Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City
by Denise Kiernan [940.53 Kie] 

What a story. Well, multiple stories really which tie into a larger one. The book follows multiple people who were brought together during WWII for the Manhattan Project, to them just ‘the project’. Many, but not all the people recruited to refine uranium for the project, were women looking for work during the war. They were not told what they were doing or why, simply given instructions to do their job and that the project was to bring a speedy end to the war. They didn’t find out what the project was until the bomb was dropped on Japan and it was revealed to everyone on the radio that work had been done in Oakridge Tennessee, where they all were living and working. I found it very interesting how so many people were working on, at the time, the world’s biggest science project and managed to keep it all a secret. The atmosphere described from many personal accounts of those who lived at Oakridge reminded me in a way of a documentary I’ve seen about life at McMurdo Station Antarctica in that you become close to those who’ve shared the experience, because it’s such a unique experience, it’s hard for others to know how you feel. The book is roughly chronological and begins with people who lived on the location of Oakridge, before it was Oakridge, and follows a few people from around the country through the job application process, to work and daily life on the compound, to the end of the war and up to the modern day. It does on occasion move away from Oakridge and give some information on Oppenhiemer and the test site at Los Alamos. If you are interested in WWII or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) history I recommend this book to you.

[If you enjoy this, you may also like the fictionalized DVD series Bletchley Circle, which features women
code breakers during WWII, in London England. If you are looking for another non-fiction title, I recommend Antarctica: A Year on the Ice for a glimpse into life of the scientific research outpost on Antarctica.]

[ official Girls of Atomic City web site ] | [ official Denise Kiernan web site ]

Recommended by Kristen A.
Gere Branch Library

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