The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Denise Kiernan, Author
Denise Kiernan. Touchstone, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4516-1752-8
Reviewed on: 11/26/2012
Release date: 03/05/2013
Hardcover - 655 pages - 978-1-4104-5647-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4805-9726-6
Paperback - 373 pages - 978-1-4516-1753-5
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4516-1754-2
Paperback - 653 pages - 978-1-59413-720-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-4805-9738-9
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During WWII, Oak Ridge, Tenn., was one unlikely epicenter of the Manhattan Project, the top secret program that produced the atomic bomb. Selected in 1942 for its remoteness, the area, "a big war site" hiring at top dollar, immediately boomed; from across the U.S., tens of thousands of workers streamed in—many of them women looking to broaden their horizons and fatten their purses. Fully integrated into the system, women worked every job, from courier to chemist. They found an "instant community" with "no history," but also "a secret city... [and] a project whose objective was largely kept from them." Living conditions were Spartan—urine samples and guards were intrusive constants—but the women lived their lives. Kiernan's (Signing Their Lives Away) interviewees describe falling in love and smuggling in liquor in tampon boxes. But like everyone else, those lives were disrupted by news of Hiroshima. "Now you know what we've been doing all this time," said one of the scientists. Many moved on; others stayed—Atomic City had become home. But for the women of Oak Ridge, "a strange mix of... pride and guilt and joy and shame" endured. This intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history will appeal to a broad audience. 16-page b&w insert. Agent: Yfat Reiss Gendell, Foundry Literary + Media. (Mar.)
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