Skip to content

The Girls of Atomic City

The Untold Story Of The Women Who Helped Win World War II

By Denise Kiernan

Now a New York Times Bestseller!

THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY

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 true 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.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it--women who are now in their eighties and nineties-- The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country's history.


As heard on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.
One of Goodreads' Most Popular Books of March 2013.
One of Amazon's Editors' Picks for Best Books of the Month (History)
One of Amazon's Editors' Picks for Best Books of the Month (Nonfiction)
One of Amazon's Big Spring Books (History)

Format

Book

Availability

1 available at Sandhills
  • 976.873 Kie, Nonfiction
1 available at Wheatley (Shandon)
  • HISTORY US Kie, Nonfiction

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9781451617528


Format: Book
Author: Kiernan, Denise
Summary: In this book the author traces the story of the unsung World War II workers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. This is the 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 did not 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 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 did not fully understand at the time, are still being felt today.
Title: The girls of Atomic City : the untold story of the women who helped win World War II / Denise Kiernan.
Publisher Date: New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Subject: Women employees -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge -- History -- 20th century. Women -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge -- Interviews. Uranium enrichment -- History -- 20th century. Official secrets -- United States -- History -- 20th century World War, 1939-1945 -- Women -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge. World War, 1939-1945 -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- History -- 20th century. Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century. Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- Biography.
Isbn: 9781451617528 (hardcover) 1451617526 (hardcover)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 2
System Items Total: 7
Call Number: 976.873 Kie
Oclc: 796757323
Upc:
Bib Id: 421136

Format: Book
Author: Kiernan, Denise
Summary: In this book the author traces the story of the unsung World War II workers in Oak Ridge, Tennessee through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents. This is the 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 did not 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 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 did not fully understand at the time, are still being felt today.
Title: The girls of Atomic City : the untold story of the women who helped win World War II / Denise Kiernan.
Edition: 1st Touchstone hardcover ed.
Publisher, Date: New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Description: xvii, 373 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map, ports. ; 24 cm.
Subjects: Women employees -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge -- History -- 20th century.
Subjects: Women -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge -- Interviews.
Subjects: Uranium enrichment -- History -- 20th century.
Subjects: Official secrets -- United States -- History -- 20th century
Subjects: World War, 1939-1945 -- Women -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge.
Subjects: World War, 1939-1945 -- Tennessee -- Oak Ridge.
Subjects: Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- History -- 20th century.
Subjects: Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Subjects: Oak Ridge (Tenn.) -- Biography.
Notes: "A Touchstone Book"
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. 317-347) and index.
Contents: Revelation, August 1945 -- Everything will be taken care of : train to nowhere, August 1943. Tubealloy : the Bohemian Grove to the Appalachian Hills, September 1942 -- Peaches and pearls : the taking of Site X, Fall 1942. Tubealloy : Ida and the atom, 1934 -- Through the gates : Clinton Engineer Works, Fall 1943. Tubealloy : Lise and fission, 1938 -- Bull pens and creeps : the Project's welcome for new employees. Tubealloy : Leona and success in Chicago, December 1942 -- Only temporary : spring into Summer, 1944. Tubealloy : the quest for product -- To work. Tubealloy : the couriers -- Rhythms of life. Tubealloy : Security, censorship, and the press -- The one about fireflies. Tubealloy : pumpkins, spies, and chicken soup, Fall 1944 -- The unspoken : sweethearts and secrets. Tubealloy : combining efforts in the New Year -- Curiosity and silence. Tubealloy : the project's crucial spring -- Innocence lost. Tubealloy : hope and the haberdasher, April-May 1945 -- Sand jumps in the desert, July 1945 -- The gadget revealed -- Dawn of a thousand suns -- Life in the new age.
ISBN: 9781451617528 (hardcover)
ISBN: 1451617526 (hardcover)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 2
Total Copies: 7
Call Number: 976.873 Kie