Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Grocery Amazon Gift Card Offer jrscwrld jrscwrld jrscwrld  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Fall Arrivals in Amazon Outdoor Clothing Kids Halloween

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation Hardcover – December 7, 1999

8 customer reviews

See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$112.08 $56.57

"Adventures in Human Being" by Gavin Francis
In Adventures in Human Being, award-winning author Gavin Francis leads readers on a journey into the hidden pathways of the human body, offering a guide to its inner workings and a celebration of its marvels. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1956, British physician Alice Stewart discovered that exposing a fetus to a single diagnostic X-ray doubles the risk of an early death from cancer. As this spirited biography demonstrates, Stewart's subsequent dedication to investigating the effects of radiation turned her into a kind of guru to the antinuclear movement. In 1974-1977, her study of U.S. nuclear workers at the Hanford weapons complex in Washington State found that workers had a greater risk of developing cancer if exposed to radiation well below one-tenth of the "safe" level stipulated by international standards. According to Greene, the Atomic Energy Commission attempted to seize Stewart's data, and her funding was cut off. Yet her controversial findings, published in 1977, have momentous implications because, as Stewart explains, "If we are correct, occupational safety standards will have to be changed and it will open the floodgates to claims from workers, veterans and downwinders." Greene, a professor at Scripps College, also sets forth Stewart's provocative, still untested theory that sudden infant death syndrome masks myeloid leukemia. Stewart's varied personal life included conducting an affair with literary critic/poet William Empson, raising two children as a single parent and enduring her son's suicide. Greene calls this a "collaborative memoir," because she lets Stewart, 93, speak for herself whenever possible. Yet Greene also uses this blunt, feisty woman's career to mount a compelling critique of the nuclear industry and the medical establishment. 31 b&w photos. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Alice Stewart led the research effort that identified the cancer-causing effects of X-rays in pregnancy. A medical doctor, she worked at a time when women were still a rarity in the field and not well accepted. During World War II, she became the first assistant to the chair of the newly created Institute of Social Medicine, out of which came the X-ray study and its critical findings. When the chairman died in 1950, the institute was closed rather than continued under Stewart's direction, an indication of the lack of professional esteem for both Stewart and the field of social medicine. Strongly independent, she continued her radiation studies, bringing her in direct confrontation with the nuclear industry. Although persecuted both professionally and financially for her unpopular positions, Stewart, now in her 90s, says that she's had a "marvelous time." While this biography is sometimes chronologically jumbled and a bit feminist in tone (the author is a professor of women's studies and literature), the subject is a fascinating woman truly deserving of further study. Recommended for most libraries.AHilary Burton, Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; First Edition edition (December 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472111078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472111077
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,521,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

INSOMNIAC (UC Press, Little Brown in the U.K) was Amazon's #1 pick for March 2008 and a finalist for the Gregory Bateson Prize for Cultural Anthropology. There are many books about insomnia, but there are few that describe what the world looks like to people who struggle with this problem on a daily basis. INSOMNIAC combines personal narrative with scientific investigation; it's the first book to report on the widespread discontent of insomniacs who are tired of hearing the same-old advice and being talked down to by professionals. It asks, why has a condition that plagues so many people been so long neglected and trivialized?

Joyce Carol Oates: "Insomniac is an impassioned work--an inspired amalgam of academic and first-hand research, memoir, analysis... a cri de coeur from a lifetime insomniac that is sure to appeal to the vast army of fellow insomniacs the world over."

Billy Collins: "The good news is that Gayle Greene's book is all you ever need to read on the subject of sleeplessness; the bad news for fellow insomniacs is that reading it--even in bed--will fail to lull you to sleep."

Francine Prose: "Insomniac is far too interetsing to lull you into dreamland, but it will certainly engage and comfort you--and keep you company--during those long, dark hours that the clock ticks off until dawn."

Peter Hauri, co-author of No More Sleepless Nights: "This is a very well-researched, in-depth book on insomnia, written with much empathy and from the patient's point of view. I would recommend it to all who are plagued by this malady or who professionally try to teach it."

Richard Lewis, Professor of psychology and neuroscience, Pomona College: "No other work on insomnia provides such a fresh perspective, which is also informative, compelling, and entertaining."

New England Journal of Medicine: "if you want an in-depth overview of the patients, the physicians, and the science that are part of the contemporary culture surrounding insomnia and sleep medicine, Greene's book is the best available."

People Magazine: "In search of a good night's rest, a lit professor travels the world and bones up on sleep science. Fascinating."

I'm the author of THE WOMAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: ALICE STEWART AND THE SECRETS OF RADIATION, a biography of a little-known British physician and epidemiologist, Alice Stewart, who discovered in the 1950s that if you x-ray pregnant women, you double the risk of a childhood cancer, and who later became guru to the anti-nuclear movement. Her discovery revolutionized medical practice: on account of it, doctors don't do fetal x-rays anymore. I've also published books on Shakespeare and contemporary women writers, and I've written a memoir. In INSOMNIAC, I brought together academic research and first-person narrative to write about the condition that's plagued me all my life. It was enormously therapeutic to write this book, and many readers have written to tell me it's been helpful to them to read it.

I teach at Scripps College in Claremont, California: Shakespeare, women writers, creative nonfiction, and "The Poetry and Science of Sleep."

I have a blog, SLEEPSTARVED.ORG, for insomniacs who are looking for new ways of thinking about insomnia, who want to learn the latest in research, brainstorm about things that help and what might be done to bring this hidden malady to public awareness.

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 8 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rudi H. Nussbaum on February 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Courage and Integrity in Science: A Precious Rarety
The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation by Gayle Greene. Dr. Stewart is a British physician and epidemiologist (born in 1906 into a large family of physicians) who revolutionized the concept of radiation risk. In the 1950s, while surveying childhood mortalities in the British Isles, she finds that then quite common X-ray examinations during pregnancy doubled the risk for childhood cancer. Fueled by the wrath of radiologists, her work has been viciously derided among the medical establishment for more than two decades. In the 1970s, she finds that some workers at nuclear weapons production sites, such as Hanford, WA or Oakridge, TN are dying of radiation induced cancers, showing that presumed "safe" levels of occupational exposures put these workers at a twenty times higher risk than officially admitted. With that finding she places herself on the "enemy list" of an immensely powerful nuclear weapons establishment, including its scientific elite, and at the center of an international controversy over radiation risks. Stewart's fascinating story, a collaborative memoir told by herself and Greene with verve and humor, is one of a woman scientist's ingenuity, independence, perseverance, compassion, and integrity, a fascinating tale in the checkered history of a mostly male-dominated science. Rudi H. Nussbaum, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Environmental Science.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By H. W. Cummins on January 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As Research Director of the Hanford Veterans Cancer Mortality Study I have worked closely with Dr. Alice Stewart. I have learned from her, laughed with her and admired her as the most extraordinary human being I have ever known. But, I never knew her well enough. You must read this book! It will give you a new understanding of the meaning of courage and integrity. More importantly - have your children, especially your daughters, read this book. Thank goodness Gayle Greene has written this eminently readable biography of Alice. It allows us to understand where her drive comes from and how Dr. Stewart can suffer the slings and arrows of the federal scientific pygmies who attack her work. The heart of the story, and a key to Dr. Stewart's personality, can be found in the juxtaposition of the the ending words of Chapter 13 where Professor Greene says "Alice is called in by...radiation victims, her investigations turn up cancer in excess ... the studies are handed over to official bodies...the official studies invoke the A-bomb data to discredit her finds....Time passes." `It's a long, slow business,' she (Dr. Stewart) says." Compare this with one of Dr. Stewart's favorite quotations, "truth is the daughter of time." She has waited, we will wait; but Dr. Helen Caldicott is right "her work may (I say `will') receive the recognition and thanks of the future." When one finishes reading this marvelous book one cannot help but think of George Sand saying "humanity is outraged in me and with me. We must not dissimulate nor try to forget this indignation; which is one of the most passionate forms of love." Thank the Good Lord for this stunning creature called Alice Stewart. And thank Gayle Greene for helping us to know her just a bit better.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The book spans the lifetimes of Dr. Stewart and her parents. It offers a fascinating description of medicine in Britain in the late 19th century, the entry of women into the medical field, and the institutional resistance in the second half of the 20th century to the fact that low levels of radiation are dangerous. Given the recent announcements by the US Government concerning health risks in the nuclear arms industry, this is a timely and fascinating book. Well written and researched.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Buswell on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The scientific work of Alice B. Stewart is crucial to understanding the low level radiation exposures that ordinary Americans are subject to in their daily lives and how those exposures negatively impact our health. This well-written book reintroduced to me to Dr. Stewart and her life's work and provided many details about her work and life that had never known. I really couldn't put the book down!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: scientists, books biography