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The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II Paperback – March 11, 2014
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“Fascinating ... Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city, gleaned from seven years of interviews and research. ... Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.” -- The Washington Post
“Kiernan…brings a unique and personal perspective to this key part of American history.…Instead of the words of top scientists and government officials, Kiernan recounts the experiences of factory workers, secretaries, and low-level chemists in a town that housed at its peak 75,000 people trained not to talk about what they knew or what they did. She combines their stories with detailed reporting that provides a clear and compelling picture of this fascinating time.”, The Boston Globe
“Kiernan’s focus is on the intimate and often strange details of work and life at Oak Ridge. It’s told in a novelistic style and is an intimate look at the experiences of the young women who worked at Oak Ridge and the local residents whose lives were changed by the presence of the project.” -- The San Francisco Book Review
“Kiernan’s book, the result of seven years of research and interviews with the surviving 'girls,' sparkles with their bright, WWII slang and spirit, and takes readers behind the scenes into the hive-like encampments and cubicles where they spent their days and nights.…The Girls of Atomic City brings to light a forgotten chapter in our history that combines a vivid, novelistic story with often troubling science.” -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“The image of Rosie the Riveter — women filling in at factories to help the war effort — is well known. But women also assisted on the Manhattan Project, signing up for secret work in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to help build the atomic bomb. Kiernan looks at the lives and contributions of these unsung women who worked in jobs from secretaries to chemists.”, New York Post
“Kiernan’s accounts ring with authenticity.…The Girls of Atomic City is fascinating.", Minneapolis Star Tribune
"As most of us are all too aware, the generation who fought in World War II or supported the effort from home are leaving us -- their children, grandchildren, and greats -- to carry on without them. Thanks to author Kiernan, we hear from a group of that generation's women, now in their eighties and nineties, whose wartime experience matched no one else's. Ever. Anywhere." -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A fresh take on the secret city built in the mountains of Tennessee as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II… An inspiring account of how people can respond with their best when called upon.”, Kirkus Reviews
"Denise Kiernan recreates, with cinematic vividness and clarity, the surreal Orwell-meets-Margaret Atwood environment of Oak Ridge as experienced by some of the women who were there: secretaries, technicians, a nurse, a statistician, a leak pipe inspector, a chemist, and a janitor." -- DailyBeast.com
About the Author
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1451617534
- ISBN-13 : 978-1451617535
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Atria Books; Reprint edition (March 11, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #31,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book features the stories of some of the women who worked in various capacities at Oak Ridge including a chemist, nurse, secretaries, mathematician, and a janitorial service worker. Also included is the backstory on how the bomb was developed including the role of several women scientists who really have never received their fair share of credit.
While the history is utterly fascinating, the writing is just average. It did get a little frustrating having to keep flipping back and forth between the page listing the cast of characters and the actual writing because it was hard to keep track of everyone. However, I am glad the author included the stories of so many women because they played such an important role in the effort to end the war.
This book was full of random tidbits of information such as married black couples were not allowed to live together and their housing units were of much lesser quality than white workers. As I stated before, workers didn't know the reasons they were performing certain tasks like checking gauges and examining pipes, and for some it really took a toll on their mental state as it felt like you didn't have a purpose other than doing something that felt meaningless. After the bombings occurred, many workers had mixed feelings. There was a feeling of relief the war was over, but also sadness at the utter destruction and lives lost.
This is a part of history that is definitely well worth reading.
Top reviews from other countries
This theme carries on with the chapters about the technical progress of the project, which are presented in a different typeface (yuck!) to try and look more like engineering briefings, and the deliberate use of codenames throughout which leaves you constantly checking the glossary to see what is going on.
A book worth your time.
Also includes a novice level explanation of the function of the bomb, and their manufacture.
It was the first of several books I read on the project.