Prime The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War IIAuthor Denise Kiernan –

The Incredible Story Of The Young Women Of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Who Unwittingly Played A Crucial Role In One Of The Most Significant Moments In US History The Tennessee Town Of Oak Ridge Was Created From Scratch InOne Of The Manhattan Project S Secret Cities, It Didn T Appear On Any Maps Until , And Yet At The Height Of World War II It Was Using Electricity Than New York City And Was Home To Than , People, Many Of Them Young Women Recruited From Small Towns Across The South Their Jobs Were Shrouded In Mystery, But They Were Buoyed By A Sense Of Shared Purpose, Close Friendships And A Surplus Of Handsome Scientists And Army Men But Against This Vibrant Wartime Backdrop, A Darker Story Was Unfolding The Penalty For Talking About Their Work Even The Most Innocuous Details Was Job Loss And Eviction One Woman Was Recruited To Spy On Her Coworkers They All Knew Something Big Was Happening At Oak Ridge, But Few Could Piece Together The True Nature Of Their Work Until The Bomb Little Boy Was Dropped Over Hiroshima, Japan, And The Secret Was Out The Shocking Revelation The Residents Of Oak Ridge Were Enriching Uranium For The Atomic BombThough The Young Women Originally Believed They Would Leave Oak Ridge After The War, Many Met Husbands There, Made Lifelong Friends, And Still Call The Seventy Year Old Town Home The Reverberations From Their Work There Work They Didn T Fully Understand At The Time Are Still Being Felt Today In The Girls Of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan Traces The Astonishing Story Of These Unsung WWII Workers Through Interviews With Dozens Of Surviving Women And Other Oak Ridge Residents Like The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, This Is History And Science Made Fresh And Vibrant A Beautifully Told, Deeply Researched Story That Unfolds In A Suspenseful And Exciting Way

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

  1. says:

    This is the story of women who went to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during WW2 I liked the subject, I thought it was interesting But these women s stories were told in a bare bones sort of way I never felt like I got to know any of them I certainly didn t get invested in anyone s story Each person s story is spread over the whole book and elements pop up without much of a connection to other parts Keeping track of the main people was not straight forward as some showed up once and then were gone making you wonder why they were mentioned in the first place or if they were going to pop up again in the narrative somewhere I found the use of the General, the Scientist, the Engineer and Tubealloy very annoying after the 100th time I understand Tubealloy but what was the point of the rest To show how abstract they were and so far removed from the women of the book I don t know but found it distracting from the story The subject was good, the writing okay but the organization was poor.

  2. says:

    If you read my reviews and thanks if you do you know that I virtually NEVER give a book 5 stars Few books deserve it.But I am breaking my own rule on this one.Most of the adult non fiction I have read in recent years has been pretentious, badly written, and highly overrated by reviewers But this book is outstanding From the first page, it reads like a well written novel only it tells a true story It s the story of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a city created by the government to develop the atomic bomb program Thousands of men and women come to live and work in Oak Ridge from all over the country, but only a few actually have any sort of idea of what their work is about It is not until the first atomic bomb is dropped on Japan that the secret comes out security is that fierce.Kiernan tells this story from the viewpoints of a number of the women of Oak Ridge, ranging from scientists given the little woman treatment, to a local girl who discovers her Yankee boss finds her accent amusing, and shows her off to other officers for that reason, to an African American janitor who is forced to live under demeaning Jim Crow conditions she is not allowed to live with her husband and can t bring her children to the complex , but finds ways to keep her dignity intact Their voices, drawn from many interviews with these women, ring true, and this is one book where the end notes are well worth reading, as the author gives detailed information from those interviews and other background information This is non fiction as it should be written, and I hope that Kiernan finds another topic to present in such excellent style.

  3. says:

    Incredible story of how tens of thousands of ordinary American citizens worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and helped build the atomic bomb Each person knew how to do their job but did not know the purpose of their individual tasks other than it was part of the war effort When the bombings occurred in Japan, they were just as surprised as the rest of the world It was probably the best kept secret in American history 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.

  4. says:

    Five stars for subject matter, three for execution I m always happy to read histories that focus on women, typically left out of war narratives Add to that the fact that my grandmother was one of the girls of Atomic City, and you can see I was eager to read this book My mother has said that the only thing my grandmother ever said on the subject was that everyone dated a lot during their time in Oak Ridge The subject matter was fascinating, but unfortunately I keep getting caught up by sentences I don t like The effusively outgoing 18 year old brunette was on line for the shower A sudden knock came at the door most knocks are sudden to the person on the inside She missed her mama, though A good ol plump woman with a welcoming lap no matter your age, a soft bosomy shelf that held the answer to any crisis, a pillow for your troubles Virginia Spivey was stuck in limbo, the kind that existed for those lacking appropriate paperwork and in triplicate If there were a penance designed specifically for the shy yet spunky, 21 year old woman, it came in the form of a daily challenge to devise something of value to teach the other fidgety individuals who were stuck with her in a place called the bull pen Willie had to physically carry her to the bathroom HOW ELSE WOULD HE CARRY HER WITH HIS MIND I would also have liked to read about the aftermath, and specifically what is the cancer incidence for those who worked on site The book seems concerned with wrapping up their stories with marriages and new jobs One absolutely fascinating side story was told about an otherwise healthy man who was brought to the hospital at Oak Ridge after a car accident in the vicinity Rather than setting his broken leg, they injected him with radioactive isotopes without his permission and removed fifteen of his teeth, keeping him in the hospital for weeks His story is wrapped up in a couple of lines because it doesn t fully keep with the girls narrative, but probably merits a book of its own if there hasn t been one already I m glad the author took the time to research this worthwhile subject.

  5. says:

    Started with a picture that sparked Kiernan s curiosity and resulted in this wonderful book Oak Ridge, TN managed to build a complex that employed 75,000 people, all sworn to secrecy Loved the narrative style of this book and that the book centered on the young woman who worked there as well as staff and others employed in this huge complex The bravery of these young women, who left their homes, not able to tell their families nor friends where they were going or what they were doing, especially during this time period boggles my mind It also touches on the race issues that existed even in this complex and the many people who disappeared from there and were never heard from again Great read on a time and place that few have heard of.

  6. says:

    My father was a pathologist, with an interest in oncology He was a pioneer in the work towards a cure for leukemia, and his quest took him on many unique journeys He had this idea that you could inject an isotope into an infected guinea pig, and be able to read the path of the disease in the animal s body He worked for the National Institutes of Health, and it was his resources there that allowed him to drive the family station wagon out to this place in Tennessee, and pick up a substance to help in the refining of his idea Whatever it was that he picked up, was in a lead lined box, and we kids weren t allowed near the box, or the car, when he got home I remember him washing the car, inside and out, to make it safe for the family to ride in again I remember, because it was the only time I saw him ever wash the car It was something relegated to his sons and daughter to do Daddy took the box to his lab and went on with his experiments His career was illustrious, and his work brought him a nomination for the Nobel prize he found out after the fact and was the basis for other people to win the prize itself which was a sore point for him The box hung around the lab, then came to our home where it was used as a door stop for years The base has been lost, but we actually still have the lid, and some weights used to help keep the top secure on the car ride between Tennessee and Maryland My husband says that early exposure to radioactive material explains a lot about my family I just glare at him Maybe it was my childhood awareness of Oak Ridge, maybe it was my love of history, but I had put this book on my reading list A friend sent it on to me thank you Nancy when she saw I was interested in it Such a fascinating collection of people, in a fascinating time and place All were very ordinary, and very extraordinary at the same time The secrecy surrounding the project, some of the rules and regulations, and the level of detail thought through in some areas while totally ignored in others, such as what to do with the mud at the site, to allow people to get about was fascinating It did take me a little bit to keep the various people and their story lines straight for though this is non fiction, there are times when it really doesn t read as such I found this a thoughtful and though provoking look at history, and the women, from janitor to scientist, who helped build the atomic bomb They did, indeed, change the world.

  7. says:

    Update Kindle 1.99 special today It s a remarkable fascinating story Wow Once I really sat down and read the last 70 percent of this book, on Kindle , in almost one sitting on a couple of sittings , I couldn t put it down The details from the Decision Makers Scientists, Engineers , in this book no longer scared me or feed into I won t understand.This story was FASCINATING I knew nothing about this topic prior to reading this book.The most ambitious War Project in Military History rested squarely on the shoulders on tens and thousands of ordinary people Many of them young woman The Clinton Engineer Works CEW was a tightly controlled social experiment.yet, the military didn t account for the women s impact on the community A Sense of Permanence The Oak Ridge Woman created their HOME they had babies, wanted to cook, decorate their homes, date, go to dances Some stayed single, others got married at Oak Ridge within the community Many sacrifices were made for families and individuals in the effort to end the war losses of lives, land, and a community that resulted from the Manhattan Project The question remains Did the Project justify the means Patriotism played a role in every day life during World War 11 but would Americans today be willing or able to make the same sacrifices including top secret jobs, deployment overseas, rationed goods, and strict censorship that families of that era made The woman in this story are wonderful, several still alive today , Ya gotta wonder when these woman occupied a wide variety of roles at Oak Ridge during the Secret Project living in a man made secret community told not to ask questions but did jobs such as work with blowtorches did these woman the workers receive as much credit as the leaders did I hope they make this book into a movie I ll go see it

  8. says:

    I made myself finish this wretched book There are some things through the end that were interesting, but the author took a fascinating story and made it impossible for me to get into The editor did this author a grave disservice by giving this version of the book the green light Horribly difficult to follow and I didn t care about anybody because I couldn t keep track of who was who Wretched Wretched book Skip it I don t know how this book has become bad big as it has I can t say enough about the editing if the story would have been structured Differently, it may have read differently because the actual descriptions, etc aren t half bad Maybe she will rewrite it, because the subject material is very fascinating the book sadly was the opposite.

  9. says:

    I ve been wanting to try this author for a while, because I ve also noticed her recent book on the Bilt Estate, The Last Castle The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation s Largest Home, which I will also plan to read I don t read a lot of history but she made it go down easy by alternating between chapters on the backstory of the technology leading to the actual applications of atomic energy, and chapters about the characters, largely women, moving to Oak Ridge for mysterious jobs during World War II I remember reading a book on Nagasaki last year where it talked about how Americans didn t see images from Hiroshima until the 1950s when Life Magazine published some But that didn t mean they didn t hear reports of those bombs, the bombs built by pieces manufactured at Oak Ridge, right after they were used So many people worked at Oak Ridge not really knowing what they were contributing to Maybe I m not enough of a patriot, but I found it pretty upsetting actually Also upsetting the stories of nonconsensual medical testing on some of the African Americans working at the camp, including plutonium injections and tooth removal But it is amazing to read about the building of this energy city that didn t officially exist during the war, how fast the process moved to creating the elements of these bombs, how much science and war technology moved forward during this time And it was nice to see women involved in the process, from the scientist forced out of Berlin and then Vienna who made all the connections between some of the ideas and allowing fusion to be a reality instead of a theory to the women with PhDs in physics being employed in their areas of expertise Still others had to stop working as soon as they married, and the women were policed by guards at the dorms within Oak Ridge A very interesting, muddy time.

  10. says:

    Overall a pretty good, informative, and entertaining book about a part of American history that is pretty much all but forgotten and unknown.The book is a series of short stories from different women that are somewhat interwoven together over their tenure in Oak Ridge, Tennessee Like a lot of short stories, you fail to really connect with any of the characters other than just finding out random bits of information that compose their daily lives over their interesting and puzzling pasts Add in random scientific information at the end of most chapters, and you begin to feel that the author had a difficult time finding the right structure to deliver all of her research By not wanting to leave anything out, you are left with somewhat of a splattering of information gathered from interviews and other sources The book is well written, it s not dry or anything like a lot of history, but it lacks the professional polish that other historians are able to achieve Reminded me of when you cook something for dinner only to realize with the final taste test that you re missing an ingredient, but you re just not sure which one.