Girls of Atomic City (Kiernan) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The image of Rosie the Riveter—women filling in at factories to help the war effort—is well known. But women also assisted on the Manhattan Project, signing up for secret work in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to help build the atomic bomb. Kiernan looks at the lives and contributions of these unsung women who worked in jobs from secretaries to chemists.
New York Post


Fascinating.... Kiernan has amassed a deep reservoir of intimate details of what life was like for women living in the secret city, gleaned from seven years of interviews and research.... Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.... The fascinating story of the Manhattan Project has been told often, and often told well.... But given the project's significant and lasting impact, there's plenty more mining to be done, and Denise Kiernan has found a rich vein in The Girls of Atomic City. Rosie, it turns out, did much more than drive rivets.
Scott Martelle - Washington Post


Kiernan…brings a unique and personal perspective to this key part of American history.... Instead of the words of top scientists and government officials, Kiernan recounts the experiences of factory workers, secretaries, and low-level chemists in a town that housed at its peak 75,000 people trained not to talk about what they knew or what they did. She combines their stories with detailed reporting that provides a clear and compelling picture of this fascinating time.
Boston Globe


Much was at stake, and in The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan tells a fascinating story about ordinary women who did the extraordinary. It may be difficult for today's readers to imagine so many people united behind cause and country to do what the women and men at Oak Ridge's Clinton Engineer Works did in just two years.
Patty Rhule - USA Today


Kiernan’s book, the result of seven years of research and interviews with the surviving 'girls,' sparkles with their bright, WWII slang and spirit, and takes readers behind the scenes into the hive-like encampments and cubicles where they spent their days and nights.... The Girls of Atomic City brings to light a forgotten chapter in our history that combines a vivid, novelistic story with often troubling science.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Kiernan’s focus is on the intimate and often strange details of work and life at Oak Ridge. It’s told in a novelistic style and is an intimate look at the experiences of the young women who worked at Oak Ridge and the local residents whose lives were changed by the presence of the project.
San Francisco Book Review


As most of us are all too aware, the generation who fought in World War II or supported the effort from home are leaving us—their children, grandchildren, and greats—to carry on without them. Thanks to author Kiernan, we hear from a group of that generation's women, now in their eighties and nineties, whose wartime experience matched no one else's. Ever. Anywhere.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Kiernan's 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 ... [An] intimate and revealing glimpse into one of the most important scientific developments in history.
Publishers Weekly


Living and working with thousands of others in a secret city built almost overnight, those involved in the "Project" were unaware that they were contributing to the most revolutionary scientific discovery of the 20th century.... Kiernan capably captures the spirit of women's wartime opportunities and their sacrifices in what is ultimately a captivating narrative. —Kathryn Wells, Fitchburg State Univ. Lib., MA
Library Journal


A fresh take on the secret city built in the mountains of Tennessee as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II.... The author parallels her account of the construction of Oak Ridge with chapters on the development of the science that made nuclear fission possible.... An inspiring account of how people can respond with their best when called upon.
Kirkus Reviews

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