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Old 05-20-2018, 09:25 AM   #44
issybird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherCat View Post
I have had a chance to have a bit more of a look at Moore's Radium Girls. Essentially, from a academic point of view it is junk and I would be tempted to put it into the class of an emotionally driven historical novel closely tied to some narrow aspects of real events. The dialpainters come across to me as being her useful characters to fulfill her agenda.
Popular history serves a legitimate purpose and ought not to be dismissed as junk (no one's claiming this is academic history) and it's certainly not a historical novel. I also think the phrase "emotionally driven" is a loaded term tending to be used to disparage woman writers. As for the dial painters being useful characters, well, of course they were! There's nothing inherently wrong with telling the human side of a story. Raw numbers in the end don't convey the suffering of the individuals as much as pertinent details from individual accounts.

I think of history books as being on a continuum - popular to serious to academic. There is a point to popular history and one of them is readability; I can't say the paragraphs you cited were what I'd call page-turners. In fact, Radium Girls appears to be heavily researched and we've already discussed and deplored the author's tendency to go too far in her stage-setting, especially as she had the information from the personal accounts and a knack for telling a story. The book should have been better, but it's far from worthless.
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