‘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.’
So starts the story of 'The Radium Girls' - a group of women who fought the system and the corporations for recognition and compensation after suffering horrendous after-effects and early death as a result of their work was 'dial-painters'
Reveling in their independence and financial earning power, the young women took jobs painting watch faces with radium - licking their fine-haired brushed to make the glowing paint adhere delicately. Ingesting the radium with every lick, the radium dust also covered them from head to toe. They were told it was safe long after it was clear it was not. They were misled, lied to and ruined financially, physically and emotionally.
This is their story, the horrendous cancers that ate their bones, their painful deaths and tortured families. But it is also a story of strength, perseverance, friendship and courage. These women fought for themselves but equally for each other - fighting for the truth, for their families and for science to officially recognise the dangers of radium.
This is a great, courageous and fitting book honouringthe memory and courage of these women - and quick enough to read in a long weekend. Highly recommended.
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