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

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

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 U.S. history.
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 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 bomb.

Though 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.

Title:The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781451617528
Format Type:

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

  • Katherine Hunter

    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 ne...

  • The Library Lady

    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 r...

  • Katie B

    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 purpo...

  • Sarah

    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 th...

  • Diane S ?

    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 narra...

  • Amy

    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 inj...

  • Elyse  Walters

    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 o...

  • Leslie

    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 ...

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I've been wanting to try this author for a while, because I've also noticed her more recent book on the Biltmore Estate, The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nati...

  • Chrissie

    I liked this book a lot, so four stars. It is interesting, well told and easy to follow. Although filled with facts it is never dry or boring. The scientific details are well explained so any lay pers...