Four star review, originally posted here on July 16, 2019.
Well this story is just batshit crazy! This is one of those non-fiction books with content so outrageously despicable that every couple pages you wind up screaming to somebody near you “Oh my God, they put the radium on their faces FOR FUN!” (or maybe that’s just me) If you feeling like being absolutely outraged at evil corporations of times past, or at the lousy treatment women used to endure, then this is the book for you!
My only complaint, however, is that it is frankly, a bit boring at times. Part of this can’t be helped- facts are facts, so you can’t mess with timelines. This book is essentially about a couple court cases, and court cases can be tedious. But still, sometimes this telling got bogged down in details that we just didn’t really need. Instead of dedicating so much space to a handful of individual women, it would have been nice to expand more on the overall impact of radium and the radium girls. I’m not sure we ever got a real sense of how widespread the radium poisoning epidemic really was (how many girls were exposed? what percent got sick? etc), or if we did, it was not until the epilogue maybe. I personally would have liked a better picture of the greater context while reading the detailed anecdotes found here.