of the best researched and best told stories I've ever heard. Astounded by some of the facts and behaviours of the people in this story. Would highly recommend this book to anyone

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

well written and narrated it stayed with me

It's a story of life lessons. Unfairness, values, struggle and never giving up. in equal parts it is inspirational, heart breaking and sad, and unwaveringly human. Enjoyed wouldn't describe it, but glad I found it would. Those women were heroic and glorious. A very good read.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Intolerably irritating

I listened to 16 chapters, but could take no more of the jejune style, wrong choice of vocabulary (eg savings being desecrated instead of decimated) and over-expressive “storytelling” narration technique. I did think the work was very well researched, and presented with genuine passion and truly humane indignation - but I just didn’t enjoy it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable courage!

This is an incredibly moving book - Kate Moore has given the girls and women of the Radium Scandal a voice. The suffering was unbelievable, the behaviour of the employers shameful and Kate reads this with a passionate performance.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Awful narration

The decision of having the author narrate is its biggest failure. She has the most bizarre habit of punctuating. Each. Word. With. A. Full. Stop. After 59 chapters it drove me to the point of despising her voice! She seemed almost conscious to pronounce each word singularly and perfectly, as you might if just reading a list of words from the dictionary. Ironically, she mispronounced words in every chapter, and it was easy to spot due to her weird rhythm. The use of repetition is painful and cringe-worthy in parts. The author did not decide clearly whether she was writing a factual account of matters, or a romanticised fictional novel. The result is a book jumping from one genre and tense to the next; from describing what the characters ARE doing then bringing in snippets of memoirs and reflections, fast forwarded in time. She included fabricated present tense speech, thoughts and feelings alongside retrospective factual accounts. This need not have been half as long as it was. Her painfully uninspiring descriptions of people droned on and on for each individual. I felt she had a list of how to say 'she later said' in different ways, and picked them at random to try and get some variation in her writing. I'd simply wish I'd googled this interesting subject matter, rather than waste my time on this terrible piece of writing and narration.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I had no idea

I had no idea the struggle these girls endured. thank you for writing this well written book! truly inspiring

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for NMwritergal
  • NMwritergal
  • 07-10-16

While this is a story that needed to be told…

…it needed to be told in half the time. One problem is that the author follows too many characters who she tries to flesh out.

Therein lies the second problem. While I love narrative nonfiction, with this book I think she used too many fictional techniques in trying to bring the characters to life. I thought over and over that there was no way the author could know X. She’s in a person’s head describing thoughts and feelings she couldn’t know. She’s in a closed room, describing actions nobody saw. For example (this isn’t direct from the book, but it is representative of a scene in the book): Dr so-and-so stood in his empty office. He was grumbling as he dug through his messy desk drawer looking for an X-ray. Once again, he wished he were more organized and felt like a failure in the organization department. He ran his hand through his black hair, slicked back with hair pomade, scowled at the greas on the palm of his hand, wiped it off on his brown tie, and said, “Now where did I put that x-ray?” and continued to dig.

While I understand the author used original source material, examples like the above run rampant throughout the book. Are we to believe that material exists from the 1920s where we know what the doctor, alone in his office, was doing, thinking, feeling, wearing? I think not. She does this with about every single character--and like I said, there are a ton of people in the book.

Also, many repetitive gruesome descriptions of what happened to “the girls.” Had I been reading, I would have skimmed. Just a ton of repetition in general.

The author (English) narrates her own book and did a very nice job. It’s usually a disaster when novelists read their own fiction, but it seems nonfiction writers are much better at reading their memoir or nonfiction.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Solveig
  • Solveig
  • 22-10-20

The radium girls deserve a better book

This book could have been cut by two thirds. Overly sentimental and repetitive. There are podcasts that to the story much better justice than this book and in 1/10th of the time. I feel sorry for the narrator who had to go through it in its entirety. I give it two stars because it's a story people should know, but it really only deserves one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lene
  • Lene
  • 05-01-20

A wonderful, horrible history

This is a truly fascinating story of human courage. I had never heard of The Radium Girls before I read this book. During listening, I went and checked all of my antique clocks. I needed to make sure none of them had radium dials.

You need to hear this story.
You need to face the horrors of workers from a different era.

Loved it.