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The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
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September 2016: 2013 > The Girls of Atomic City / Denise Kiernan - 4****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5794 comments The Girls of Atomic City The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
The Girls of Atomic City – Denise Kiernan
Audiobook narrated by Cassandra Campbell
4****

From the book jacket: At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians – many of them young women from small towns across the South – were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the tru nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war – when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

My Reactions
This is a very interesting micro history of the men and women – many women – who worked to extract the key ingredient that would fuel the bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasacki, thereby ending the war. Kiernan did much research and was able to interview a few surviving women to get their personal stories. In this way we learn about the housekeepers, nurses, chemists, office clerks, statisticians, lab workers, and calutron cubicle operators who each worked in isolation, knowing only just enough about what they were supposed to do, but never knowing the entire scope of the project. Using the personal stories of a handful of women made the history personal and engaging.

What I found particularly fascinating was how the government built this city from scratch. The early workers arrived to mud and a few dormitories, but very quickly the city grew to include a hospital, cemetery, residences, mass transit system, and facilities for religious observance and recreation (gymnasium, movie theater, dance hall, etc).

Cassandra Campbell does a fine job narrating the audio version. She has become one of my favorite audio performers. She has good pacing, clear diction, and is able to breathe life into the performance. In places I felt that I was listening to the young women relate their experiences.


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments I saw this author at the National Book Fair a few years back. She had one of the surviving women with her. This is when it went on my radar and I read it immediately! Loved it.


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